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Top of the Gulf 2011 - 'must be accounted a success'

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 4 May 2011
Top of the Gulf Regatta 2011 - HiFi (left) and Team Premier line up for the last start. Guy Nowell/Top of the Gulf
Top of the Gulf 2011 - With apologies to Jane Austen, 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a regatta blessed with breeze and sunshine on the last day of racing must be accounted a success.'

Once again it was a grey and soft beginning to the day, with the first starts going away in no more than 5 kts of southwesterly breeze. The RO signalled windward-leeward courses for all classes, with the firm intention of completing two races for all divisions (except the Cruising class) and maybe three for the Platu fleet contesting the Coronation Cup.


HiFi was no doubt eager to put some points on the board, especially having lost a first place in the Jury Room (see below), and was caught OCS at the boat end. Heading for the left side of the course, Hi Fi was lifted under the rest of the division, and was not only back in the game by the first mark, but was lying second on the water. The light breeze suited HiFi, and finishing positions on the water were Team Premier, HiFi and then Evolution Racing, with Neil Pryde and his crew winning on corrected time.

Some match racing action between Team Premier and HiFi in the pre-start of the second race resulted in a protest against HiFi (later dropped) but once again conditions suited and HiFi lead the race all the way round the track, finishing with line honours and a handicap win.



So then it was back to The Room for part 3 of a story that started two days ago and involved a protest, a dismissal, a re-opening, a finding in favour of Evolution Racing, and a final re-opening that once again found for Evolution. HiFi was disqualified from race 3. That gave the division to Team Premier and left HiFi with the silver medal. Seeing no advantage in pressing their case, Team Premier dropped the protest lodged today. For the minutiae-minded, the three-day protest is reproduced in full, below.

IRC 2 honours were a more open-and-shut affair, with Matt Allen (Ichiban, Beneteau 44.7) scoring five bullets from the first five races, adding a second place this morning, and then declining the last race and discarding the DNS. Rick Pointon’s J/130 Jing Jing, crewed by members of the Beijing Sailing Centre with the notable addition of Steve McConaghy, put up an admirable performance as bridesmaid, taking second place in all the races that Ichiban won, and winning the ones that she didn’t. Ben Copley’s Katsu was a frequent leader on the water, but neither she nor Jing Jing were able to overcome Ichiban’s 1.111 handicap.



The Thai Royal Navy 1 crew and SMU’s X-99 Hi Jinks shared all the first and second places of the regatta in IRC 3, but the Navy took the lion’s share to run out with 6 points to Hi Jinks’s 11. David Bell’s Magic, formerly Magic Roundabout, stepped up for third place.

Corsair 24 The Sting (James Haste) was the smallest boat in the Ocean Multihull division, but that didn’t stop her posting a string of first and second places that gave her first overall.

The Coronation Cup for the Platu OD class is always a warmly-contested affair, and this year was no exception, even if entries were down from last year. Nobody has successfully defended the title since it was inaugurated in 1996, so there was 'no pressure' on reigning champion Scott Duncanson (The Ferret). Joint favourite for the Cup was probably Rolf Heemskerk (The Fox), but it was Maximilian Soh and crew from SMU who scooped the glittering prize with 20 points from 9 races, just three ahead of Kenta Inaba (Lucky Lady) who thought they had it in the bag until the Jury DSQ’d them for a start line infringement in the penultimate race that they ‘absolved’ with a 360 turn instead of a 720. That came as a nasty surprise, and knocked them down to second overall.



So, back to Jane Austen and the 'regatta… that must be accounted a success'. 49 boats racing over four days of racing, mostly in 10 kts or so of breeze, one thoroughly grey and grumpy day with hardly any breeze at all, and 42 races over six divisions. Not forgetting 130 Optimists, and a flurry of Lasers, F18 beach cats, 420s and 470s that were added into the total to make this the 'largest multi-class event in Thailand'. RO Simon James kept it all under control on the ‘big boats’ race course, and earned some well-deserved compliments from competitors at the Closing Ceremony. It wasn’t an easy race track to run, and today was a good example, with a breeze swinging 20 or more degrees (and back again) as the last race started. But it all worked, and worked well – good race management is undoubtedly the heart of a good regatta, and Top of the Gulf 2011 was definitely ‘a good regatta’.

Ocean Marina is an excellent venue for an event of this nature, with berthing for all the competing boats – even if the biggest competitors were obliged watch the tides and time their entry/exit to the marina. When current dredging and marina expansion plans come to fruition this will be obviated. Off the water, OMYC is an equally agreeable place, with good bar, restaurant and accommodation facilities, pleasant grassy lawns on which to enjoy a post-race beer, and plenty of space for tonight’s Prizegiving Dinner and Awards. Competitors were happy – they said so – with all the division winners promising to come back for the eighth edition, Top of the Gulf 2012 (4-8 May, as announced this evening. Mark your diaries).

Last night, hundreds of excited young sailors sat on the same grass for the presentation of the dinghy prizes, right up to the crowning of the new Thailand National Optimist Champion, 13-year old Chaninat Poolsirikot. If their enthusiasm for the occasion and appreciation of the winners’ endeavours was anything to go by, ‘junior’ sailing is very much alive and well in Thailand, and the Top of the Gulf Regatta is very much part of that scene. Each of the Asian regattas has a character of its own – anyone listening to Regatta Chairman Bill Gasson handing out the volunteers’ mementos tonight would have worked out where the flavour of TOG comes from. Roll on, next year.









Short Results

IRC Racing 1
1. Team Premier, Johannes Waimer (9)
2. Hi Fi, Neil Pryde (12)
3. Evolution Racing, Ray Roberts (13)

IRC Racing 2
1. Ichi Ban, Matt Allen (7)
2. Jing Jing, Rick Pointon (10)
3. Katsu, Ben Copley (17)

IRC Racing 3
1. Royal Thai Navy 1, Nuttapol Srihirun (6)
2. Hi Jinks, Team SMU (11)
3. Magic, David Bell (20)

Cruising
1. Amanda, Lennart Fahlgren (5)
2. San Sanook, Andrew Watt (7)
3. Reef Knot+, Simon Denny (13)

Platu (Coronation Cup)
1. Magic Dragon, Maximillian Soh (20)
2. Lucky Lady, Kenta Inaba (23)
3. Naiad, Wiwat Poonpat (24)

Ocean Multihulls
1. The Sting, James Haste (9)
2. Bladerunner, Alan Carwadine (14)
3. Cedar Swan, Radab Kanjanavanit (18)

For full series results in detail, go to http://topofthegulfregatta.com/results.shtml.










For the Protest-minded:

Case 3: 1st May. Class IRC 1, race 3.

EVOLUTION RACING (AUS 8898) protested HI FI, (HKG 2112) claiming that as EVOLUTION approached the windward mark on starboard tack with HI FI on port tack, EVOLUTION was forced to alter course aggressively to avoid a collision with HI FI.

Both boats were approaching the windward mark. HI FI on port tack, tacked on the windward bow of PREMIER which was approaching on starboard tack on the layline. As the tack was completed, contact occurred between the port quarter of HI FI and the starboard side of PREMIER. HI FI then tacked back on port tack and completed a two penalty turns before continuing around the mark. PREMIER continued on starboard tack and rounded the mark. EVOLUTION was approximately 3 boat lengths away from HI FI when HI FI tacked. EVOLUTION was able to continue on her course behind the stern of HI FI to lay the mark. No alteration of course was necessary to avoid HI FI.

HI FI on port tack was required to keep clear of EVOLUTION on starboard tack. HI FI kept clear and EVOLUTION was able to sail her course to the mark.

The Protest was dismissed, after a ‘majority’ decision.

EVOLUTION requested to re-open the hearing (rule 66) claiming that significant new evidence had become available from the skipper Ray Roberts who was not available at the original hearing due to family health matters.

The Jury decided to re-open the hearing.

New Facts were found:

Within the zone, HI FI on port crossed ahead of PREMIER who was on starboard tack, forcing PREMIER to duck the stern of HI FI.

HI FI tacked on to starboard tack windward of PREMIER.

EVOLUTION tacked from port tack onto starboard tack when four to five hull lengths from the top mark and approximately one hull length to windward of the starboard layline.

PREMIER had to luff to shoot the mark.

HI FI tacked back onto port tack and there was contact between HI FI’s port quarter and the starboard side of PREMIER.
EVOLUTION’s tack onto starboard was completed before HI FI passed through head-to-wind.

EVOLUTION on starboard tack was forced to bear away to avoid HI FI on port tack.

HI FI continued on port tack and completed a two-turn penalty before rounding the mark.

HI FI on port tack was required to keep clear of the EVOLUTION on starboard tack and failed to do so (rule 10)

The protest is upheld. HI FI is disqualified. (again, this was a ‘majority decision’).

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