Yesterday’s weather played havoc with the racing programme. Today, the last day of the regatta, IRC 1 started with only three races on the card after three days of a four-day regatta. The Platus contesting the Coronation Cup had five scores, and needed seven to be able to make a drop – and some of them badly needed a drop!
So never was it more true that ‘the last day makes the regatta’ (or otherwise) – a good last day and this would be A Good 10th Anniversary Top of the Gulf. RO Denis Thompson was determined to make it happen. 'The Platus are going to do four races today' was overheard at breakfast time. Full marks for intent and optimism, but you’ll have to speak to Hughie first.
Out on the water for the scheduled 1100h start, it was looking good – decent breeze from the south west, and no cells over the land to the east. Maybe a proper sea breeze was going to establish itself instead of all that ‘transition zone’ stuff we have seen for the last couple of days. First race away in 10kts, Multihulls and Cruisers off on a scenic course. Platus away, IRC 1-2-3 away on windward leewards, and the RO is keeping the leg length down in order to spin them around as fast as possible and re-start.
1156hrs and the storm cells are beginning to build over the land, but maybe the sea breeze will stop them coming our way? No such luck. Gradually the grey stuff spread seawards like the cloud coming out of Mordor. The IRC racing classes got through another set of start sequences, but the rain came in, the visibility disappeared and the Platus were left standing under the fire hose.
Immediately after the storm, and with the RO trying to get things started again in bright, hot sunshine, and the wind must have gone all the way around the compass. Over the radio we heard 310, 280, 260 and all the way round to 80 degrees. However, perseverance paid off. Order was eventually regained, but with (surprise) less breeze. The Platus were the first away, for their all-important race 7, followed by everyone else. It was a hot afternoon on the water after that, with the very last finisher for the regatta (Hi Jinks, IRC 3) crossing the line at 1652. Phew. In very tricky conditions, and with patience and some strict regimentation on the water, the RO had slotted in two races for the Coronation Cup and the Multihull division, one for IRC 4, and three for everyone else.
The Coronation Cup was decided in the very last race, with Scott Duncanson collecting the title for a record fourth time. He and his crew on Kingdom Property match-raced Chris Way’s Easy Tigers all the way round the course, holding them back for a seventh place finish. When the discards were applied Scotty threw out an 8 and Way dropped a 7… and Duncanson won the regatta by a single point.
Peter Ahern’s Oi! found the going tough after the rain, scoring 1, 3, 3 for the day but still had enough money in the bank to take the IRC 1 title. IRC 2 was decided in the slow lanes of the last race when Foxy Lady scored a 2 behind David Dimmock’s Blue Note, but – more importantly – Karasu recorded DNC as, with the programme spinning on into the afternoon, owner Kasuo Nanamori had a plane to catch.
After trying very hard to be an IRC 4 Cruiser (where, in 2013, they won with six bullets from six races), Colin Lim’s X-99 was kicked upstairs to IRC 3. It must have been bittersweet for them, after leading the division almost to the end, to end up on equal points with Jean Rheault’s Souay 1… and lose on the countback.
It’s not been an easy regatta. A foxtrot regatta. Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. The total whitewash of day three was more than a little trying – when you lose 25% of your racing programme in one fell swoop, organisation becomes tough and the mutinous mutterings begin to be heard.
So pushing through a full programme of 14 races on the last day in substantially less than ideal conditions calls for round of applause for RO Denis Thompson and his on-water crew. There was a good deal of hard-nosed persistence, and it paid off in spades.
Regatta Management reported thin pickings on the sponsorship front this year. ‘Political unrest in Bangkok’ is most usually cited when sponsors fail to get out the cheque books. Since tourism and visitors account for a large part of the Thai economy, it seems pretty daft that the demonstrators concerned are to a certain extent shooting themselves in the foot. But then probably your average political demonstrator is thinking more about trying to oust the government than improve the entry list at Top of the Gulf.
As far as regatta competitors were concerned, the only visible difference between a sponsor-rich year and 2014 was a t-shirt instead of a polo shirt. The rest went swimmingly, so another round of applause for Bill Gasson and the Management.
Gasson announced on closing night that after 10 years of Top of the Gulf he feels it is 'time to step back' and hand over the reins to Ocean Marina, but we feel sure that Mr G will still be here in 2015, thoroughly visible and very much in evidence. Ocean Marina have a tough act to follow. We wish them well and promise all support possible.
TOP OF THE GULF REGATTA 2014 - scrabbling to get the scores on the doors. Platu fleet, Coronation Cup. - © Guy Nowell/Top of the Gulf Click Here to view large photo