The sun is shining now, but it was a murky start to the first day of the 2014 edition of the Top of the Gulf Regatta. Murphy was on duty at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club earlier… at when breakfast time there was bags of breeze and a promise of a wet and bouncy RIB ride out the race course, but this moderated into something less than 8kts at start time (1100h) which faded away to almost nothing as the fleet rounded the first top mark of a two-sausage course, only to fill in from west of south for the final downwind leg.
By now, there was plenty enough puff for PRO Denis Thompson to dial in another twice-arounder for the IRC divisions, big triangles taking in Ko Rang Kwian for the Multihulls (18nm) and the Cruising class (14nm), and two more windward-leewards for the Platus scrapping over the Coronation Cup.
Peter Ahern and the Oi! Boys made short work of their racing, finishing with two bullets from two races, while Wan Ma Rang (Kevin Whitcraft) and Island Fling (Paul Winkelman) swapped the next two places between them. After the lull during the first race the breeze came back from 20 degrees right, making the last leg a soldier’s course on which Oi! made the most of her 52’ waterline and waltzed away to a 10-minute lead on the water - but even so, the ‘corrected’ gap from first to third was only 42 seconds after 85 minutes of racing. So, we are all in the same ball park.
A bit more of a mix-up in IRC 2, with Yasuo Nanamori’s Karasu finishing the day at the top of the sheet on 3 points after two races (work it out). Foxy Lady scored 5,1 for third place behind Windsikher. Consistency? Yes, if you take into account the Foxys’ claim that 'we always like to have a warm-up race for starters. Don’t want to push the envelope too much for the first race. ' (NB it was neither owner Bill Bremner nor tactician Steve McConaghy who revealed this. Amazing what you get told in the lift at OMYC.)
Hi Jinks (Chung Peiquan) won IRC 4 last year with a string of bullets, and this time were persuaded to up the game and race in IRC 3. Obviously they are up to the mark, finishing 2,1 to lead the class after the first day. There was some mathematical entertainment in the small but select Multihull class (3 boats) when Peter Wilcox’s all-conquering Mojo, Khun Nim’s stately Sonic and Khun Radab’s venerable Cedar Swan scored 3, 2, 1 in the opening windward leeward race, and then 1, 2, 3 respectively in the 14-miler, leaving all boats on 4 points apiece. Khun Radab was quick to offer Khun Nim a piece of advice – afterwards. 'When my father raced around here, he said never to go into the passage behind Koh Kaeo unless there is plenty of wind.
Evidently there was not enough wind, and Sonic paid the price.
Every year, the tippy little scrappers known in this part of the world as Platus (and Beneteau 25s everywhere else) race for the Coronation Cup at Top of the Gulf. It is the de facto Asian Championship for the class that was commissioned and designed to sail in these very waters, and year after year provides some of the most engaging sailing of the regatta. It looks as if 2014 will be no exception. Chris Way’s Easy Tiger crew are back for another tilt at the title, along with Andrew Moore (Tigrana), and past winner - three times - Scott Duncanson (Kingdom Properties). Rolf Heemskerk (Team Viewpoint) lost by 6m in 2010 and ten on a countback in 2012. The SMU teams are back to knock at the door once more, and so is Ithinai Yingsiri (Pine Pacific).
Platus are designed to sail in light breeze, but the lull in this morning’s race was just too testing for some. 'It was like rolling the dice, keeping your fingers crossed, and picking a card - all at the same time,' said Duncanson. Heroes go right, zeros go left (or was it the other way round?). Andrew Moore got it seriously right (or left?) and won the race by a handsome 2m 30s which is practically an eternity in the Platu fleet. The Tigrinas then followed up with a second and a bullet to lead Easy Tiger by four points after the first day, but experienced Coronation Cup observers will know that with a 10-race card over four days, complacency is not an option after just the first day.
As soon as racing was over for the day, the sun came out. That’s good for the competitors who come ashore and then make the most of the thoroughly attractive surroundings of the OMYC, but it’s thoroughly annoying where the photos are concerned. They are grey, and – sorry – can’t do much about it. If the breeze is up at breakfast time tomorrow, I’ll remember to take a sunshine filter with me.
Full results: www.topofthegulfregatta.com
TOP OF THE GULF REGATTA 2014. Wan Ma Rang. - © Guy Nowell/Top of the Gulf