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Pacific Sailing School 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Top of the Gulf 2017 - fabulous finale for the Coronation Cup

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 8 May 2017
Side-by-side-by-sailing. The last run to the finish that decided the Coronation Cup. Top of the Gulf Regatta 2017 Guy Nowell/ Top of the Gulf Regatta
Out on the water, the last day of the Top of the Gulf Regata 2017 was everything that a sailor, a Race Officer, or even the world weary observers on the media boat could wish for. The sun shone, the wind blew a steady 14-16kts, the racing started on schedule, and the rain stayed away – from the race course at least, never mind the clouds looming over Jomtein Beach like the reek of Mordor.

Windward-leeward races of differing lengths for all classes. Two multihulls, three Cruisers, four IRC 3, three IRC 1 and the 11 Platus arguing the toss for the most competitive item on the regatta agenda, the Coronation Cup. When the numbers are so small, the results become rather repetitive, even when places are swapped around. The Cruisers went home after the first race, having completed five races for a full card, and everyone else went round again – the conditions were such that it would have been a shame not to.




With whitecaps all across the bay, “the lambs are in the paddock,” said RO Dennis Thompson, and reached for the mint sauce. Hot, bright sunshine over the racing area, and a spectacular backdrop of nearly jet black over Jomtien Beach made for some great images. Kitati Assakul’s ponderous Sonic proved that she could, indeed, pick up her skirts and get on with it, and Gary Baguley’s vintage El Coyote was rushing about with a bone in her teeth. Lady Bubbly cruised around showing off her delightful Babycham Girl spinnaker. “At 20 knots she stops smiling; at 30 knots she falls out of the glass,” they assured us. Evidently 14 knots is just perfect.



The jewel in the crown of the Top of the Gulf Regatta has long been the Coronation Cup. Established in 1996 with 24 entries, the first Coronation Cup date coincided with the anniversary of His Late Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej of Thailand's Coronation date, 5th May 1950. From there, the one-design Platu Coronation Cup was born.

This year there were 11 entries, making it the largest keelboat division of the regatta. Crews fom Thailand, Australia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Singapore and the Russian Federation kept this year up to the mark as a properly international event. Six crews recorded first place finishes and seven scored in the daily podium places. The Coronation Cup was won on a countback between two teams who have been there before – in 2012 Chris Way’s Easy Tiger (AUS) pipped Rolf Heemskerk (NED) for the title; today it was the other way round.



This time it all came down to the last yards of the last run to the finish of the last race. Naiad (Valeriy Dichenko, RUS) rounded the windward mark to lead the fleet down to the finish. Right behind was Wikki (Colin Simonds, GBR), Easy Tiger (Chris Way, AUS), Pine–Pacific (Itinai Yingsiri, THA) and Team Viewpoint (Rolf Heemskerk, NED). At the top of the run the chasing pack formed up in line abreast, and it stayed like that all the way to the finish line. Team Viewpoint needed a second to wins the series – as long as Easy Tiger made no better than fifth. Said tactician Steve McConaghy afterwards, “The only time we were actually winning the regatta was at the finish of race 10… but that was good enough.” Team Viewpoint slipped over the finish line in second place at the boat end, followed by Pine-Pacific then Wikki and Easy Tiger just 7 seconds later.

It was nail-biting stuff. On board the media boat, following alongside the racing, we wondered: does it really take 50ft, foils and 45kts to make things interesting? No. Watching Platus duking it out in the dying moments of the Coronation Cup was every bit as exciting, a lot more accessible, and a great deal less expensive! Hearty congratulations to Team Viewpoint and a new name on the trophy.

This evening it was Grand Prizegiving time. It must be very disappointing for organisers to go to the lengths involved in producing a regatta - and come up short on the entry list. It must be disappointing for the racing crews to find that they are sailing in such small divisions. When there are only three boats in a division, and when prizes are awarded for the first three places… well, work it out. Everyone wins a coconut, every day - and someone is collecting a prize for coming last, which doesn’t carry a lot of cachet.

The moral is this – if you fancy racing at Top of the Gulf, where the weather is (mostly) delightful, the sailing conditions (usually) excellent, the ambience and après-sail (always) near-perfect, the accommodation is thoroughly affordable, and the venue entirely accessible – charter a Platu and take a tilt at the Coronation Cup. We’ll give you the contact details if you ask.

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Here for the record are the 1, 2, 3 winners of the divisions:

IRC 1
1. Emagine, Scott Bradley
2. THA 72, Kevin Whitcraft
3. Loco, David Dimmock
IRC 3
1. El Coyote, Gary Baguley
2. Nautical Wheeler, Martin Brown
3. Magic, David Bell
Cruising
1. Lady Bubbly, Chris Mitchell
2. Le Vent, Pote Suyasinto
3. Thida Waree, Dwight Willis



Multihulls
1. Sonic, Kirati Assakul
2. Bladerunner 7, Bob Garner



Platu (Coronation Cup)
1. Team Viewpoint, Rolf Heemskerk
2. Easy Tiger III, Chris Way
3. Naiad, Valeriy Dichenko

Full results at www.topofthegulfregatta.com







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