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Top of the Gulf - bringing back the sunshine

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 6 May 2017
Packed Laser start line. Top of the Gulf Regatta 2017. Guy Nowell/ Top of the Gulf Regatta
Day 2 of Top of the Gulf Regatta 2017, and yesterday’s overblown morning was replaced by hot sunshine and light breeze. Normal service has been resumed.

After coffee on the terrace, the elite media crew embarked on their landing craft to go out and bear witness and report on the Gulf of Thailand’s premier yachting event.

After a short AP delay while the wind settled in, IRC 1, 3 and the Multihull class completed a windward-leeward course followed by a passage course to Koh Rin and back, while the Cruising class raced just the one coastal course.

Small numbers in the above-named classes meant that, once again, everyone was a winner – it was just the order of the chocolates that were rearranged a little. In fact, the only boat that wasn’t on the podium at the end of the day was Sail Quest Hi-Jinks who scored fourth places in both of today’s races.

The Platu division contesting the Coronation Cup as ever provided the most interest on the water. Ever this fleet is looking somewhat depleted, with 11 entries for an event which has in past years attracted as many as 19 boats. Never mind – the competition remains close and fierce, and there are a good many regulars out there banging the corners and trying to collect the best piece of silverware on offer at TOG.

Chris Way (AUS) is a past winner of the Coronation Cup, and after six races sits at the top of the table with 17 points, ahead of the Royal Thai Navy and Team Viewpoint on 21 points each. There’s unfinished business here – Rolf Heemskerk (Team Viewpoint, NED) has previously come within a half-point whisker of winning the event and once lost it on a countback, and is no doubt hoping that 4 points constitutes ‘striking distance’ with four races of a 10-race card remaining.

Over on the dinghy course it was all hammer and tongs on the start line, with Keerati Bualong (THA) leading the Laser pack on 8 points from six races, followed by Chusitt Punjamaca (THA) with 11 points.

The Thailand National Optimist Championships have produced a close fight at the top: Panwa Boonnak (THA) sails tomorrow with just 21 points from six races, chased by Jedtavee Yongyuennan THA) on 22. Duncan Gregor (HKG) has dominated a number of regional championships recently and is still in the frame with 26 points and then there is a big gap to fourth pace at 53 points. Six races down and four to go for a full card.

Top of the Gulf provides excellent racing conditions on a regular basis, and a few cold beers on the Regatta Lawn and the daily prizegiving party constitute some of the very best ‘après-sail’ of any regatta in Asia. Sailing out of a marina, and not having to wade out to a taxi boat at the start (and then the end) of every day is an added bonus. No doubt organisers would be happy to see more boats here, and to some extent it is a mystery that entry numbers remain low. There are classes provided for all levels of expertise, and a marina full of boats that are just not ‘joining in’ - so what is wrong with what looks from the outside to be a first-class sailing scene? Constructive suggestions on the customary postcard, please.

Here are the current standings:

1. Emagine 2, 1, 1, 2 (6)
2. THA 72 1, 3, 3, 1 (8)
3. Loco 3, 2, 2, 3 (10)
1. El Coyote 1, 1, 1, 1 (4)
2. Magic 2, 3, 2, 2 (9)
3. Nautical Wheeler 3, 2, 4, 3 (12)
4. Sail Quest Hi-Jinks 4, 4, 3, 4 (15)
1. Lady Bubbly 1, 1, 1 (3)
2. Le Vent 2, 2, 2 (6)
3. Thida Waree 3, 3, 3 (9)
Platu (Coronation Cup, first three only)
1. Easy Tiger 2, 1, 4, 2, 6, 2 (17)
2. Royal Thai Navy 1, 5, 3, 4, 4, 4 (21)
3. Team Viewpoint 4, 2, 5, 3, 2, 5 (21)
1. Bladerunner 2, 2, 1, 1 (6)
2. Sonic 1, 1, 2, 2 (6)

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