Organised by Pattaya’s Ocean Marina Yacht Club, South East Asia’s largest marina, the regatta is Thailand’s only marina-based regatta and provided an excellent on-water and onshore experience for the more than 700 sailors that took part this year.
Racing went down to the wire in all classes and the final day turned on the goods for the keelboat and multihull classes, showcasing the Gulf of Thailand at its best – 15-20 knots of breeze, sunny skies and warm weather sailing – and was proclaimed the “best day of the regatta” by all.
Previously unbeaten in its first season on the Asian circuit, the TP52 THA 72 (THA), skippered by Kevin Whitcraft, had struggled in the lighter airs early in the series and over the short windward-leeward courses was struggling on IRC against the smaller 40-footers in the class. The term “IRC” refers to the handicapping system regattas around this part of the world use for sailing races. As most boats are different (in design, size, length, weight etc. etc.) there needs to be a handicap applied to create a level playing field in each class.
Emagine, the modified Sydney 40 skippered by Scott Bradley, having traveled from it’s home-base in Phuket, was enjoying its first Top of the Gulf Regatta and finished the series with a 2,1,1,2,1,2,2, scoreline, claiming the IRC Racing 1 title at the first time of trying.
A win in the final race for THA 72 was enough to tie them on points with the rapidly improving Club Swan 42 Loco (USA), skippered by David Dimmock, and THA72 were awarded second place on count back.
Ocean Marina Yacht Club has become the home of one-design racing in Asia with 15 identical 25-foot Farr Platus based at the marina and a four-race Platu series being held each year. The jewel in the crown of the series is the Platu Coronation Cup which, first started in 1996, is now incorporated in the Top of the Gulf Regatta and this year welcomed 11 teams from the Netherlands, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Thailand.
Known for its close and competitive racing, this year did not disappoint as the winner was decided on the final run of the last race on the final day of the regatta. With the Russian team lead by Valeriy Dichenko comfortably ahead in the race, Rolf Heemskerk (Team Viewpoint), Chris Way (Easy Tiger 111), Ithinai Yingsiri (Pine-Pacific) and Colin Simonds (Wikki) were four-abreast, spinnakers up on the final run to the line.
The race for first overall was between Heemskerk and Way, and having previously tied in 2012, when the count back broke in Way’s favour, this year it was to be sweet revenge for Heemskerk as he caught the final puff to finished second in the race, one second ahead of Ithinai Yingsiri with Chris Way and crew one second behind Colin Simonds in fifth. The final series result saw a tie at the top between Heemskerk and Way with the count back this time breaking in favour of Rolf Heemskerk and his crew on Team Viewpoint. The “count back” is another yacht racing term that refers to when boats are tied on points. When this happens, they look back at how many first places each boat had, how many second places, how many thirds etc. until they find one boat that has more than the other, and that one is then declared the winner by count back.
Close racing underscored IRC Racing 3 with all in the class finishing on the podium during their eight race series. However, with six wins from eight there was no denying the clear winner, El Coyote (AUS), skippered by Gary Baguley. Martin Brown’s Nautical Wheeler (USA) managed to hold on for second place with local stalwart David Bell and his crew on Magic (AUS) finishing third.
Despite a protest by Lady Bubbly (AUS) in the final race, which they won, it did not affect the results as four wins from five races saw them comfortably win the Cruising class title ahead of Le Vent (THA) in second and Thida Waree (AUS) third.
Elsewhere on the course, the Ocean Multihulls class finished their series with a single race and a win was enough for Kirati Assakul and his crew on Sonic (THA) to defend their title from Bladerunner 7 (UK).
The Laser Standard, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 finished their series a day earlier, as did the 420s and 470s. Also racing over three days were the Optimist fleet who were competing for Thailand’s premier youth sailing trophy, the Thailand Optimist National Championships.
A storm, followed by fickle winds on the final day saw the race-card shortened and in Optimist Fleet A it was Thai youngster Panwa Boonnak who edged the win and was crowned the 2017 Thailand Optimist National Champion. Jedtavee Yongyuennan finished second and two international entries Mic Mohr (CRI) and Duncan Gregor (HKG), finished third and fourth respectively.
The 2017 Top of the Gulf Regatta will go down as a success – success in terms of sailing and all round fun, hospitality, and as an excellent showcase for the Gulf of Thailand. Essential in the regatta’s success is the support received from the Sports Authority of Thailand, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, Pattaya City, Royal Varuna Yacht Club and the Royal Thai Navy, as well as event sponsors and partners.
Podium results in each class:
IRC Racing 1
Emagine, Scott Bradley (11.0)
THA72, Kevin Whitcraft (14.0)
Loco, David Dimmock (14.0)
IRC Racing 3
El Coyote, Gary Baguley (8.0)
Nautical Wheeler, Martin Brown (15.0)
Magic, David Bell (17.0)
Lady Bubbly, Chris Mitchell (4.0)
Le Vent, Pote Suyasinto (8.0)
Thida Waree, Dwight Willis (11.0)
Team Viewpoint, Rolf Heemskerk (24.0)
Easy Tiger 111, Chris Way (24.0)
Naiad, Valeriy Dichenko (29.0)
Sonic, Kirati Assakul (8.0)
Bladerunner 7, Bob Garner (10.0)
Single-Handed Monohull Dinghy (Laser Standard and Laser Radial)
Keerati Bualong (7.0)
Chusitt Punjamala (10.0)
Asri Azman, (24.0)
Single-Handed Monohull Dinghy (Laser 4.7)
Sophia Montgomery (9.0)
Suchakree Dutthotsapol (17.0)
Chanokchan Wangsuk (20.0)
Double-Handed Monohull Dinghy (420 and 470)
Sutida Poonpat (8.0)
Suthon Yampinid (9.0)
Navee Thamsoontorn (17.0)
Thailand Optimist National Championships – Fleet A
Panwa Boonnak (21.0)
Jedtavee Yongyuennan (23.0)
Mic Mohr (25.0)
Thailand Optimist National Championships – Fleet B
Thippawan Khumpinit (147.0)
Tanakorn Bunekarat (151.0)
Vimutti Klinsukontac (174.0)
For more information and full results, visit www.topofthegulfregatta.com