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Top of the Gulf Regatta celebrates 8 years on the water
Written by Administrator    Thursday, 09 August 2012 09:27    PDF Print E-mail

Family team racing at 2012 Top of the Gulf Regatta
Fantasia is a 50-foot catamaran designed and built by owner Andrew Stransky and family in Australia. Her cruising lines and large size belies the speed she has under sail. Fantasia walked away with the Royal Langkawi International Regatta earlier this year with a clean sweep of seven straight wins. She preceded that by placing fourth at the 2011 Phuket King's Cup Regatta – her first ever attempt at the infamously "hard-to-win" event – and was the only catamaran to do the entire Raja Muda International Regatta – a mix of passage and inshore races.
More recently, Fantasia added to her trophy cabinet with a class win at 2012 The Bay Regatta – Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi.
What is notable is not just the success of the boat – though she clearly has pedigree – but the fact the crew for is mostly family – father, mother and daughter, as well as septuagenarian parents aboard. Three generations showing the Asian multihull scene a clean pair of heels. Impressive.
Fantasia and the Stranksy family are now enjoying the Gulf of Thailand and at the Top of the Gulf Regatta are taking on a quarter of Corsairs, local Thai favourite Radab Kanjanavit and his crew on Cedar Swan, and the rapidly improving SeaCart 26 Sweet Chariot, skippered by John Higham, amongst others.
Andrew's pedigree includes three Sydney to Hobart races. He was near the top of the rankings in the Australian Laser youth division and a world circumnavigate aboard his previous yacht. He has been sailing all his life, his parents sailed out from England on a 35-foot yacht, his experience runs far and deep not just in multihulls but in monohulls alike.
Following the Top of the Gulf Regatta, the Stransky's will take Fantasia south to the Samui Regatta – the final event of the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship.
Story & Photo Marine Scene Asia

Overview
Asia's largest multi-class regatta, the Top of the Gulf Regatta, celebrated its eighth year with an expanded fleet and entries from throughout Asia and beyond. Ocean Marina underwent an expansion recently, which added more berthing capacity for regatta participants, and recent dredging allows larger boats to berth in the marina.
Over the years, the entry list and competing classes at the Top of the Gulf Regatta has continued to grow impressively and the 2012 fleet line-up was one of the most competitive yet. More than 600 participants in 270+ sailing craft, from 30 countries competed in 12 classes, on four racing areas over four days of racing at Asia's largest multi-class regatta.
Close to 70 boats raced on the keelboat and multihull courses, including one of the most competitive fleet of 40-footers ever assembled in Asia, as well as a large one-design Platu class competing for the Coronation Cup, plus top racing, cruising and multihull fleets.
On the second course, the growing fleet of beach cats saw a number of international champions take part, and the monohull dinghies (single and double-handed) formed a large and competitive fleet as well.
The pedigree of sailors was exceptional, with winners from all major Asian Regattas in the last 12 months taking part, as well as Olympic hopefuls, national and regional champions competing in the Optimist, Windsurfing, Laser and beach catamaran classes. Also up for grabs are the National Optimist titles and the long running One Design Platu 25 Coronation Cup. A record fleet entered in the highly competitive IRC keelboat and multihull classes.
In the absence of big yachts, Neil Pryde's regatta winning Welbourn 52 Hi Fi and current AYGP Championship leader had to contend with Asia's rapidly expanding and fully optimised 40-foot class. Fresh from the Phuket King's Cup victory, Yasuo Nanamori's Summit 40 Karasu, was pitted against other regatta newcomers, among them David Ross' Kerr 40 KukuKERchu, Steve Manning's Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2, Timothy Long's newly-launched Soto 30 with the Red Sailing Team, Bill Bremner's newly acquired Mills King 40 Foxy Lady 6 and Simon Powell's Archamault 40 R Sell Side Dream. Regulars on the Asian scene Kevin Whitcraft's GP42 Won Ma Rang, Ben Copley's Swan 42 Katsu, Rick Pointon's J130 JingJing, Dimitry Gornyy's Sayer 13 Siren and Robert van Paridon's Beneteau 44.7 Tantrum all had their sights set on ruining the favourite's party.
After dividing the entries based on IRC ratings, two evenly matched classes (2 and 3) saw mainly local-based Thai boats fight it out on the water. Gary Baguley's H&P 52 El Coyote topped the list in Class 2, but had its hands full with David Bell's Jenneau 35 Magic, Jean Rheault's J41 Souay I, Brad Kirk Farr 12.8m Dynamite.
Surapol Tippawongse's X99 Hi Jinks, Lennart Fahlgren's Tasker 32 Amanda and the two Royal Thai Navy's Farr MRXs 36 Navy 1 & 2 would fight it out in class 3.
Last year, Andrew Watt's Jenneau 36i San Sanook and Eric Habers' Bavaria 39 Reef Knot claimed the silver and bronze medals in the Cruising Class and they hoped to go one better this year. Peter Herning's bigger Bavaria 42 Kirafiki was ready to mix it up with the Japanese pairing of Tetsuo Ogino's Oceanis 320 Olmi and Sadunori Osada's Beneteau 21.7 Tai Two.
Over the years, it has proved difficult to have a consistent Sports Boat turnout at regattas in Thailand, but this finally appears to be changing with two new Shaw 650s being built and launched locally. That makes it six entries all very different in design concept and performance ranging from Scott Duncanson's Phuket 8 Qantum. Paul Murphy's Welbourn 25 with the horizontal waterline foil Brace Brace Brace, Mikael Pophillat's T650 CU Later and the three Shaw 650s shared between Miki and Kipson Beck.

The Ferret wins the Coronation Cup (again)
Heading into the last day at the 2012 Top of the Gulf Regatta, tensions were high. Protest room action the evening before meant the top two in the Platu Class were equal on points with a two-race finale planned, while in other classes places could be lost (or gained) on the last day's performance.
With all the dinghy classes finishing their three-day series, only the keelboat and multihulls took to the water on the last day, and as crews left the dock, black clouds from the north looked ominous. Would the final day be a wet and wild affair?
This was not the case. The expected storm never arrived, hanging along the coastline toying with the patience of the Race Committee who searchedg for some breeze on the race course to get the classes underway. By early afternoon, the wind gods were clearly not going to play ball and Principal Race Officer Jerry Rollin, called it a day.
The regatta was over... all bar the shouting and celebrating, and for the Platu Class, back to the protest room. The Jury's rulings made no change to the standings. The Ferret, skippered by Chris Way and the all Australian "Easy Tiger Racing" team, including Tom Spithill, the younger brother of America's Cup winning skipper James Spithill, finished the regatta on equal points with Nataya, skippered by Rolf Heemskerk. Looking at the score sheet, each boat had the same number of firsts, the same number of seconds, the same number of thirds, fourths and fifths, and both dropped their worst score, a sixth. Working back through the Series, The Ferret scored first in the penultimate race and thus, on count-back, was declared the winner of the 2012 Coronation Cup. Tight battles were seen throughout the one-design fleet with Naiad, skippered by Russel Ken taking third place just two points ahead of Ian Short's Short Time in fourth.

Neil Pryde Racing Series a success at ToG Regatta
Twenty-two windsurfers from four countries competed in the NeilPryde Racing Series at the Top of the Gulf Regatta.
This RS:One Class features a new, attractive, and dynamic race format: one sail, one board - everyone on the same equipment allowing male and female racers of all ages to compete together with equal chances.
Courses were set within Ocean Marina, providing a unique spectator experience and allowing for some exciting close-quarter competition on-the-water.
Racing took place over two days in three divisions – Male under 22 years; Male over 22 years; and Women – the top three in each division went into the "Super Final" – a single race to determine the overall winner.
After the final three races in the series, first in the male under 22 years division was Natthanont Chui, followed by Pornanan Payurgkasem in second and Sirichai Phusiri in third. In the male over 22 years division, Thai Olympic hopeful Ek Boonsawad was the hot favourite and after a poor start in Race One, he found his form and took the series win with Navin Singsart in second and Natthaphong Phonopparat in third.
In the women's division, competition was tight in all three races, with Thai Napalai Tansai, who will be representing Thailand at the London 2012 Olympics, being the pre-series favourite. She finished the series number one ahead of Sunaree Soemros in second with Sarocha Prumprai third.
Being a one-design class, all RS:One equipment was supplied by NeilPryde and is equal, giving an equal chance to all competitors no matter sex or age. The winners of each division and overall Super Final winner shared the prize money of US$3,000.
In the Super Final, Natthaphong Phonoppharat sailed a stunning race and was announced the inaugural winner of the Thailand stage of the NeilPryde Racing Series.
Taking place in Thailand for the first time, the NeilPryde Racing Series held its first stop of 2012 in Pattaya in conjunction with the Top of the Gulf Regatta – the Series' first-ever stop in Thailand. Subsequent sailing venues for 2012 include Istanbul (Turkey), Dunkerque (France), Porto (Portugal), Cardiff (Wales), Trapani (Italy), Nice (France), Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
Story & Photo by Marine Scene Asia

An interesting array of skippers guided 14 racing teams competing in the hotly contested onedesign Platu class for the prestigious Coronation Cup. Three teams represented the Singapore Management University (SMU) joined Aussie legend Frazer Johnston, fellow Aussie Chris Way, Singapore's Simon Piff and Jun Avecilla's of the Philippines. Past winners making a return visit were Rolf Heemskerk up from Malaysia and Thai favourite Wiwat Poonpat.
A huge variety of Ocean multihulls went head to head in the regatta. Henry Kaye's Sea Cart 26 Sweet Chariot was skippered by John Higham with a team from the builder CMI. Andrew Stansky's allconquering 15m cat Fantasia was looking to add another trophy to their collection on her first season in Southeast Asia. Khun Radab's F9A Cedar Swan and Khun Nim's Crowther 42 Sonic have both won here before and expect to compete well. A selection of locally built Corsair trimarans, Thierry Cercleron's C28R Bladerunner, David Race Corsair 28 Free Wheeler, Paul Koch Sprint 750 No Limit and Bob Garner Dash 750 Dash were very evenly matched and boat handling in the forecasted high teens will make all the difference.
The largest fleet of boats was the 100-plus Optimists racing for the 36th Thailand Optimist National title. Chaninat Poolsirikot, the 2011 winner, returned to defend her title oozing with confidence from her recent win at the Asian Sailing Championships. Organized together with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT), teams travelled from far and wide to take part including Thai teams from Royal Varuna Yacht Club, Samui and Phuket together with neighbouring Malaysian teams from Terengganu and Sabah, Past winners have gone on to become Asian and World Champions making this the pre-eminent Optimist event in the Kingdom.
A new addition this year was the NeilPryde Racing Series, which joined the regatta racing their one-design ISAF-approved RS:One sailboards; and the all new, never-raced-before, Soto 30, making its worldwide debut at the Regatta. The Windsurfing Association of Thailand sent members of the Thai national team to take part in the Series, including Napalai Tansai and gold-medal winner at 16th SEA Games in Indonesia (2011), Ek Boonsawad, both of who will be representing Thailand at the London Olympics. Also competing were Siriporn Kaewduang-Ngam, Navin Singsrart, Natthapong Po-nopparat and Sarocha Prumprai, all from the national team (after the TOG Regatta, they went off to compete in the 2012 Asian Beach Games in Haiyang, China, in June).

Sarawut Phetsiri crowned winner of 2012 Thailand Optimist Championship
The 2012 Thailand Optimist Championship saw three days of racing off Ocean Marina Yacht Club in some of the most challenging conditions the youth sailors have experienced.
Going into the final day, 2011 national champion, Chaninat Poolsirikot had a onepoint lead over Sarawut Phetsiri, with Pongsapat Pumyam a further two points back in third. All was in play for with three more races scheduled and the drop race to come into play.
Sarawut took the win in the first race with Malaysian entry Connie Riverra Tsen in second and Suthon Yampinit in third. Pongsapat scored a sixth with Chaninat finishing eighth. In the second race, the top three tracked each other around the course and Chaninat fought back with a second place finish, behind Sarawut in first and Pongsapat in third.
The title went down to the wire and was decided in the final race of the series.
Markey Lilienthal saved his best for last taking the win in the final race ahead of Sarawut in second and Nopporn Boonchard in twelfth. Sarawut's second was enough to take the overall title with Pongsapat in second and Chaninat third.
In 1976, the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT) started Junior Sailing, a programme to encourage and train young Thai sailors and send them to compete in international sailing events. In the same year, YRAT started what was then called the Optimist Thailand Championship Cup, known today as the Thailand Optimist Championship.
The best performing girl this year was Chaninat, the 2011 winner and winner of the 2012 Asian Sailing Championships (Girls Division). Second in the girls division went to Connie Riverra Tsen with Kanapan Pachatikapanya in third.
In the Under 12 division, Voravong Ratcharttanarak placed first with Suthon Yampinit in second and Kamonchanok Klahan in third.
The best performing international youngster was Connie Riverra Tsen (Malaysia) with Brandon Sung (Malaysia) in second and Hong Kong youngster Calum Gregor in third.
Now in its 36th year, the Thailand Optimist Championship is as competitive as ever, with leading Thai juniors, international teams and regional champions competing for the title. 110 youngsters from nine countries competed this year and while prizes were presented at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club, adult sailors looked on at the sailing stars of the future.
Photo by Guy Nowell


Wrap-up from Captain Marty (asianyachting.com)
"Although the last morning arrived surrounded by ominous dark storm clouds, there was a light breeze blowing which looked promising. As the 11:00am start time drew near, the building storm over Pattaya temporarily exerted its pressure and disrupted the flow from the SW. After three stunning days of racing the breeze completely deserted the race course and left the fleet waiting for something to materialize. Eventually just before the 13:00 cut off time, with the sea completely glassed over, PRO Jerry Rollin had no other alternative but to call it a day and send everyone back to the marina. What a let-down, as everyone was full of anticipation for the final day showdown. The only thing left to do was apply the drop race and recalculate the points' tally, which still held a remarkable twist of fate in some classes.
"By dropping the missed race due to being high and dry in the marina entrance, Neil Pryde's Welbourn 52 Hi Fi became the 2012 IRC 1 champion winning one of the few regattas he has not won in his illustrious sailing career on Asian waters. Yasuo Nanamori's Summit 40 Karasu was relegated to second place due to his slow start in the event. David Ross' Kerr 40 KukuKERchu and Steve Manning's Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2 ended up tied on 16 points but the Race 2 win for KukuKERchu put them on the third step of the podium.
"David Bell's Jenneau 35 Magic and Gary Baguley's H&P 52 El Coyote traded first and second places throughout the regatta but it was the Race 1 win for Bell's Magic that secured them the IRC 2 title. Brad Kirk's Farr 12.8m Dynamite and K. Pote Suyasinto's Jenneau 42i Le Vent battled it out for third with Kirk's Dynamite winning out.
"Once again, Damrong Sirisakorn's Farr MRX 36 Navy 1 reigned supreme to add another TOTGR IRC 3 trophy to their cabinet. Gregory Ho's X99 Hi Jinks managed to take a couple of wins from the Navy but had to settle on second place. The other Farr MRX 36 Navy Academy skippered by Khun Navi seemed to lack the horsepower of their sister ship on some occasions and ended up in third place.
"Four wins in a row handed Peter Herning's Bavaria 42 Kirafiki a walkover in the Cruising Class. Consistently scoring second place Andrew Watt's Jenneau 36i San Sanook naturally came second. Eric Habers' Bavaria 39 Reef Knot secured third after a battle with Sadunori Osada's Beneteau 21.7 Tai Two in fourth place.
"Aussie Noel Leigh-Smith's Shaw 650 Crime Scene decimated the Sportsboat fleet with six wins in a row. Local Shaw 650 promoter Kipsan Beck huffed and puffed but could not place his Porn Star any better than second place. After a slow start, Paul Murphy's Welbourn 25 Brace Brace Brace with the horizontal foil came good after burying the leeward hiking wing in strong wind to take third place.
"Unfortunately, the much anticipated twoway shoot out for the long running Coronation Cup did not eventuate. Although Chris Way's Aussie team on The Ferret incurred a four-point penalty on the second last day, when the drop race was introduced they ended up tied on points with their biggest rival Rolf Heemskerk's, Nataya. On count back the same number of first second and third places plus the sixth place drop race still had them tied, so it came down to The Ferret winning the last race to sail away with the prestigious King's Coronation Cup. Rolf Heemskerk was deprived of the win and settled for second. Ken Russell's Naiad held onto third place to be the best of the rest in a fourteen boat fleet.
"After Henry Kaye's Sea Cart 26 Sweet Chariot skippered by John Higham dropped their Did Not Finish (DNF) they romped away with the Ocean Multihull title on their first attempt. Andrew Stansky's 15m cat Fantasia led for most the regatta but finished second overall. David Race's Corsair 28 Free Wheeler was the best of a gaggle of different Corsair trimaran's and slotted into third place.
"Every time we are asked how to run a regatta, the reply is 'take a page out of Bill Gasson's organizational skills and delivery methods.' They maybe a bit abrupt for some people but all the hard work is conducted long before the regatta starts. Individual roles can be divided into race management, sponsorship, social activities, daily boat logistics and media. With all these in place the organizers work is done and they can sit back and oversee the operation as the regatta progresses. Having a marina at your disposal is a blessing and a area at the front door makes it convenient for all concerned. The only thing that cannot be controlled is the weather, but there will always be highs and lows with everything in between. The unique multi-class nature of this event caters for dinghy's right through to big monohulls and multihulls. As ISAF encourages youth sailing, what better way of introducing self-confidence and character-building than to mix the kids with the adults and have them stand alongside some legends of the sport. It's taken some years but finally the secret is out that the ToG regatta is a "must do" regatta, so mark May 3rd to 7th 2013 firmly in the diary." (Photos SM)
www.topofthegulfregatta.com