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Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time
Written by Administrator    Saturday, 03 August 2013 15:59    PDF Print E-mail
Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time ToG's strength lies
in its diversity
Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time Start Line

From 3rd to 7th May, the 2013 Top of the Gulf Regatta (affectionately known as the ToG) attracted over 600 sailors to Pattaya to compete in Asia's largest regatta at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club. The regatta has become the largest multiclass regatta of its kind in Asia, regularly attracting over 200 boats from more than 30 countries.

A multinational mix of sailors competing across 12 classes of boats makes the TOG Regatta unique in its size and diversity, and a key sporting event in the region.

The ToG has proved to be a valuable training ground for sailing stars around the world, regularly attracting national, regional and world championships to compete in what has become a world-class sailing event.

Attracting top sailing talent and participants of over 30 nationalities, the regatta also provides an international-standard competition format for Thai sailors, which has proved invaluable and has helped develop Thai stars such as Kerati Bualong (2012 Olympics competitor), Noppakao Poonpat (2010 World Optimist Champion, fourth place in 2012 29er Worlds) and Damrongsak Vongtim (2006-2008 Asian Games, Hobie Class gold medal), to name just a few.

Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time

"The Regatta attracts in excess of 500 sailors each year and through the event, participant accommodation and entertainment expenditure, the regatta contributes significantly to the local economy. The media coverage, which includes international TV reaching over 100 million households and local and international print and online coverage, positively promotes Pattaya and sailing to the world," said Mr. William Gasson, Chairman, of the Top of the Gulf Regatta.

"2013 was the ninth sailing of the Top of the Gulf Regatta – one of the Asia's most popular regattas – and like other regattas around the world such as Antigua Sailing Week in the Caribbean or Cowes Week in the UK, the regatta is an important driver for tourism attracting repeat tourists and bringing new tourists to the area, and increasing the popularity and awareness of the destination. The sport of sailing has seen considerable growth in Thailand in recent years, and the TOG Regatta provides an international platform for Thai sailors and our commitment to supporting that growth and the Pattaya area remains strong," continued Gasson.

In addition to the large international participation, the Regatta has a strong domestic following, arguably the largest local sailing participation of any regatta in Thailand.

"Since the beginning nine years ago, our goal has been to put Pattaya on the map as a sailing destination through encouraging international sailors to participate and media to cover the event. Equally, we have been active in encouraging participation of local boats and resident sailors and give local sailors the opportunity to compete against an international fleet," said Gasson.

"In line with this, together with Ocean Marina Yacht Club we have been active in supporting grass roots sailing in the area. Creating and supporting youth sailing opportunities, nine years ago we incorporated the Thailand Optimist National Championships with the Regatta and have hosted and supported the event ever since. Over 100 Thai youngsters are expected to race against sailors from Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Myanmar in a fleet of almost 130 boats this year," added Gasson. Now in its 38th year, the National Optimist championship is the second oldest annual sailing event in Thailand and continues to develop youth talent and introduce Thai youngsters to the sport of sailing. And this year, the TOG Regatta organizers welcomed Sansiri PLC as presenting sponsor of the championships.

"At Sansiri, we aim to construct a life, not just a building. In addition, our CSR campaigns focus on sustainably supporting children in three areas; sport, health, and education. Sansiri is proud to be the main sponsor for Thailand Optimist National Championships 2013; young Optimist sailors are the future of the sport. Over 100 young sailors from Thailand and overseas will take part in this international-standard event and we are happy to support sailing opportunities for Thai youngsters and their development in the sport," said Khun Ob-oom Chutrakul, Social Director of Sansiri PLC, presenting sponsor of the Thailand Optimist National Championships 2013. The 600+ sailors at the 2013 TOG Regatta competed for three prestigious trophies: the top racing yachts vied for the Top of the Gulf Regatta Trophy; the one-design Platu Class competed for the prestigious Coronation Cup, named after the coronation date of His Majesty the King of Thailand (5th May), and which this year celebrated a record fleet; and the third trophy was awarded to the winner of Thailand Optimist National Championships – all three have become iconic trophies in Thailand yachting. Twelve classes competed in the TOG Regatta this year, including IRC 1, IRC 2, IRC 3, IRC 4 Cruising, Platu (competing for the Coronation Cup), Ocean Multihulls, Formula 18, Open Beach Multihulls, Single handed monohull dinghies, Double handed monohull dinghies, Optimist (Thailand Optimist National Championships) and returning for their second year are the NeilPryde RS:One Windsurfs.

Pattaya is home to a variety of top sporting events and regularly attracts international sporting competitions. Sports tourism is a key part of the region's tourism strategy and TOG Regatta, a home-grown event with a strong international and local mix of participants, continues to be a significant contributor to tourism and a cornerstone of Pattaya's sports tourism strategy.

Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time
Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time
Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time
Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time Finish Line (Captain Marty's final day summary)

Despite the scores already on the board for most classes, all the boats were back out on the water for the final day of racing. They were just as determined to strike out, as they were three days ago for Race 1. Although the light Southerly breeze proved to be a bit shifty, the big boats and multihulls completed one race for their series. While the feisty One-Design Platu fleet completed their second race, the breeze from a storm cell that was building over the land throughout the day, descended on them and completely reversed the course layout. However, the cream-of-the-crop always seem to be in the leading pack and invariably fighting it out for the podium places.

Although Bill Bremner's Mills King 40 Foxy Lady 6, had all but wrapped up the Class 1 title, this did not stop Kevin Whitcraft's GP42 Wan Marang from having a final go at them. Finishing over 10 minutes in front of Foxy Lady 6, the crew of Wan Marang were eagerly waiting whether they have done enough this time. Low and behold they had, by a mere 8 seconds, which has boosted their confidence before the 2012-13 season ending the shoot-out in Samui. A further minute behind, David Ross' Kerr 40 KukuKERchu corrected out in third place overall and is in the process of relocating the boat to Hong Kong and looking forward to future challenges there.

Since scoring 2nd place in Race 1, Matt Allen's Sydney Hobart Race crew on his Adams 10 Ichiban completely dominated, by winning six races in a row, and took home the Class 2 title. Cpl. Wiwat Poonpat's Thai Navy 1 seemed to be the only team that could put up a fight with Allen's Ichiban but once again they have to settle on second place. Although Brad Kirk's Farr 12.8m Dynamite was back on form for third place on the final day, it was Dean Rheault's J41 Souy 1 that took the third step on the podium.

By winning all seven Class 3 races, The Singapore Management University (SMU) chartered X99 Hi Jinks skippered by Chung Pei Quan has outclassed the opposition and was the only class winner to keep a clean sheet. Despite Lennart Falhgren's Jenneau 35 San Sanook and Japan's Sadunori Osada Beneteau 21.7 Tai Two, sneaking into second and third places on the final day, Patinyakorn Buranrom's Hood 23 Ooh la la had done enough in earlier races to earn the silver medal. After an up-and-down start to the regatta,

Top of the Gulf Regatta sails for the ninth time Osada's Tai Two has consistently scored third places to end up with the bronze medal.

Even though Gary McNally's Black Betty was caught offside in the last race, when wind from a passing storm cell completely reversed the windward/leeward course, they won four races and scored two 2nd and 3rd places plus a 5th to win the prestigious Coronation Cup on their first attempt. A very determined crew on Brian McMaster's Problem Child (Formerly Short Time) scored 1st and 2nd places on the last day to close within 3 points of the leader but were forced to settle in second overall. Quite often in this hotly contested One-Design Platu 25 Class, the cream of the crop always seem to be in the leading pack and invariably fighting it out for the podium places. Representing Hong Kong, Andrew Moore's Tigrana has also found some cracking form and although they couldn't quite topple the leaders, a string of third places keeps them in third overall. Defending champion, Aussie Chris Way's Easy Tiger IV ended in fourth and the other Batam built Platu, Rolf Heemskerk's Team ViewPoint in fifth overall.

David Liddell's Corsair 37 Miss Saigon was back on form on the last day and added the Multihull Class title to their extensive collection of trophies. In the light wind, Scott Galle's Black Swan got the better of Khun Nim's Crowther 42 Sonic, when they ran out of time but they swapped places in the overall stakes.8*

If anyone knows how run a regatta and throw a good party, it is Organizing Chairman Bill Gasson. Being one of the founding fathers of the Phuket King's Cup and Samui Regatta's, his swan song is the Top of the Gulf Regatta held at Ocean Marina, the home of the yachting elite in Thailand. Very encouraging is watching 120 kids manoeuvring their Optimists around and youthful energy displayed in the dinghy and catamaran classes. This region is where many Thai champions spring from, so it is no surprise that Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Myanmar, have sent teams to compete against the best.

For several young Olympic hopefuls, this regatta is a wonderful opportunity for them to mix in their own waters with the star studded line up and rub shoulders with sailing legends crewing on the big boats. The new Aussie race team lead by PRO Denis Thompson preformed a seamless change over and maintained the high standards expected from them.