|Kingdom Property & Foxy Lady VI defend their titles at the Top of the Gulf Regatta|
The Top of the Gulf Regatta (ToG) has grown to become the largest multi-class regatta in Asia welcoming over 250 boats and more than 700 sailors and friends to Pattaya each year. The ToG Regatta attracts sailors from over 30 nationalities and is also a strong supporter of grass roots sailing with over 100 young Thai sailors competing each year at the event, providing them with an opportunity for international competition. Sailors compete for three perennial trophies: the Top of the Gulf Regatta trophy, the prestigious Coronation Cup (competed for by the one-design Platu class), and the Thailand Optimist National Championships, which combined make the awardwinning Top of the Gulf Regatta one of the most diverse class line-ups in the region.
The Coronation Cup, established to celebrate the Coronation Date of His Majesty the King of Thailand (5th May) – who himself is a proficient sailor winning the gold-medal at the 1967 SEA Games – saw a near-record line-up with crews from as far away as the UK taking part.
"The Coronation Cup is an integral part of the Top of the Gulf Regatta and has grown to become the largest one-design racing competition in the region. This year's fleet includes some top sailors – both regular competitors and new faces. It was a multi-national fleet with Australians the biggest contingent," said Bill Gasson, co-Chairman of the Top of the Gulf Regatta Organizing Committee. Dominated by Thai sailors, including many from the national team, the dinghy and beach catamaran fleets saw Thai competitors pitted against a strong team from Malaysia as well as sailors from Singapore, Hong Kong and beyond.
The Thailand Optimist National Championship is the pinnacle of competitive youth sailing in Thailand. The second oldest sailing trophy in the Kingdom, the championship is celebrating its 40th year and has a special place in the hearts of Thai sailors. The championship is raced over three days off Ocean Marina Yacht Club with a maximum of nine races making up the series.
This year's regatta will go down as one of the toughest yet. Not only were there top international crews and close racing on-the-water, the conditions proved to be some of the most varied, tricky and challenging in the Regatta's history. Out on the course on the final day, Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson AP'd waited for the wind to fill in and by late morning there was a moderate breeze, enough to get the fleet into sequence. Two races was the plan, and it was delivered for the IRC, one-design Platu and multihull classes, with one longer race preferred for the Cruising class.
After a slow start to the 2015 series, Kingdom Property (AUS) rallied to put in a string of five wins and take a commanding position at the top heading into the final day. With two races planned for the final day, a first in Race 1 secured the title for Scott Duncanson and his crew one race early – the first time ever that the title has been defended successfully and the fourth time in total that Scott has won the Coronation Cup.
With Kingdom Property not competing in the final race of the series, the minor places were still to be decided and Chris Way and his crew on Easy Tiger IV (AUS) returned to their winning ways to take the final race of the series (adding to their win in the first race of the series) and secure second place overall, three points ahead of Ben Williams' The Fox (HKG). After leading the Platu class at the end of the first day, the Thai team on Le vent 2 struggled in the lighter winds and fell off the pace to finish fifth overall, while the all-Thai female crew – soon heading to the SEA Games in Singapore – on the Platu YRAT, were sailing light with just four crew, and despite the weight disadvantage in the stiffer breeze they managed a commendable ninth out of 13 overall.
In IRC Racing 1, there has been some close competition, disappointing performances by some sailors and one DQ. It was enough to keep everyone on their toes and nothing was certain with the final two races' performances set to decide the final standings. Fully aware of this, it was EFG Mandrake (HKG) fastest out of the blocks to score line honours and the handicap win in Race 1, ahead of Foxy Lady VI (SIN).
Wan Ma Rang (THA), however, got caught out on the first downwind leg of the windward/ leeward course and slipped down the scoreboard to finish last in the race. It wasn't enough to knock them off the podium, however, as they secured third place by a single point margin, while at the top a win in the final race saw Foxy Lady VI, lead by Steve McConaghy, defend their class title and EFG Mandrake – first time competing at the Regatta – finish in second. A little over 20 seconds separated first and second places in the final day's first race for IRC Racing 2 with Amanda (SWE), who struggled with the third day's shifty winds, edging out Iolanthe (AUS) and El Coyote (AUS) on a late surge with a solid third place.
About Top of the Gulf Regatta Presented by Ocean Marina
Founded in 2005, the Top of the Gulf Regatta is owned and organized by Ocean Property, with support from the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, Royal Thai Navy, Royal Varuna Yacht Club and Pattaya City. The Top of the Gulf Regatta Presented by Ocean Marina is unique: it is the largest multi-class sailing event of its kind in Asia, incorporates the Coronation Cup and the Thailand National Optimist Championships, and is the only regatta in Thailand hosted at a marina. In recognition of the Regatta's success and cementing its position on the international sailing calendar, Top of the Gulf Regatta Presented by Ocean Marina was recently voted 'Asian Regatta of the Year' at the 2014 Asian Marine & Boating Awards.
A disappointing sixth place in the final race for Amanda – their worse on the scoreboard – meant they fell off the top spot and finished second overall. A first for Iolanthe saw them take advantage of Amanda's slip-up to win the title by two points with El Coyote finishing third overall.
Being scored with the NHC performance handicap system, the Cruising Class was a closely fought battle between the Japanese crew on Tai Two (JPN) and the USA team on Nautical Wheeler, and it wash Tai Two who won the title by 0.4 points from Nautical Wheeler with George Foose and his Dream team (USA), scoring a first in the last race, sneaking into third overall.
In 2014, the Ocean Multihull class went down to the wire and a three-boat shoot-out for the final race. However, Sonic (THA), after hearing over the radio the final race was not to happen, turned it off and headed back to the marina, missing the next radio call which rescinded the first. Re-capping that moment before heading out this morning Kirati Assakul said "I won't turn off my radio this time until I am back onshore after the racing has finished, and I'm in Bangkok!"
That proved to be a very wise decision as Sonic won the first race of the day by just three seconds to level the series with Cedar Swan (THA) with the final race set to decide the title. The longer second race for the Ocean Multihulls, however, favoured the handicap of the smaller Cedar Swan who was the runaway winner by almost 8 minutes on corrected time, and with that won the class title by a single point over Sonic and License to Chill (AUS) in third.
The regatta is hosted by the Ocean Marina Yacht Club, and in-line with the growth of marine leisure tourism, sports tourism and the Regatta in general, the marina has seen multi-million US dollar investment and expansion in recent years to make it now the largest marina in South East Asia, and the host for many national and international sporting events each year.