|Heemskerk's skill shines through for victory in Platu Open|
Heemskerk's skill shines through
for victory in Platu Open Story by Kev Scott (www.yachtsinthailand.com) Photos by Scott Murray
Seven Platus fought hard for two days and eight races in terrific conditions sailing out of the beautiful Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya.
This event is the third of four comprising Thailand's One Design Platu Championship, which has been running since 2008. The others are the Platu Transworlds, the Coronation Cup staged during the Top of the Gulf Regatta, and the Platu Cup, held in October.
Day one of the Open saw winds of up to 12 knots and it was obvious right from the start that all seven boats had very capable crew onboard. One simple mistake could cost at least two places in the fleet.
It was good to see three "all Thai" teams competing. The quality and competitiveness of all crews was easy to see, with six of the seven boats sporting brand new sets of sails. This One Design Championship has always provided some of the closest, most exiting racing and this event was no exception.
Races were controlled by the very capable Race Officer Chris Dando, who had to contend with some unusual wind shifts from time to time but managed this with minimum delays. These shifts also meant tacticians had to be fully awake, or suffer massive fleet position changes. On day two, the wind settled in at about 6 knots and this allowed Rolf Heemskerk to show his exceptional boat handing in weaker wind conditions. Battles raged throughout the fleet with some races decided by a wave or wind gust just before the finish line.
There are often changes in activity once an event like this nears its conclusion and the two main contenders, Rolf Heemskerk and Scott Duncanson, began the match race dance during race 7. The committee boat crew were treated to a ten-jibe dance within the last few metres of this race, which was eventually decided by a very slim margin. Both foredeckers were seen calling for oxygen afterwards and had a few "words" with their skippers when breath returned.
It was great to see Khun Ithinai and Khun Pote enjoying good results during the event because they have both supported this championship for many years and their enthusiasm is very much appreciated by the organizers.
Thanks to Kevin Whitcraft for entering so soon after his return from the Mediterranean where he is racing his recently acquired TP52 which we hope to see entered at this year's Kings Cup. Kevin's sons, Don and Dylan were on board also, to remind us what competent sailors they are, before they head off to university life.
Good to see Marco Belonje back at the helm, but unfortunately he had to contend with some sails almost as old as his foredecker and this proved fatal in the lighter winds of day 2. Marco was one of the original crew members who started this One Design racing, with four Platus in Pattaya eight years ago. The memories are just as exciting as the racing is now and it's good to know that those early days have reaped the handsome reward of a healthy One Design Championship today.
Special thanks to the Ocean Marina Yacht Club for its on-water support; Chris Dando, Race Officer and Protest Committee; Jordan Rumsby; Chairman of the Protest Committee; Neil Semple, Protest Committee by video link; Doug Smith, behind the scenes organization; & Tony Hewitt for his help on the committee boat flags. And, of course, www.yachtsinthailand.com, as the "promoters" of the One Design Platu Championship of Thailand.
Final Standings Rolf Heemskerk, Team Viewpoint, 9 points
Scott Duncanson, Team Kingdom Property, 16 points
Kevin Whitcraft, Team Stingray, 22 points
Tim Browne, Team Weasel, 24 points
Ithinai Yingsiri, Team Pine Pacific, 32 points
Pote Suyasin, Team Teka, 36 points
Marco Belonje, Team Ceteau, 42 points