The 2010 Top of the Gulf Regatta, held from 30th April to 4th May 2010, set sail despite the political turmoil in nearby Bangkok.  Hosted by the Ocean Marina Yacht Club on Jomtien Beach, a group of international crews competed in the largest regatta in the Gulf of Thailand.

Now in its sixth year, the Top of the Gulf Regatta continues to grow from strength-to-strength. Having established itself initially as an event providing junior sailors with international-standard competitive racing, the Regatta has seen rapid growth in the keel boat and multihull fleets making it a tuly multi-class regatta and one-of-a-kind in Thailand.

Participants came from over 20 different countries, including Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, China even Myanmar, and of course Thailand. The diverse mix of nationalities taking part is a sign of how popular this international has become since it's inception in 2004.

With Ocean Marina Yacht Club as the Regatta HQ, the ToG is the only marina-based Regatta in Thailand. Being the home of the Regatta since its beginning, the Top of the Gulf Regatta stages the Platu Coronation Cup and Thailand Optimist Nationals attracting some of the leading international sailors in the region, providing competitive sailing experience for junior, dinghy and beach catamaran sailors.

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”We are very proud to be the official host of this international regatta since 2005. Our aim is to promote this area as Thailand’s yachting center. It’s a great event for Pattaya and Thailand. It continues to grow and this year we expect more boats than ever before and we are sure they will enjoy the facilities and hospitality of Ocean Marina Yacht Club,” said Mr. Kirati Assakul, Board of Directors of Ocean Marina Yacht Club.

Eleven classes competed including IRC Racing 1, IRC Racing 2, IRC Cruising, Ocean Multihulls, Sportsboats, Platus, Hobie Tiger, Hobie 16, Open Monohull Dinghy, Lasers and Optimists.    

As well as the keel boat and multihull classes, the Top of the Gulf Regatta comprises dinghies and beach catamarans. Classes will include Hobie 16, Hobie Tiger, Open Monohull Dinghy, Lasers, and Optimists. The junior Optimist sailors competed in the Thailand Optimist Nationals. The Top of the Gulf Regatta is like no other, being the only truly multi-class regatta in Thailand. The keel boat fleet was the largest ever at the Top of the Gulf Regatta.

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The Optimist fleet gathers each year at the ToG to compete for the Thailand Optimist Nationals. Last year's overall winner, Noppakao Poonpat, competed against 128 other sailors hoping to defend her title and add to her growing trophy cabinet. Thai Laser Champion Keerati Bualong returned to race in the Laser class hot on the heels of his recent success at the Asia Pacific Laser and Championships where he took first place.

The 2010 Regatta saw highly competitive racing in all classes. The IRC Racing 1 class saw 2009 champion and 2009 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, Ichi Ban, skippered by Matt Allen, return to defend its title. The Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has become a regular on Thailand’s regatta circuit and he sailed his Beneteau First 44.7 against another 44.7, Tantrum, as well as the popular Thai-crewed entry Lawana (X 512). Pushing hard for the title was 2007/8 Asian Yachting Grand Prix champion Evolution Racing (TP52) skippered by Ray Roberts, the GP42 AA skippered by Kevin Whitcraft President of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, Phuket stalwart Katsu (Swan 42) skippered by Ben Copley.

Hot on the heels of wins at 2010 Royal Langkawi International Regatta and 2010 Singapore Straits Regatta, Roberts was the 2007/8 Asian Yachting Grand Prix champion and was just one point off the leader in the 2009/10 AYGP. Roberts campaigns throughout Asia and took part in the Top of the Gulf Regatta in 2009 for the first time, entering a Platu in the one-design Platu Coronation Cup, which he went on to win.

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Matt Allen has participated in many of Thailand's regattas in recent years with considerable successes, most notably his consecutive wins at the Phuket King's Cup Regatta the last two years. Outside Asia, Allen, the Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, is better known for sailing his Jones 70 Ichi Ban, and was fourth across the line at the 2009 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Regatta.

Others challenging for the IRC Racing 1 crown included Phuket regatta stalwart Katsu (Swan 42) skippered by Ben Copley, the GP42 AA, skippered by President of the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Organizing Committee Kevin Whitcraft, as well as the popular Thai-crewed entry Lawana (X 512).

From the Philippines PRO Jerry Rollin and his team looked after the big boats while local race officers from the RVYC and Thai Navy ran the dinghies and the beach cats on three different courses. Bryan Willis, past Chairman of the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race, headed up the ToG jury again. Principal Race Officer for the keel boat and multihull classes was Jerry Rollin.

A large multihull fleet participated with 2009 champion Radab Kanjanavit hoping to skipper his Cedar Swan (F9-A) to a consecutive victory in the Ocean Multihull class. He was pushed hard by a number of Corsairs and by Phuket regatta veteran Henry Kaye on his Seacart 30 Thor, who raced a clean series to win the 2009 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta.

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Down to the Wire as 'The Ferret' Wins the 2010 Platu Coronation Cup

Thailand is home to the largest one-design Platu fleet in Asia with the majority based at Ocean Marina Yacht Club. Each year the Platu fleet competes for the prestigious Platu Coronation Cup. At a mere 25-feet size is not everything for Platu sailors.

There was all to play for the on the final day of the Platu Coronation Cup as only one point separated first and second going into the two-race schedule for the final day. The starts were expected to be key in determining who would be crowned the 2010 cup winner.

Twelve Platus contested the 2010 Platu Coronation Cup at the Top of the Gulf Regatta Part of the four-race Platu Championship Series, the Platu Coronation Cup always attracts a highly-competitive international fleet of one-design Platus and this year did not disappoint.

Entries from five different countries included Thailand (four teams), Malaysia (one team), Australia (one team), Japan (two teams) and Singapore (three teams from Singapore Management University), with a large variety of nationalities amongst the crews.

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The Platu was brought to Thailand by a group of businessmen, including Virot Nualkhair. They commissioned Bruce Farr to design a one-design, economically-priced high performance boat suitable for Thailand's prevailing conditions. The first Platus were built by McDell Marine in New Zealand and in 1995 the first 28 were delivered to Pranburi on Thailand's Gulf Coast and based at the former Phatra Marina. (As a result of its successful design Beneteau visited the fleet in Pranburi and decided to buy moulds from McDell Marine and began manufacturing the Beneteau 25 in Europe. There are now approximately 600 Beneteau 25s in Europe and Worlds events are attracting up to 100 boats.)

Looking to start a one-design sailing competition in Thailand, the Platu Coronation Cup came about. Established in 1996 with 24 entries, the date coincided with the anniversary of His Majesty the King of Thailand's Coronation date, 5 May 1950, and thus the Platu Coronation Cup was born.

Following the Asian Financial Crash of 1997, the Platus were moved to the Royal Thai Navy base at Sattahip and after being underused and poorly maintained, they were subsequently moved to Ocean Marina. Today Ocean Marina is home to 18 top-quality Platus, the largest fleet in Asia, and the one-design class is seeing a resurgence as international crews fly in and charter locally-based boats to compete in the one-design Platu Championship Series.

Over a nine race series at The Platu Coronation Cup, top three finishes were spread between six boats just showing the high calibre of entrants the cup attracts.

 

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The Ferret (Scott Duncanson) scored three wins on the third day of the series to bring them back into contention after a slow start. And after a DSQ for The Fox (Rolf Heemskerk) in the sixth race of the Platu series yesterday, The Ferret shot to the top of the leader board with a one point lead going into the final day.

The first race on the final day saw a tight startline as half the fleet bunched at the pin-end and the others spread out along the line. There were individual recalls for The Ferret and two other Platus, while The Fox got off to a good start at the pin-end. The Ferret returned to the start and then took off to the opposite side of the course (right side) in a gamble to make-up ground. The gamble paid off and The Ferret finished second behind The Fox with Nataya (SMU 1) in third.

So after four days and eight races, The Fox and The Ferret went into the last race of the nine-race series tied on points. All was to play for as The Fox hit traffic on the startline and struggled to make a clean start. The Ferret, however, went ahead and led the fleet around the course and to the first gate. The race course became a drag strip as The Fox chased The Ferret around until The Ferret finally crossed the line first, ahead of The Fox in second with Naiad (Wiwat Poonpat) coming third.

The Ferret (18 points) was crowned the 2010 Platu Coronation Cup champion, with The Fox (19 points) in second and Naiad (27 points) placing third. The prize-giving followed an elegant sit-down dinner on the lawn at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club.

Australians Take Top Honours at 2010 Top of the Gulf Regatta

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Good winds and ideal sailing conditions greeted the sailors for the final day of racing at the 2010 Top of the Gulf Regatta. Two races were held for IRC Racing 2, Sports Boats, Ocean Multihulls and Platus today, with one race for IRC Cruising. For IRC Racing 1 they had to re-sail the second race from Day 1, in addition to the scheduled two races of today – two windward-leewards followed by a longer race was PRO Jerry Rollin's game plan.

A late charge was needed by Ichi Ban, to try to knock Evolution Racing off his perch. Race 1 of the day saw a clear start by the fleet and line honours for Evolution Racing but the win on corrected time went to Ichi Ban. Katsu took third. The same course for Race 2 and this time the start line was unexpectedly leisurely with Evolution Racing taking the pin-end and Ichi Ban keeping their distance at the opposite end. Evolution Racing again led the fleet around the course and again fell to second place on corrected time behind Ichi Ban, with Robert van Paridon’s Tantrum, a Beneteau 44.7 (and sister ship to Ichi Ban)  in third. The late charged by Ichi Ban was underway.

Going into the final race, which was a re-sail from the first day, and over a longer course, tension was high and the fight was on. Would the distance favour the TP52 (Evolution Racing) or would it give more time to the Beneteau 44.7 (Ichi Ban) to creep back on corrected time?

A little over 1hour10min after the start, Evolution Racing took line honours and first on corrected time to seal the series. Less than two minutes behind on corrected time was Ichi Ban, followed by Katsu in third. The second place for Ichi Ban put an end to their late challenge and what was so nearly a big upset. Maybe a TP52 and a Beneteau 44.7 can race in the same class under IRC after all?

IRC Racing 1 series standings: Evolution Racing (8 points), Ichi Ban (9 points) and Tantrum (20 points), in third.

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The win for Australian Ray Roberts meant he would be crowned Asian Yachting Grand Prix champion with one more event to go (the Sawadee.com Samui Regatta).


In IRC Racing 2, Royal Thai Navy 1 (Damrong Sirisakorn) continued their winning ways with two more bullets on the final day, with Gary Baguley’s Holman & Pye, El Coyote taking two seconds and David Bell’s Jeanneau 35, Magic Roundabout placing third in Race 1 and Le Vent (Pote Suyasinto) taking third in Race 2. Royal Thai Navy 1 (6 points) were out-and-out series winners having won every race, with a strong late finish from El Coyote (15 points) taking second place overall from Brad Kirk’s Farr 43, Dynamite (19 points) finishing third.

A longer course was sailed for the IRC Cruising class on the final day. The conditions favoured Reef Knot (Tim McMahon) who took a win by a little under two minutes on corrected time from Tetsuo Ongino's Jenneau 36i’s Melissa. Souay 1 (Jean Rheault) continued their consistency with a third-place finish. Overall series results saw Melissa (10 points) take first from Reef Knot (13 points) who took second place on countback from Peter Herning’s Bavaria 43 Kirafiki (13 points) who finished third.

The Sports Boats class went true to form with two more wins in the final races for Kipsan Beck’s Shaw 6.5, Porn Star. Final series results had Porn Star (6 points) with a clean sweep over Ray Waldron’s Vino, a Phuket 8, (12 points) in second.

 

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The Ocean Multihulls saw Henry Kaye’s Seacart 30 Thor take two more bullets on the final day from Sonic (Kirati Assakul’s Crowther 42) who took two second places. Freee Wheeler (David Race) took third in Race 1 while Bob Garner’s C28R Blade Runner V took third in Race 2. Final series results saw Thor (11 points) take the crown ahead of Blade Runner V (19.5 points) with Sonic (20 points) in third.

The 2010 Top of the Gulf Regatta featured 246 boats, was deemed a resounding success by all 600+ participants. Headquartered at Ocean Marina Yacht Club and now in it's sixth year, the Top of the Gulf Regatta is the only multi-class regatta of its kind in Thailand.

Sponsors of the 2010 Top of the Gulf Regatta include: Major Sponsors Ocean Marina Yacht Club,
PTT Exploration and Production Public company Limited (PTTEP), The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Lexus. Other sponsors and supporters include Thai Airways, MaDuZi Hotel, OCEAN Portofino, Singha Corporation, Sun Cooler, Movenpick, Mont Clair, Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, Bank of Ayudhya, Coca Cola, Corsair Trimarans, Grampian Country Food Group, Gulf Charters Thailand, QBE Insurance, SEAT Boats, Ocean Glass, Royal Varuna Yacht Club, the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand and Pattaya City. 2010 Media Partners include Asia Pacific Boating, Ensign Media, SEA Yachting, Pattaya Today and Mix88.5Fm Pattaya.

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