top of thai

top of thai

As Thailand’s largest overall and 2nd largest keelboat regatta (behind the Kings Cup) , the Top Of the Gulf Regatta features great SW monsoon sailing weather under sunny skies. About 1.5 hours south of Bangkok located at the OMYC Marina, 51 keelers and almost 200 dinghies showed up despite the uncertain politics and Icelandic volcanos for the 4 day regatta held over last weekend.

A few pre race predictions were true to form (Platus will be competitive, MRX is unbeatable under IRC, wind will be 2 great days/2 weird days, anarchists are winners 😉 but there weren’t too many easy wins out there for the Seacart or the TP52.

The signature event is the OD Platu Coronation Cup, given by HM The King of Thailand, himself a former OK dinghy champion and celebrating his accession to the throne on May 5. The Platu was created for Thailand, and actually means small fish in Thai. Top contenders were Ferret, skippered by Anarchist Gingerbread, Fox (Rolf Heemskirk) and Naiad (former Thai national team).

Day 1 was very light, with the breeze clocking around a fair bit plus a fair bit of chop. All classes did a W-L in the morning, then a medium distance in the afternoon – due to language confusion (between Euros, no Thais involved) Racing division’s race was abandoned as they rounded a ‘virtual mark’ in the middle of nowhere.

Normally, local conditions see the wind fill in onshore, then swing left during the day as it fills in. The morning of Day 2 saw a very unstable breeze swinging so far right turning the windward leeward into reaches for the first race, and massively paying off for the Fox who were the right most boat going up – if there was a casino in Pattaya……. The afternoon’s race got even more odd, with a 180 degree swing not long after the start of IRC2/sporties, turning upwind into downwind with a solid 15-20 knots rainsquall – in a first (for a while) platus were started downwind.

Against all of this, in the platus Fox ended up after 4 races on 6; Ferret on 20 after taking the left on the start of Day 2, Naiad 22 and another team Magic Dragon (Cris Way) slotting in with 17.

For the racing division, the regatta is a new edition to the Asian racing circuit, so attendance numbers are still building. On the first couple of days, the expected Evolution walk-over (featuring SA’s own JRTC onboard plus others) was pushed by Matt Allen’s Ichiban Beneteau 44.7 with the two basically spending the whole regatta swapping 1 and 2s. Ichiban is well optimised, and the crew sail/win together in Aussie and the Asian circuit which shows in their boat handling and team work. Rounding out the division was another Bene, GP42 and a couple of Swans.

Day 2’s second race certainly helped Ray Roberts a bit as Evolution rocked the finish in the stronger breeze, leaving the smaller boats limping through the last leg in under 5 knots. AA is the new/old GP42 from Croatia, and in their 2nd Asia regatta they showed some quick speed on Day 2, getting a 3rd place, the boat and crew needs a bit more work probably to be up there with the leading racing boats.

In the multis, there is currently 1 Seacart 30 in Asia, Thor, with another 2 scheduled to arrive in September. The Seacart finished the first couple of days a little off the pace; winning every race on line, but not be enough, opening the way for a code zero sporting C28 Bladerunner and a 15 year old cedar core Farrier 31 Cedar Swan.

Day 3 saw the platus completing 3 windward leewards in what was now a steady 12-15 knot SW breeze, while all other classes went out on a long 30NM island jaunt mostly upwind or cracked sheets, with a final long slide downwind to the finish.

Evolution Racing and Thor both won their divisions, while both Pornstar (Shaw 650) and Lee Vino (Phuket 8) reveled in the downwind planing conditions, beating some of the multis, all the smaller keelers and a couple of the IRC racing guys in elapsed time.

Over on the platu course, Ferret/Gingerbread had 3 bullets, taking him well back into contention as the steady winds rewarded the usual suspects, while the Fox got tangled up in a port starboard incident (currently debated in the SA Forum) earning a DSQ. Ferret ahead by 1 going into the last day, with 2 races to go!

Day 4, more of the same weather, and with an OCS, things were looking bad early for Ferret. After returning to the line, good boat handling and getting in phase managed to get them back to mid fleet and from there they ground their way out boat by boat, finally just squeezing past one of the SMU team to get 2nd, Rolf in first. With the last race all to play for, Ferret lead from start to finish, winning them the Coronation Cup for a second time.

In the big boats, Evolution played bridesmaid to Ichiban twice over in the windward leewards. With points locked, race 2, the one with the mark issue, was resailed mid afternoon. This time, Ray Roberts was able to enjoy the long reaching legs and the Evolution Sails (formerly Island Fling) stretched out a 2 min corrected time win, earning him the win in the division.

The Seacart knocked out another 2 wins to win the division. The two sporties had a great last day, enjoying the fresh breezes, and were the keelboats willing to let them play in IRC 2, would have ended up 2nd and 3rd behind the MRX a boat which seems almost unbeatable; as it was Pornstar edged Vino using the SMS system for the first time. With 2 sportboats sold out of the marina recently, and 4 dayboats sitting there unused, it seems a shame that more don’t show up – hopefully the HK championship in November and a few more Shaws and Phuket 8s already under construction will help build the fleet.

In the dinghies, Thailand’s Noppakao Poonpat came 4th in the Optimist Worlds overall, and is the top girl. Once again 4 years in a row she won the TOG Opti class overall and for the girls in her last year before she moves onto something bigger (hopefully my boat).

One of the best things about racing in Asia are the parties. Every night there is a ton of free booze, good DJs, fireworks, more free rum, cheap hotels and getting here sans volcano is easy and cheap. For TOG having a marina helps the smaller boats by getting rid of the truly foul 1 hour+ trip to the start line as per Kings Cup while a good sized local fleet makes this one of the bigger Asian regattas for keelboats with a likelihood to continue growing thanks to the value and reliable winds.

Captain Marty does the best job of anyone when it comes to covering the small world of Asian regattas – check here for a detailed report of the TOG event.

Report from Anarchist Steve Romagnino. Duncan Worthington photo of the Platus.