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Top of the Gulf day 1 - thoroughly uncooperative weather

Top of the Gulf day 1 – thoroughly uncooperative weather

The Top of the Gulf Regatta out of Ocean Marina Yacht Club at Jomtien Beach, Pattaya, has established a good reputation for itself over the last ten years. Good quality fleets, a very attractive location, hard and fast racing on flat water, and quietly efficient race management.

That’s what it takes – that’s all it takes!

The big boats entry list for 2015 stands at 32, including the ultra-competitive Platu fleet of 13 contesting the Coronation Cup. No quarter given, or asked, there. TOG prides itself on being an all-inclusive event, so add on 31 dinghies and 80 Optimists chasing the Thai National Optimist title, and you have a pretty sizeable event run on three racecourses simultaneously.

Sunshine at the start of the day, and RO Denis Thompson started the sequence for the big boats a gentle if slightly wobbly breeze and plenty of sunshine. But the swings quickly multiplied, and the sequence was broken and restarted as the wind went ape left – and then came back again. By the time the Platus, last to start, were coming back on the ‘run,’ they were actually two-sail reaching, and the whole course management team were kept more than busy laying alternate top marks and realigning leeward gates. Thompson said later, “There were al awful lot of things that could have gone wrong, and it would only have taken one glitch to start a chain reaction. It was like navigating through the middle of a Swiss cheese and hoping like hell the holes weren’t going to line up.” They didn’t.
Top of the Gulf day 1 - thoroughly uncooperative weather
By time the first race for all classes ended the breeze had almost died away completely. There were thunder cells along the coast to the south and east of the race course that could be fairly blamed for the shifts in breeze, and these are very much a feature of TOG. It takes a quick-witted RO to keep the lid on things, and some fast thinking tacticians to call the direction and gear changes.

Then there was a pause: a long pause. The RO had his eyes wide open looking for an opportunity, but we confess that some of the eyes were fast shut on the media boat…. But the ears were open, and the radios were on the right channel when it all started again, two hours later. Top of the Gulf day 1 - thoroughly uncooperative weather

No chance of sending everyone off on a trip to the islands – in the available breeze and given the course lengths that could have meant a keel hauling for the RO – so very sensibly a second windward/leeward was called, and completed. And just to show that things were properly under control, there was a third race for the Platu Coronation Cup fleet.

EFG Mandrake (Fred Kinmonth), Foxy Lady (Bill Bremner, caretaking by Steve McConaghy) and Wan Ma Rang (Kevin Whitcraft) shared the IRC 1 podium places for both races with EFG Mandrake the day winner with 1,2 places.

Nip and tuck racing in the Platu fleet produced three winners from three races, with Wiwat Poonpat’s Royal Thai Navy running out winners for the day with two second places, followed by Scott Duncanson (Kingdom Properties) and Chris Way (Easy Tiger IV).

On account of unkind weather, it was hardly an electric start to proceedings today, but Jomtien Beach can be relied on to unreliable if nothing else, and that means tomorrow could easily be hot stuff in all departments. We’ll sleep on it, and report back at the end of racing tomorrow.

Full results at topofthegulfregatta.com

Top of the Gulf Regatta 2015

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World.com

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