Best of the best at 2012 TOTGR

Posted on May 4, 2012

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Over eight years the entry list and competing classes at the Top of the Gulf Regatta has continued to grow impressively and the fleet line-up, off Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Jomtien, is set to be one of the most competitive yet.

More than 600 participants in 300+ sailing craft, from 30 countries will compete in 12 classes, on four racing areas over four days of racing at Asia’s largest multi-class regatta. Organisers from any major regatta should take a look at how carefully allocated resources, imagination and hard work, the TOTGR has really come into its own.

Everywhere you look there is a hive of activity taking place. Truckloads of Optimist dinghy’s being offloaded, travel-lift continually trundling from boat park to launching ramp, sail and boat measurement on the lawn and swimming pool area, boat entry registration, handing out sponsor kit bags, skippers briefing, media press conference, crews being weighed, boats out practicing, new launching parties on the docks and setting up tables, stage, food and beverage outlets for tonight’s grand opening party. Bring it on!

The pedigree of sailors is exceptional, with winners from all major Asian Regattas in the last 12 months taking part, as well as Olympic hopefuls, national and regional champions competing in the Optimist, Windsurfing, Laser and beach catamaran classes. New for this year is the Neil Pryde Racing Series, with up to 30 one-design ISAF RS:One windsurfe Also up for grabs are the National Optimist titles and the long running One Design Platu 25 Coronation Cup. A record fleet has entered in the highly competitive IRC keelboat and multihull classes.

In the absence of big yachts, Neil Pryde’s regatta winning Welbourn 52 Hi Fi and current AYGP Championship leader, will have to contend with Asia’s rapidly expanding and fully optimised 40-foot class. Fresh from the Phuket King’s Cup victory, Yasuo Nanamori’s Summit 40 Karasu, is expecting to repeat the dose but will have to overcome other regatta newcomers in the form of David Ross’ Kerr 40 KukuKERchu, Steve Manning’s Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2, Timothy Long’s newly launched Soto 30 with the Red Sailing Team, Bill Bremner’s newly acquired Mills King 40 Foxy Lady 6 and Simon Powell’s Archamault 40 R Sell Side Dream before taking the trophy to Japan. Regulars on the Asian scene Kevin Whitcraft’s GP42 Won Ma Rang, Ben Copley’s Swan 42 Katsu, Rick Pointon’s J130 JingJing, Dimitry Gornyy’s Sayer 13 Siren and Robert van Paridon’s Beneteau 44.7 Tantrum all have their sights set on ruining the favourites party.

After dividing the entries based on IRC ratings, two evenly matched classes 2 and 3 has mainly local based Thai boats that enjoy fighting it out on the water. Gary Baguley’s H&P 52 El Coyote tops the list in Class 2 but will have his hands full keeping David Bell’s Jenneau 35 Magic, Jean Rheault’s J41 Souay I, Brad Kirk Farr 12.8m Dynamite, K. Surapol Tippawongse’s X99 Hi Jinks, Lennart Fahlgren’s Tasker 32 Amanda and the two Royal Thai Navy’s victorious Farr MRX 36 Navy 1 & 2 at arms length.

Last year Andrew Watt’s Jenneau 36i San Sanook and Eric Habers’ Bavaria 39 Reef Knot claimed the silver and bronze medals and expect to go one better this year. Peter Herning’s bigger Bavaria 42 Kirafiki is ready to mix it up with the Japanese pairing of Tetsuo Ogino’s Oceanis 320 Olmi and Sadunori Osada’s Beneteau 21.7 Tai Two if the conditions suite.

Over the years, it has proved difficult to have a consistent Sports Boat turnout at regattas in Thailand, but this finally appears to be changing with two new Shaw 650’s being built and launched locally. That makes it six entries all very different in design concept and performance ranging from Scott Duncanson’s Phuket 8 Qantum. Paul Murphy’s Welbourn 25 with the horizontal waterline foil Brace Brace Brace, Mikael Pophillat’s T650 CU Later and the three Shaw 650’s shared between Miki and Kipson Beck.

An interesting array of skippers guiding 15 racing teams are competing in the hotly contested one-design Platu class for the prestigious Coronation Cup. Three teams representing youth are from the Singapore Management University (SMU) while Aussie legend Frazer Johnston, Singapore’s Simon Piff and Jun Avecilla’s Philippine team are going to do battle with knowledge and wisdom. Another Aussie team lead by Chris Way are experimenting with a 2:00am curfew and Pattaya is certainly the place to test their stamina. Past winners making a return visit are Rolf Heemskerk up from Malaysia and Thai favourite Wiwat Poonpat are not here to make up the numbers and expect to be in the thick of things.

A huge variety of Ocean multihull’s are set to go head to head. Henry Kaye’s Sea Cart 26 Sweet Chariot will be campaigned by John Higham and a works team from the builder CMI. Certainly one to watch as with recut sails and a crew weight reduction program they have overcome their travails in light air and now can carry a Code 0 up to 14kts. Andrew Stansky’s all conquering 15m cat Fantasia will be looking to add another trophy to their collection on her first season in SE Asia. Khun Radab’s F9A Cedar Swan and Khun Nim’s Crowther 42 Sonic have both won here before and expect to repeat the dose. A selection of locally built Corsair trimaran’s, Thierry Cercleron’s C28R Bladerunner, David Race Corsair 28 Free Wheeler, Paul Koch Sprint 750 No Limit and Bob Garner Dash 750 Dash are very evenly matched and boat handling in the forecasted high teens will make all the difference.

The largest fleet of boats is 100 plus Optimists racing for the 36th Thailand Optimist National title. 2011 winner, Chaninat Poolsirikot, will return to defend her title oozing with confidence from her recent win at the Asian Sailing Championships. Organised together with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT), teams have traveled far and wide to take part including Thai teams from Royal Varuna Yacht Club, Samui and Phuket together with neighbouring Malaysian teams from Terengganu and Sabah, Past winners have gone on to become Asian and World Champions making this the pre-eminent Optimist event in the Kingdom.

The Windsurfing Association of Thailand are sending members of the Thai national team to take part in the Neil Pryde Racing Series, including Napalai Tansai and gold-medal winner at 16th SEA Games in Indonesia (2011), Ek Boonsawad, both of which will be representing Thailand at the London 2012 Olympics. Also competing are Siriporn Kaewduang-Ngam, Navin Singsrart, Natthapong Po-nopparat and Sarocha Prumprai, all from the national team, who after the TOG Regatta will go on to compete in the 2012 Asian Beach Games in Haiyang, China, in June.

The 2012 Top of the Gulf Regatta is supported by the Principal Sponsor Ocean Marina Yacht Club as host venue. Co-Sponsors include Tourism Authority of Thailand, Land Rover and Range Rover, Singha Corporation Group, and Mont Clair Wines. Other sponsors include Thai Airways, Gulf Charters, Mont Gay Rum, Bank of Ayudhya Plc., Neil Pryde, Minor Group (The Pizza Company and Dairy Queen), Corsair Marine Thailand Co. Ltd., QBE Insurance (Thailand) Co. Ltd., SKPF, Thai Numthip Co. Ltd. (Coca Cola), CAT Telecom PCL, Bangkok Pattaya Hospital, Golden Foods Siam Ltd., Lucaris, Suniture, Sunbrella, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Buzzcats and Simpson Marine. Media Partners include Helm Superyacht magazine, SEA Yachting magazine, Go Yachting, Mix 88.5FM, Pattaya Mail, Guy Nowell Photography, and AsianYachting.com. The event is supported by the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT), Royal Varuna Yacht Club and Pattaya City.

More info on TOTGR website: www.topofthegulfregatta.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/togregatta
Twitter: www.twitter.com/togregatta
YouTube: www.youtube.com/TOGRegatta

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Posted in: Pattaya