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Top of the Gulf Regatta 2019 – day 3

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 4 May 2019 03:08 BST 1-5 May 2019
Top of the Gulf Regatta 2019. S\V14. © Guy Nowell / Top of the Gulf Regatta

A day full of animals, but different ones depending on which part of the world you come from. The Aussies say there are ‘sheep in the paddock’, and the Brits talk about ‘white horses’. White caps if you like – and a very welcome sight after the last two days of light to dismal breeze. From somewhere south of west, and beginning with 10 kts at start time (11.00h) the breeze built during the day and topped out at 16 kts.

This was a welcome break for everyone: the RO was able to get the regatta back on track after yesterday’s abbreviated programme, the ever-hungry media pack had something to look at, and the sailors were of course delighted to be sailing instead of just poodling around. The sun shone and the rain stayed away, so all-in-all it was a very happy day all round.

Before the regatta started, the Multihull division signalled a desire to sail the longer coastal courses in preference to windward/leeward races. If you are commanding a Crowther 43 this makes very good sense - Sonic. It also explains itself if you are a regatta virgin and know nothing of flags, marks, courses, or English – Edenko. The Multihull programme for today was a 10nm cruise to Monkey Island, then north to Koh Rang Kwian, and home. In proper breeze this didn’t take long, and allowed time for a quick windward/leeward race to fill up the rest of the afternoon. Bladerunner XI, Sonic and Edenko finished both races in that order (corrected times).

The two TP52/IRC1 combatants had a similar pre-regatta request: two races a day is quite sufficient, thank you. In the first windward/leeward race Kevin Whitcraft’s THA72 got the jump on Team Hollywood (Ray Roberts) and led all the way round the first lap of the course. They set up to go right at the leeward gate, but the drop went wrong – Team Hollywood didn’t need any excuse to go left, make up the difference on the water (and some to spare), take the lead and hold on to it. Then they did it all over again, except this time the Hollywood movie stars led from wire to wire, giving themselves five wins from five races and a nice tidy scoresheet.

Fujin (Beneteau 44.7) has campaigned all over Asia under different skippers, starting with Matt Allen. Now the command is with Peter Hewson, and two bullets today puts them just one point ahead of Tenacious – an Adams 10 also previously owned and skippered by Matt Allen. Some kind of symmetry there. Thus far the two division leaders have shared all the first and second places, and Lewana (Pana Trugkabuncha) and Ink Zone (Steve Laker) have had to be content with the leftovers. In IRC3, Moon2hadow recorded 2, 1 results today to stay just a point ahead of Team Spray 1, 2.

The Platu division, sometimes called the Coronation Cup, has consistently provided the best and closest racing at Top of the Gulf over the years, and today was no exception. Three windward/leeward races takes the total to eight in the three days so far, and Chris Way is clearly looking to avenge a narrow loss last year. Easy Tiger came off the blocks with claws out on Wednesday, and hasn’t looked back. There was a bit of a hiccough today with a Easy Tiger finishing 5th in the second race of the day, but they have money in the bank (14 pts) at the front of the fleet. Nearest competitor and defending champion, Team Viewpoint (Rolf Heerskerk) scooped up the bullet in today’s second, but still trail by 10 points after eight races. The usual ‘fix’ on these occasions is some late late partying in Pattaya, and carry the hangover the next day, but Viewpoint are ‘constrained in their abilty to manoeuvre’, and will have to get the points back the hard way. Some years a truly epic final day saw a 22-point lead to Team Viewpoint whittled down to nothing by Scott Duncanson’s Raimon Land crew who took the title on a countback. Miracles do happen.

Also racing today, the small boat fleets that help make Top of the Gulf one of the biggest and most inclusive regattas in the region. 80 boats on the Thai National Optimist Championship – and defending champion Panwa Boonak is in the lead. The newly launched S\V14 parasailing fleet is out there – and leaders Paisol Pateh/Mahseedi Hadumor (THA) are firmly in command after six races over two days. Add in Lasers, Laser Radials, Laser 4.7, Finn, 420, 470, windsurfers – there are another 140 boats out there, some of them double handed, that make up the rest of this huge festival of sail. Indeed, going by the numbers, this has long been a small boat regatta with some big boats tacked on, rather than the other way round.

Socials today, Friday, were to have been a bbq on Monkey Island and a sunset cruise home, but the thoroughly whimsical Royal Thai Navy (who own the island) decided otherwise. Instead, a sausage sizzle accompanied by pasties and sausage rolls filled the gap more than adequately. [Sorry, that’s not praise enough – they were best pork sausages (sage and thyme) we have tasted in a long while, and the pasties and rolls were absolutely second to none]. The media crew were invited for a buffet after the prizegiving, but attendance was thin.

For the first time since its inception in 2005, the Top of the Gulf is a 5-day regatta. Three days down and two go means there is still much to play for. PredictWind is offereing good southerly breeze for tomorrow. See you in the breakfast room.

Standing by on 72.

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