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Top of the Gulf Regatta 2019 – day 4

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 4 May 2019 18:00 BST 1-5 May 2019
Top of the Gulf Regatta 2019. Team Hollywood's smart gybe-set. © Guy Nowell / Top of the Gulf Regatta

Sorry to say that yesterday’s Normal Service was less than a flash in the pan. Today was something for the competitors to forget, and an RO should only ever come across in his (or her) worst nightmares. It started innocuously enough, with sunshine and light breeze – but not enough. “Not too flash out here,” said Capt Marty. 20 mins before scheduled start and there was just 4.5kts on offer, anywhere and everywhere from 270 to 210 degrees. One wag on the Media boat claimed that he’d seen “more wind after a baked bean breakfast.”

Then a few puffs joined themselves together, and the RO got a sequence under way at 1100h, only to raise the AP while the P flag was still flying. The fleet wallowed around until 1220h when the two IRC 1 boats, Ray Roberts’ Team Hollywood and Kevin Whitcraft’s THA72 announced they were going off for a second breakfast. AT 1240h we got an AP over A and everyone else followed suit.

Meanwhile, and just a mile closer to the shore, the Optimist fleet contesting the Thailand Optimist National Championships managed two desperately slow races, and the dinghy classes and the parasailing S\V14s completed three on a very short course. The Media boat even went and watched sone R/C racing outside the Ocean Marina breakwater, but it’s just not the same as big boats with people on board. We ate our lunch. We dropped some spectators off at the OMYC pontoon, and then, with dark and noisy storm clouds (read: thunder and lightning) rearing up over Na Jomtien, we went looking for action all over again.

The AP on shore had come down at 1320h, and the boats were back out on the water, but of course the westerly breeze now turned into an easterly coming out from under the storm cell, and the wind went from 280 to 115 in a heartbeat. “You are now racing to the change mark at 115, range 1nm” said the RO.

Off went the two TP52s, with Team Hollywood coming in too hot on the line and having to duck behind THA72 and then tack back onto port, and then trail the Thai boat all the way up the beat. A very neatly executed gybe-set took them back to the left side of the course, and by the leeward mark they were out of trouble and sailed home for another win. Elapsed time: just 52 mins. Both boats were OCS for the second race (so should that be two individual recalls or one general?) After a restart, the race was shortened to just one lap of the course, elapsed time 35 min, and Team Hollywood left the racing area with twop more bullets.

It was the same programme for IRC 2 and IRC 3, squeezing in one two-lap race and one shortened to one lap as the breeze finally gave up for the day, took the ball, and went home. There’s never anthing left over after those thunder cells dissipate, and today was no exception.

First race for the Platu class involved an OCS for 027 Easy Tiger which turned out to have been a miscall from the Committee Boat: Chris Way and the Tigers were ‘redressed’ for the 3 mins it took to return and restart – and scored another win as a result. The Multihull division took just the one islands race, with Khun Nim’s Sonic falling into a hole near Koh Klet Kaeo that cost them dear, losing their race by just 2 min on corrected time after a 2½ slog.

Light breeze. No breeze. AP over A. Rainstorm. Wind, reversed. Dying wind. What a lousy sequence to have to deal with. It’s very much like the Curate’s egg – very good in parts – but today the parts just didn’t join up. It wasn’t really a two-race day… it was a 1½ race day, with the first one completed after a 1400h start, which meant (by the end of proceedings) that all the race management people who make races possible had been on duty for about seven hours. Next time you feel inclined to grumble about hanging around for ever, spare a thought for the mark layers and race management on the water who start earlier than you do and are the last ones to pull up sticks and go home. They don’t control the weather, but they do try to make the best of a bad job on a day like today, and sometimes it is more than just difficult – it’s bloody impossible.

Tomorrow is another day. It’s not looking too clever on the forecast, but we’ll go out and take a look anyway.

Full results at www.topofthegulfregatta.com

Standing by on 72.

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