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More than 300 craft to grace Gulf Regatta 2011

April 17, 2011

William J. Gasson, founder in 2004 and organiser of the Top of the Gulf Regatta (TOGR) since its inception, is most positive about the development of this marine spectacular, to be held out off the Ocean Marina Yacht Club and related facilities in Jomtien, from April 30 to May 3.

Gasson estimates that upwards of some 300 craft, ranging from the tiny Optimist to beach catamarans, ocean multihulls, the sleek, racing keel-boats and a variety of monohulls, will compete off the Ocean Marina in the user-friendly waters of South Pattaya-Jomtien.

The TOGR is unique, being the only marina-based regatta in Thailand which welcomes boats of all sizes and participants from Australia, China, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Russia and Singapore, amongst many other countries who will match wits and skills with a huge fleet of Thai sailors.

One of the factors attracting a bigger keel-boat fleet, is that the Ocean Marina is currently dredging the berthing areas, to be able to accommodate big boats, with a safe, accessible mooring.

The TOGR includes the largest Optimist fleet in Thailand, attracting over 130 junior sailors from around the region each year, to compete for the Thailand Optimist National Championship, incorporated into the Regatta. These include young boys and girls sailing at various clubs around the Kingdom, including Phuket, Koh Samui, Sattahip, the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and the Ocean Marina Yacht Club fleets

And, now, there is a vacancy at the top.

Thai teenager Noppakao Poonpat has dominated the Optimists, winning everything including the World Championships in Langkawi last year and in Rio the year before. Now, this lovely young lady has to forsake the little snub-nosed dinghy on reaching the mandatory old retirement age of 16.

No doubt, her smiling features will appear over the transom of a bigger craft this year, leaving the top Optimist honours to one of her compatriots.

For the larger boats, racing will be divided into 12 classes covering keelboats, a large cruising fleet, one-design Platus, Ocean Multihulls and monohulls of every stripe.

The TOG Regatta continues to attract a strong domestic fleet and more international racing yachts each year, in addition to strong dinghy and Hobie classes, and the ultra-competitive one-design Platu class.

Thailand is home to the largest Platu fleet in Asia and each year the Platu fleet competes for the prestigious Coronation Cup during the TOG Regatta.

“The 2010 TOG Regatta was a great success,” said Gasson recently, “when we welcomed big fleets of all kinds of boats to the Gulf of Thailand. We are looking forward to another great year.”

The idea for this most successful event emanated from Gasson’s involvement with the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta (now in its 25th year). As a founding patron and first principal Race Officer, way back in 1987 (and four-time winner of this regatta), he foresaw the possibility of a great event in the Northern Gulf’s better sailing waters, more reliable winds and a larger spectator pool, from the Eastern Seaboard.

Gasson has been vindicated many times. One great advantage for the spectators is that the total TOGR is visible from a vantage point at the Ocean Marina.

One of the great challenges for this year’s TOGR, will be the continuing battle between the region’s top sailors, Hong Kong-based New Zealander Neil Pryde and current reigning Asian champion sailor, Aussie Ray Roberts: the title is awarded by Asian Yachting to the skipper who accumulates the most aggregate points in a year-long Asian-wide campaign covering 10 regattas.

There are many sponsors who regard the TOGR, not only as a great boon to yacht racing in the Kingdom, but as a superb contribution to the Pattaya-Jomtien idyll as a world-class marine leisure locale, an image avidly pursued by the Pattaya City Fathers in the Mayors office.

Further information: Website: www.topofthegulfregatta.com

Article first published in The Bangkok Post

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