2012 Top of the Gulf Regatta looks to re-set the record books
The annual Top of the Gulf Regatta takes place for the eighth time this year off Ocean Marina Yacht Club, Jomtien Beach, 4th to 8th May. Unique in its diversity – attracting large keelboats and multihulls, dinghies, beach catamarans and youngsters sailing the Optimists – the Regatta has grown to become the largest by boat number in Asia. 2012 expects to welcome 600+ sailors in more than 300 craft to the waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
In the keelboat and multihull classes, entries are looking good with up to 60 boats expected – a record fleet. A strong IRC 1 Class is led by current Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship leader, HiFi, who will have their work cut out against a highly competitive 40-foot fleet, as well as the new Soto 30 which will have its worldwide launch at the Regatta.
The waters of the Gulf of Thailand will come alive with colour this weekend as over 300 craft are expected to take part in the 2012 Top of the Gulf Regatta.
IRC 2, IRC 3 and IRC 4 Cruising Class is made up of 15 boats in total with a strong showing from local Pattaya and Thailand-based boats, while the Multihull Class looks to be one of the biggest in recent years with 10 entries and the Sportboat Class six entries (largest in recent years).
In the one-design Platu Class, which will be racing for the Coronation Cup, a fleet of up to 15 is expected, with many boats chartered by international crews including a hot-shot crew from Australia – Team Tiger – which includes Tom Spithill, the younger brother of America’s Cup winning skipper James Spithill.
The Thailand Optimist National Championship looks likely to be the biggest yet with 100+ entries signed up from the Yacht Racing Association Thailand, plus more from around Thailand, ASEAN and beyond. 120-130 are expected in total.
Over 20 Lasers are expected to take part from the Royal Thai Navy, and together with a large fleet from the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, plus 420’s, Hobies and more, will likely mean 60 or more boats on the monohull dinghy and beach catamaran course.
New to this year’s TOG (and a first for Thailand) is the NeilPryde Racing Series – a one-design windsurfing class world tour that will race over the first two days of the Regatta, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May, and provide a spectacular display of close-quarter racing at Ocean Marina Yacht Club.
Designed by Olympic windsurf equipment supplier Neil Pryde, the NeilPryde Racing Series uses the new, universal one-design ISAF windsurfing class, the RS:One.
Top Asian athletes will compete on the RS:One along with local windsurfing heroes and London Olympic Games representatives from Thailand. The winners of each division will share the US$3000 prize money. Up to 30 windsurfers are expected.
Top of the Gulf Regatta training ground for Olympic stars
Since its inception eight years ago, the Top of the Gulf Regatta has endeavoured to provide an opportunity for Thai and regional sailors to compete against international sailors of the highest calibre. To this end, each year the Regatta welcomes national, Asian, World Champions and Olympians to take part in a varied fleet of dinghies, multihulls and keelboats.
“Our aim since the beginning has been to organise an international-standard yacht race in the Gulf of Thailand, in-line with ISAF (International Sailing Federation) rules, and with international race management,” explained William J Gasson, Chairman of the TOG Regatta Organising Committee.
“For Thai juniors, we incorporated the Thailand Optimist Championships as part of the Regatta and now provide an opportunity for Thai youngsters to compete alongside international sailors and develop their skills,” added Gasson.
Success of the TOG Regatta’s approach can be seen in the number of Thai sailors sharpening their skills at the Regatta and going on to great sailing achievements.
After a 12 year hiatus, Thai sailors are set to represent their country again at the Olympics. Current Asian Champion, Keerati Bualong has taken part in many TOG Regatta’s and following success in the May Olympic Qualifying event in Germany, will represent Thailand in the Laser Standard in the London 2012 Olympics. He will be joined by fellow TOG Regatta regular Kamonwan Chanyim, who will compete in the Laser Radial.
Other TOG Regatta successes include Noppakao Poonpat, Chaninart Poolsirikot and the Vongtim brothers, Damrongsak and Kitsada.