The Top of the Gulf Regatta Presented by Ocean Marina lived up to its reputation for delivering close and competitive racing this year. The weather made the racing even tougher. Over the four days sailors experienced everything from moments of becalm to 25 knot squalls, thunder and lightning, and blue skies indicative of sailing in the tropics.

And as the competitors gathered for event-concluding gala dinner, it was smiles all around.

THA72 finished with two wins. Other than a second in Race 4 , former Optimist World Champion Noppakao Poonpat has driven the TP52 expertly, winning five of the six races – not bad for her first time helming a boat of this size and calibre. Thailand sailing looks to be in good hands!

Don’t let the results sheet fool you, however, as the racing between fellow-TP52 Ark 323 crewed by an all-Chinese team lead by Li Hongquan, had been close. The short windward/leewards were testing and throughout the Chinese were ready to pounce on the smallest of mistakes, it’s just that THA72 made very few, and thus the Kevin Whitcraft/ Tom Whitcraft owned THA72, helmed by Noppakao Poonpat, were IRC 1 champions.

In IRC 2 David Dimmock and crew on the Club Swan 42 Loco (USA) made the early running and, despite a third in Race 4, they won the class with a race to spare ahead of Gary Baguley’s El Coyote (Aus) in second. A first in the final race for Barry Waugh’s Fujin (Aus) wasn’t enough to outscore Jean Rheault’s Souay1 (Can) whose results in the second half of the series saw them slide into third overall.

The Cruising Class boats have had a little more action than expected this week, with a number of windward/leewards replacing their “traditional” long distance series of races, and the sailors seemed happy with the change. A single race on the final day brought their series tally to five and with the drop in play it was the all-Japanese crew on Team Spray that took the win by a single point from Pote Suyasinto’s all-Thai team on Le Vent. Two points further back was Tim McMahon’s Sail Quest Hi Jinks.

 

The one-design Platus mix with the IRC 2 fleet. Top of the Gulf Regatta 2018. Photo by Guy Nowell

 

The one-design Platu class saw some exceptionally close racing  and no boat dominated. A few slips along the way in the ever-changing weather conditions saw seven out of the 11-strong fleet on the podium at least once during the regatta, and, despite a sixth place in the final race, Rolf Heemskerk’s Team Viewpoint (Mas) were crowned 2018 Coronation Cup winners, defending their title in the process.

Ithinai Yingsiri’s Thai team on Pine-Pacific were in the running throughout but a couple of sixth place finishes when they didn’t read the wind shifts correctly, and a seventh in the final race hurt their scorecard and they had to settle for second overall ahead of Chris Way’s Easy Tiger III (Aus).

A fast mover in the second half of the regatta was the Royal Thai Navy team lead by Wiwat Poonpat, who surged up the standings to finish fourth Platu overall, one point off the third place finisher and one point ahead of Thai compatriot Totsapon Mahanich on Pim.

Wins in the final two races of the series saw Kirati Assakul and his crew on the Crowther 42, Sonic, defend their Ocean Multihulls title from newcomer Dominique Demachy who sailed his KL 28 Edenko well but could only correct out ahead of Sonic twice over the six race series.

Dinghy Classes (9a, 9b, 10)
It’s never a foregone conclusion in sailing, but then there’s only one Keerati Bualong. Thailand’s top Laser sailor and two-time Olympian has won Class 9a for more years than anyone cares to remember and this year produced a masterful showing. Not always leading from start to finish, having to come from behind at times and mastering the mixed bag of conditions, he finished with a clean sheet – six wins from six. Impressive.

Second and third was a much closer affair with Chusitt Punjamala putting together a string of second places in the last two days to place second overall, three points ahead of Jarunpong Meeyusamsen.

In Class 9b (Laser 4.7s), Saranrong Poonpat and Sophia Gail Montgomery traded places throughout the series but it was Saranrong who performed better on the final day and secured the win by a single point. Paliga Poonpat held on to third from a late charging Chanokchon Wangsuk.

The Double-Handed Monohull Dinghy Class (Class 10) saw a mix of 420s, 470s, 49ers and 49er FXs competing on handicap. Having lead from Race 1, Navee Thamsoontorn/ Nut Butmarasri (470) held on to take the title despite two third places on the final day. Suthida Poonpat/ Narisa Satta (470) had an excellent last day with a 2,1 scoreline tying them on points with Suthon Yampinid/ Kittipoon Kumjorn (420). However, Suthon Yampinid/ Kittipoon Kumjorn were awarded second place on count-back.

Thailand Optimist National Championships
Two races were completed for both Optimist fleets on the final day bringing each series tally to five. A tough final day for Hong Kong hopeful Duncan Gregor in the Gold Fleet saw him finish fifth overall (after holding second earlier in the series) and the top international youngster. Having had a slow start, M L Weka Bhanubandh put in some solid performances to work his way up the standings to finish second overall and top sailor Under 12, with Patihan Vorrasart in third.

The glory and title, however, goes to the most consistent sailor on the course over the three days, whose 4,1,1,1 scoreline ensured he defended his title, Panwa Boonak – the 2018 Thailand Optimist National Champion.

Yoth Srimanchanda comfortably won in the Silver Fleet with Attasuk Boontawee’s two bullets on the final day enough for him to sneak into second ahead of Krithphet Suwannarai.

 

Keerati Bualong on his way to defending his title in Class 9a. Top of the Gulf Regatta 2018. Photo by Guy Nowell.

All sailors, young and old, beginner and professional, came together for the Ocean Marina gala dinner where prizes were presented by Ittipol Khunpluem, vice-minister for Tourism and Sports Thailand, and Admiral Thanee Phudpad, vice-president of the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand.

 

Panwa Boonak – the 2018 Thailand Optimist National Champion. Photo by Guy Nowell.