Whitcraft, Duncanson dominate at 2016 TOG Regatta

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Former Commodore of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and President of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, Kevin Whitcraft, easily won the premier class (IRC 1) at the recently completed 2016 Top of the Gulf Regatta in Pattaya.  Meanwhile Aussie Scott Duncanson racked up his third successive Coronation Cup victory in the highly-competitive Platu Class.

The twelfth sailing of the Top of the Gulf Regatta from April 30 – May 4 featured five days of excellent winds, great competition, first-class sailing and the world-class amenities always provided by the host club, the splendid Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Na Jomtien.

Kevin Whitcraft’s THA72 raced to a clear win in IRC 1.

43 boats competed in the single and double monohull dinghy classes, 46 windsurfers in the RS:One class and 140 youngsters in the Optimist class, meaning the “dinghy” fleets saw a record number of entries.  These competed on the first three days of the Regatta, while the keelboats and multihulls started on the second day.

The Regatta opened in perfect conditions (15– 20-knot wind, slight seas) but near the end of the opening day a most unseasonal north-easterly storm raged in at some 30 knots, flattening the dinghies all over the Gulf sailing course.  But, with its usual concern for safety, the race management and top-class rescue facilities, ensured all came back to “terra firma”, with much good humour and smiling faces.

Scott Duncanson and the crew on Kingdom Property (far right) on their way to winning the Platu Coronation Cup at the Top of the Gulf Regatta.

Continuing on from her win in the recent Hua Hin Regatta, local youngster Chanokchon Wangsuk showed the boys how to sail an Optimist by taking out the 2016 Optimist National Championship.  Third place in the A Fleet was secured by Saranwong Poonpat and the top four Thai finishers will now go on to represent Thailand at the Optimist Worlds in Portugal.

Placing in the top four throughout, and a discard when double-yellow-flagged, meant that Thai Olympian Keerati Bualong retained his Laser crown, with fellow countryman Apiwat Sringham in second and Malaysia’s Asri Bin Azman in third.

The beautiful 90-year old Selma enjoyed racing in the Gulf of Thailand.

The Laser 4.7 competition (Class 9b) went down to the wire with the winner being decided in the final race.  Asmawi Bin Azman secured the overall win while Thailand’s Suchatree Detthotsapol had to settle for second and Kamonchanok Klaharn placed third.

The pairing of Navee Thamsoontorn and Kittiporn Kumjorn put in a stella performance on the final day of racing in Class 10 – three first places, plus discarding their first race (when they never made the start on time), saw them crowned overall class winners.

Navee Thamsoontorn and Kittiporn Kumjorn (right) won Class 10.

Coming into the last day of the regatta, Kingdom Property, skippered by Scott Duncanson, had a seven point lead and bar a disaster was unlikely to let go of its grip on the Platu Coronation Cup.  It was thus more a race for the remaining podium places and in the penultimate race it was the ever-improving Russian team on Wikki, led by Valeriy Dichenko that pulled out all the stops to take their second win of the series.  Dichenko is a multi-regatta champion back home in Russia and you could see his never-say-die spirit throughout the regatta.

Duncanson and his crew had a halyard problem which slowed them down and resulted in them finishing a “lowly” third, however, that was enough for Kingdom Property to secure the Platu Coronation Cup title with one race to spare.  This is Scott Duncanson’s sixth Platu Coronation Cup title and the first ever three-peat in the competition’s 21-year history, having won it previously in 2014 and 2015.

Jessandra II on its way to winning the IRC 2 class.

Dichenko and crew went on to claim their third bullet of the series in the final race ahead of Heemskerk and Way, and with Duncanson not competing the final race, Way’s third place was enough for him to hold onto second place overall, one point ahead of the fast-finishing Dichenko.

In IRC 1 Kevin Whitcraft and his crew on THA72 finished their series with two more wins.  Except for a retirement in Race 2, Whitcraft made a clean sweep on his new TP52 in its first competitive outing and with it sent a warning shot to the rest of the Asian-based TP52’s.

Chanokchon Wangsuk (THA 112) became the 2016 Thailand Optimist National Champion.

The IRC 2 class title went to Roland Dane’s Corby 36 Jessandra II which scored six consecutive firsts and didn’t compete in the final race of the series.

IRC 3 Class went to Lennart Fahlgren’s Amanda who’s Thai/ Swedish crew scored seven wins from seven races to be the runaway winners.  Second overall was secured by Martin Brown’s Nautical Wheeler with Tim McMahon’s SailQuest Hi Jinks in third.

The Cruising class enjoyed five races over four days, a mix of windward/ leewards and some longer passage races.  Scored using a Performance Handicap system the glory went to Pote Suyasinto and his crew on Le Vent who comfortably took out the series title ahead of Sein Samathi 1, skippered by Nukool Pothi, in second and Cedric Rimaud and his 6-metre classic Selma, in third.

Close racing on Day 1 on the Top of the Gulf Regatta dinghy course.

A diverse line-up of multihulls in the Ocean Multihulls Class meant some lonely upfront racing for Radab Kanjanavanit and his team on Cedar Swan.  Heading into the final day, the pressure was on Cedar Swan and with them sharing the spoils with Kirati Assakul’s Sonic, with one race win each, it was Sonic that claimed the class title.

Kirati Assakul’s Sonic led the way in the Ocean Multihulls Class.

The 2016 Top of the Gulf Regatta Presented by Ocean Marina will go down as one of the best yet and most definitely the biggest.  A fleet of 271 boats ranging from Optimists to dinghies, windsurfs, keelboats and multihulls is the largest gathering of watercraft anywhere outside an Olympics in Asia, in recent times.  And the quality was there too.  From the largest TP52’s to the Rio-bound Laser sailors and windsurfers there was quality and sailing talent in abundance throughout the fleet.

*Infinity Communications contributed to this report. Photos provided courtesy of Guy Nowell/Top of the Gulf Regatta.

The RS:One Asia Championship 2016 was held as part of the Top of the Gulf Regatta. (Photo by Ho Kah Soon)

Two TP52’s battle it out at the Top of the Gulf Regatta 2016.