The Final Day
Taking home line honours in every race, Sarab Jeet Singh/Nick Burns’ Windsikher won its fourth Raja Muda, tying Neil Pryde’s Hi-Fi for all the all-time record in the Racing IRC class. Gordon Ketelby’s Ramrod finished second and Ahmad Fakhrizan’s Malaysian Navy’s Uranus third in the four-boat class as Next Factor had to retire from the race in Penang with damaged main sails.
After a twelve-year absence Hans Rahmann’s Yasooda won the three-yacht Premier Cruising capturing the Jugra Cup for the second time, having won it previously in 2007. Simon Piff’s new yacht Firstlight was second and YP Loke’s Eagle was third.
Dominic Liddell’s Venture, with the Raja Muda on board, took home the Aziz Abdullah trophy in the five-boat Sports IRC class followed by John Kara’s Insanity, Steve Manning’s Red Rum One, Max Palleschi’s Prime Factor and Yi Lee Min’s Silhouette in that order.
The three-boat Cruising IRC saw a competition between Singaporean-based boats as Thomas Reckenfuss’ Born in Fire dominated winning every race winning the Jeff Harris trophy with Laurence Ruslecki’s Rainbow Dream narrowly edging out Pang Kim Ann Daniel’s Mystic River for second spot in the three-boat class.
Cruising Non-IRC saw Rama’s VG Offshore also win every race in its class to take home the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club Cup with M J Logaa S’s Recca placing second. Dato Alex Nah’s Virgo and Zulkifli Radzi’s Hannakin dropped out of the regatta along the way.
The Classic non-IRC division saw another sweep as Mustakim Ros Saidi’s Royal Malaysian Navy yacht Marikh won every race in its class to capture the Richard Curtis Cup. Shah Azlan’s Tofan placed second and Ken Yap’s Millennium 2 was third. Dato Richard Curtis’ 112-year-old gaff-rigged cutter Eveline joined the regatta in Langkawi and sailed the final race.
There were some somber moments during the awards presentation as Dato Richard Curtis paid tribute to the late Datin Lala Johan and all the hard work she did in keeping the regatta going. Martin Axe also rang eight bells for the recently departed Lee Mun Wai.
No matter what the weather conditions, the overnight bases of Pangkor, Penang and Langkawi of this regatta offer a tropical island experience for all who take part, including warm, clear water, exotic birds and coral reefs. Malaysian cuisine is world-renowned, so for many crew members the chance to try out spicy local delicacies like Roti Canai, Curry Laksa, Satay and Char Kway Teow is as important as the time spent on the water. In Penang, an intermediate prize giving ceremony and dinner is organized at the magnificent Koo Kongsai, a Chinese Clan Temple, where the audience is treated to a colourful cultural show.
Each of the three passage races (Port Klang to Pangkor, and then on to Penang and finally Langkawi) invariably end up giving all crews a very testing work-out both in terms of weather conditions encountered - anything from light-and-shifty to quick and dirty tropical squalls. Endurance wise each race is long enough to keep all the boats sailing through the night, but not long enough to drop into a rotating watch system. Three very long sprints, in effect. And then there are the tactical and navigational challenges to cope with, from the notorious rounding of the Kra Bank on the way into Penang to the ever-taxing decision to “stay in” towards the coast or “go out” looking for offshore breeze – neither option carries any guarantees. Not for nothing has the event long billed itself as “Asia’s most challenging regatta”.
The regatta has been hailed as a “tactician’s regatta” as the strong currents, tides, sea and land breezes demand the utmost concentration and planning. The Straits of Malacca used to be one of the most dangerous passages on earth due to pirates. But today, it’s not pirates that sailors fear, but container vessels, fishing trawlers, and floating debris. The regatta’s night passages can be particularly hazardous as many of the fishing vessels use the “Bic” system for illumination (flicking their lighter on just before a yacht’s bow is set to cut them into two).
At night in the Straits of Malacca, you can get a sense of what the sailors of yore had to endure during their expeditions. Imagine being out there without any form of electronic gadgetry, caught in a raging thunderstorm without any visible landmarks, not knowing what was lurking in wait for you once the skies cleared.
The dates for the 33rd Raja Muda are still to be set, but it usual that the RMSIR ends a week before the Kings Cup starts... Make sure to plan your schedule accordingly, so you don’t miss any of the fun.