A Full House
It couldn’t have been any closer...
In what was the closest Raja Muda Cup final in history as Nick Burns’s Witchcraft (a Mills King 40) defeated Rolf Heemskerk’s The Next Factor (a Farr 40) by two seconds on corrected time in the final race and one second on corrected time in the penultimate race, winning the cherished chalice by one point overall and giving Burns his fourth Raja Muda title.
PRO Simon James staged two races on the final day of the regatta, held in Langkawi’s Kuah Harbour. With the wind blowing 12 knots, he set two rolling starts; the first, heading out at 11:25, for classes 1-3 (nine boats) on course 2, and the second for classes 4-6 (nine boats) on course 5. The second race, held at 12:35, had everyone doing course 11.
The Malaysian Navy’s Uranus, skippered by Hanif Husain, finished third in class one with 24 points, though it did take line honours in the first two races. Steve McConaghy’s Aftershock (a Davidson 55) ended up in fourth spot, with 31 points.
In the two-boat class two (Premier IRC Cruising) Hans Rahmann’s custom-built Yasooda had a terrific regatta claiming line honours twice but when handicaps were applied only beat Peter Cremers’ Shatoosh (a Warwick 75) once by default in the last race.
Lee Yi Min’s Silhouette (a First 40.7) certainly was in no one’s shadow in this regatta winning all but one race in the three-boat class three (Sports IRC), finishing with 10 points. Steve Manning’s Red Rum One (an Archambault A4ORC) was second with 17 points and Max Palleschi’s Prime Factor (a Farr 40) in third with 21 points. After the regatta, Max announced that he will be taking his boat back to Australia to do some work on her, but will be competing in the Nongsa Neptune Regatta along the way.
The three-boat class four (Sports non-IRC) was won by Chris Mitchell’s Lady Bubbly (a Naut 40) as it captured six of the eight races in its class, finishing with 10 points overall. Karan Khara’s Sitka (a Sun Odyssey 429) was second with 15 points. Sonny Soh’s Lady Elluanne (a Jeanneau 54) finished third with 26 points, as it was unable to compete in three of the races.
If there was a “determination award” in the regatta Lady Bubbly certainly would have won it overcoming a number of difficulties, including a torn spinnaker and a bout of dehydration to its skipper.
The three-boat class five (Cruising non-IRC) saw Ramasamay Menon’s, VG Offshore (a Dehler 38) claim victory winning half of its races and finishing second in the other half for a total of 12 points. Amir Zohri’s Dash (a Yamaha 36) was second with 19 points; Dash had trouble with its shrouds, which made it unable to finish or compete in the last three races. Ken Yap’s Millennium 2 (a Hunter 326), dogged by engine trouble throughout the regatta, finished third with 16 points. As the regatta’s technical savant Malcolm Elliott said, “Ken is always the first to register, the first to pay and yet the last over the line.... year after year.”
Jamil Urayah’s s Malaysian Navy Marikh (a Contesa 32) won six of the eight races in its division to capture the three-boat class six with 11 points. Muhd Izarn’s Royal Malaysian Police’s Team Sham on Penarik (a Catalina 30) was second with four points behind claiming two class victories along the way. Shah Azlan Ramli’s Tofan (a Westerly Storm 33) finished third with 22 points. Dato Richard Curtis’ Eveline did not end up racing due to engine trouble but Richard was present at both the opening and closing parties.
Competitors in this regatta proved that age is not a hindrance to competing in the Raja Muda regatta. Rama, the well-loved Vice Commodore of the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, and the indefatigable Chris Mitchell, are in their mid-70s and time-and-time again proved their mettle.
History was made in the regatta when by sailing on Witchcraft Zack Izham became the first Malay to win the Raja Muda Cup twice, capturing it first in 2009 as a 23-year-old crewmate on Amir Zuhri Rahim’s Gotcha. In the 2009 regatta, Zack also sailed with his father in 2009, making further history by being the first Malay father-son combination to win the regatta.
Terrence Ho of the Singapore Sailing Federation was on hand at the closing party to announce the continuation of the prestigious Lipton Cup with the IRC boat with the winner being the yacht with best combined scores in the Raja Muda, Langkawi (replacing the King’s Cup) and Singapore Regattas.
The guest VIP for the final evening was Bernard D’Alessandri, Managing Director of the Royal Monaco Yacht Club who exchanged burgees with Azlan Abdullah, Executive Director of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, and Che Wan Mohamed Azuar, Commodore of the Royal Selangor Yacht Club.
The regatta also marked the seamless handover from Jeff Harris, past regatta chairman, to Irsyad Ismail, the new regatta chairman, and head of the RSYC’s sailing school. The regatta owes a great deal of gratitude to Jeff for all his hard work over the years, and if this year’s regatta is any indication, it will also owe a great deal of gratitude to Irsyad in the future.
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”.
In a world gone mad, it is so refreshing to see how everyone can come together regardless of race, creed or religion to make this regatta a great success.
The dates for the 2024 Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta are set for November 15th to 23rd 2024. Don’t miss out if you want to be part of Southeast Asia’s most exciting and challenging regatta.