Penang to Langkawi Passage Race
After yesterday’s maelstrom, blue skies and sunshine were back on the Penang menu. Also back on the menu was a complete lack of breeze at the appointed start time – but well-salted RMSIR sailors know that merely means an L flag on the Committee Boat, a short trip along the rhumb line to Penang, start v2.0, and then breeze all the way to Langkawi.
It really was glassy as the fleet motored 330° behind PA50. [This is a good moment to say thank you to the Royal Malaysian Marine Police who have for very many years assisted the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta by providing a start boat, safety and media boats, and an umbrella of safety cover all the way from Port Klang to Langkawi. We hope that they enjoy participating in the regatta as much as we all enjoy having them along for the event. Without them, this event would not happen. On behalf of all the organisers & competitors, thank you.]
Marikh (Class 6) hit the start line with the afterburners lit – relatively speaking – and so did Prime Factor (Class 4). Antipodes (Class 2) executed a flawless start, arriving at the boat end bang on time and with room, tacking onto port on the line, and tramping off into a lead that they would hold onto all the way the finish line and monohull Line Honours.
Angela, the hot-property all-carbon racing trimaran out to give Scallywag Fuku bld a run for her money on paper at least, stalled some 200 yards behind the start line and watched Scallywag cruise past her bow, hit the line on time, fully arced up (ok, there was about 8kts of breeze) and with style, and yacht off through the fleet, popping out the front 28 minutes later having overtaken boats that had started a full 30 minutes earlier. It’s easy when you weight nothing!
It was a straight line race with wobbles. “The breeze was up and down a bit, and kept us on our toes,” said Regatta Chairman Jeff Harris, crewing on Janda Baik in the Premier Cruiser class. Antipodes chewed up the miles at the front of the fleet, and then came a squall. “It wasn’t very powerful,” said navigator Alan ‘Guilty’ Tilyer, “no more than 20 knots, but it spun the breeze round 180° and killed it. Tactician Matt Humphries called it just right – we dropped the spinnaker, gybed, went straight into the squall, hoisted a jib and walked away from the rest of the fleet.”
Others were less lucky (or less good at reading the wind). Malee Whitcraft on THA72 (TP52) reported that “we were in the middle of a peel when the call for the jib came, and for a moment we had three ‘headsails’ up at the same time. Not quite as planned.”
The squall became the defining feature of the race, letting pass those in and in front of it, and topped anyone on the wrong side of it. It shut off the breeze to the south east, and for many boats the last few miles were particularly painful and slow. Those on the finish boat stayed dry and bathed in a moonlit night awaiting the inevitable last boat.. Eveline, who crossed the line with the weirdest of navigation lights, resembling a floating disco.. but then again she is renowned for being a party boat. This year she was not alone at the back, with Esperanza just sliding in ahead of her to the welcome cheers of the finish boat crew who were at least able to hit their beds just before dawn.