Pangkor to Penang Race 3
Penang 11:00 15/12/21
Race 3 to Penang
It might be a small fleet this year due to Covid restrictions keeping boats
and crews out of the country, but the competition is just as fierce. Class one
has Meraki and The Next Factor with practically the same IRC fighting neck and
neck every race since the shadowed each other out of Port Klang Saturday
morning. The 3rd race of the series, Race 3 Pangkor to Penang started with a
flutter and ended, for some, with a deck soaking beat up to the finish line.
The start line had to be moved up the coast of Pangkor until there was enough
wind to coax the boats over the line with a light westerly calling for some innovative
sail choices in order to set course northward. The 2 Class 3 boats that started
took their time to ease round the pin and get away... no risk of X flags
there! Class 2 sees a battle between
Insanity and Nijnsky, so VG Offshore took advantage of the clear space and
undisturbed breeze at the boat end of the line to get a good start right on
course from the beginning. Some interesting prestart maneuvers by Meraki paid
off as all 3 class 1 boats were lined up and crossed the start within a few
seconds of the class flag dropping. On a passage race of well over 12 hours
such a tight start is not often seen.
Thankfully the wind freshened and veered to NW not long after the boats had cleared the northern tip of Pangkor so the fleet headed on the usual 330 course which allows the boats to keep clear of the Kra Bank shoal before finishing just South of Penang. From the start boat, after overtaking the fleet, we felt like an F1 safety car as they followed like duckling row, quickening their pace as the wind built to a healthy 8 knots and above. The normal array of fishing drift nets that pepper that part of the course were nowhere to be seen... until a few later further north, and the few trawlers around were easy to avoid. Then, as the sun headed to the horizon the wind picked up, bringing with it some very lumpy seas which caused some deck soaking for most boats and what must have been a tiring journey for the smaller boats, with the wind on the nose until they were able to round Kra bank and tack to the finish line.
Even the 40+ class 1 fleet suffered as Meraki experienced a backstay rigging failure and had to retire, leaving Uranus and The Next Factor to battle it out in the chop, with the slightly longer hull length of the Navy boat overcoming the sea conditions and their higher rating to manage get their first, first of the series. This now leaves the Mills 41 and Farr 40 on equal points with one more passage race before they start their harbour race battles in Langkawi.
Class 2 duel between Nijinsky and Insanity could have seen the smaller Nijnsky suffering in the chop, but they both ploughed through the weather, which thankfully did not turn into the usual evening thunderstorm, rain soaking, lightning producing, wind killing conditions of past years. VG Offshore took up third place getting past the second gate.
Class 3 saw the tiny Marikh ride out the roller coaster ride to capture a first, whilst Dash made some very wide tacks which did not pay off, leaving her last in the pack to see the dawn rise over Penang.
Thursday is the dash to Langkawi and with a NE kicking in it is likely to be another single tack rhumb line race to the virtual finish line at the entrance to Kuah harbour.