Penang to Langkawi
The third and final passage race of the 32nd annual Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta got underway today. Ready, set, uh-oh, was the order of the day as PRO Simon James was set to send the sailors on a downwind 55km course to Langkawi at noon, but the wind died within the final starting sequence and for the next two hours the boats drifted and motor-sailed to the northern end of Penang. Finally, just before 2pm, some good wind was found and the competitors were underway.
Sarab Jeet Singh sailed Windsikher to line honours for the fourth straight race with an elapsed time of 5:28:05, hanging on to win first place in the Racing IRC class this time with Gordon Ketelby’s Ramrod taking second spot and Ahmad Fakhrizan’s Malaysian Navy’s Uranus placing third.
The Next Factor, the fourth boat in that class, was forced to retire from the regatta in Penang after damaging both its original and back-up main sails. It didn’t go away empty-handed though as two of its crew won the regatta’s rickshaw race held on the Admiral Marina boardwalk, which was sponsored by Healy Mac’s Irish Bar and Restaurant.
Hans Rahmann’s Yasooda took home the honours in the three-yacht Premier Cruising today as neither Simon Piff’s Firstlight or YP Loke’s Eagle were able to finish the race.
Dominic Liddell’s Venture with the Raja Muda on board took top spot in the five-boat Sports IRC class followed by Steve Manning’s Red Rum One and John Kara’s Insanity. Max Palleschi’s Prime Factor and Yi Lee Min’s Silhouette were unable to finish the passage race.
The three-boat Cruising IRC saw Laurence Ruslecki’s Rainbow Dream win for a change as neither Thomas Reckenfuss’ Born in Fire or Pang Kim Ann Daniel’s Mystic River were able to finish the race.
Cruising Non-IRC saw only M J Logaa S’s Recca cross the finish line with Rama’s VG Offshore, won had won the first three races in this class, unable to complete the course. Dato Alex Nah’s Virgo dropped out of the regatta in Penang and the fourth registered boat in the class Zulkifli Radzi’s Hannakin was still hoping to join the regatta in Langkawi as equipment failure prevented it from competing since the first race.
The Classic non-IRC division saw Ken Yap’s Millennium 2 finish first with Mustakim Ros Saidi’s Royal Malaysian Navy yacht Marikh and Shah Azlan’s Tofan still racing as we went to print. Dato Richard Curtis’ gaff-rigged cutter Eveline is set to join the fleet in Langkawi.
Regatta chairman Jeff Harris decided not to race his catamaran Serendipity anymore and was hoping to place some of his crew on another yacht, so they could get a bit more sailing in.
Coastal conditions in the Straits of Malacca set this event apart. Strong tides, unpredictable winds, shallow mud banks, fishing nets strung out across the course and “Sumatra” storms that appear from nowhere all contribute to making the three-night passages races uniquely challenging. Local knowledge certainly helps the navigator but it takes a combination of skill and luck to successfully decide if it's best to hug the coast, sail out offshore or take a more or less straight line up the middle. Most skippers also have to deal with very light winds at some point, and this is the time when concentration and stamina really come into play. On the upside, the sun shines regularly, the water is warm, and shorts and tee-shirts are the order of the day.
The late great Captain Marty summed it up best when asked what it took to win a Raja Muda regatta, “The long-standing format is the most challenging event on the Asian calendar. Ask any skipper how they fared and each one will have a different story to tell. Then ask the winning skipper of the racing class what it takes to win this endurance event and the picture becomes clearer. A good boat, fantastic sails and an exceptional crew work will get you most of the way there but it also helps if luck is on your side and the Gods working in your favour. Bring all that together and peak at the right time then perhaps you can win a Raja Muda Regatta.”