You can't always believe the weather forecast
Saturday 18th Dec 2021
The smal but competetive fleet of 3 classes went into the final day of racing, all with tied or very close overall results, so all to fight for. IRC class 1 saw 8 for The Next Factor against Meraki 10, with 2 races to go....Class 2 had Nijnsky and Insanity at 8 points each after 6 races, and Class 3 pair had Marikh only 1 point ahead of Dash.
The forecast was for a NNE at midday veering to a light NE by the end of play. What greeted the race officer as he left at 10am was a fresh NE of 5+ knots aiming straight down Kuah harbour.. perfect for neat windward/leeward races near to the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. So, to save time and get races off on time, to avoid the probable lull later in the afternoon, windward marks were laid on the way to the start. The dual startlines for this days racing was quickly set up, with a slight adjustment for the slightly different conditions halfway down the harbour, where a good 8 knots was heading neatly down from the windward mark.
12 noon, and Class 3 were sent on their way downlwind for an island race, like Fridays, but longer, whilst classes 1 and 2 hovered around for their starts, first class 1, then class 2, both on a short quick 2 lap dash to get everyone back ready for a longer second race. The Next Factor had some rigging problems just prior to the start but were ready to closs the line with all 3 boats neatly lined up, then class 2 with the usual tussle between Insanity and Nijinsky, leaving VG offshore to slide across through open water on a port tack at the pin end. So they were all off within 20 minutes of the 12 noon schedule, at least and hour earlier than in previous years. The move, by RO Malcolm, to a flexible 12 noon kick off has paid off during this regatta with all races, except Pangkor, being well on their way by the time the past years 13.00 time passed.
The first of Saturdays windward leward races, a 2 lap on the shortened couse, was over for both classes within an hour leaving plenty of time for a more tactical endurance race which took the class 1 boats on a 3 lap long course right to the north east end of the harbour, where winds ease and the effect of the nearby cliffs can catch out those new to Kuah harbour. The class 1 2nd start saw some pushing at the pin end resulting in Meraki being over the line and having to do a neat return and restart whist The Next Factor bore away from the hiatus spun around and found clean line for a port start and the Navy on Uranus sliding off to on a starboard tack. After that it was a case of making the most to the gradually easing wind and getting as much speed as possible to each downwind lag.
Class 2 had 3 laps of the shorter course, so were able to finish about the same time as the first class 1 boats were crossing the line. The RO shortened the class 3 at the last gate of the course otherwise they would have been a long time tacking up the remainder of the course to the committee boat. Then, as the last boats finished in good time to get back for a quick shower before the closing dinner, the wind died off, the rain came and all were grateful, including the mark and committee boats crew, the the rain had stayed away until then.
With Dash winning the epic island race it took class 3 to a tie break of 9 points, with Dash winning due to their last first. Insantity, with double 2nds, lost out to Nijinsky by 2 points, and The Next Factors 3rd and 2nd left them 1 point behind the series winners, Meraki, with the Navy's Uranus in 3rd place (full results on the www.rmsir.com website).
The prize giving dinner was a much smaller affair than past years, with everyone getting a prize. The series has seen close racing throughout, with nothing decided till the last day. It's the first time all scheduled races have been completed for many a year, and has seen a Penang start within sight of Staits Quay, well over an hour earlier than the usual drfting wait for wind that everyone expects for the final passage race. With just opening and closing dinners, the stopovers were much more relaxed and the whole event was more reminisent of the early days, 3 decades ago, of a club regatta.
Hopefully, by 2022, regular attendee boats from Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong will be allowed back into Malaysia and numbers will swell to past numbers. The smaller than usual team of support personell, on and off the water, were able to handle the reduced numbers and everyone had a good mix of races and sea states to cope with. As one of the very few regattas, in SE Asia, to have been mounted over the past 2 years it has managed to keep the 31 year old tradition of the Raja Muda Regatta alive in readiness for a fighting comback next year.