Raja Muda 2012 – A struggle to finish
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 25 Nov 2012
Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2012 - Ichiban, winners of the Raja Muda Trophy © Guy Nowell / RMSIR
For the sailors, it was wet and frustrating. For the photographers, it was disappointing. But for the PRO trying to run two windward/leeward courses it was a pig of a day that he won’t want to repeat.
First thing, grey, rainy, on and off. Nothing unusual in Langkawi, but it usually burns off fairly fast and as the island warms up the sea breeze comes in. The other version of ‘usually’ is that a squad of rain squalls take over the stage, messing with the wind strength and direction, and whiting-out parts of Bass Harbour. For the last day’s racing at the Raja Muda 2012 we got the latter. The sun came out for a short spell, the breeze died and the RO briefly contemplated an AP on shore. But there was wind on the water… there, over there, away down the harbour, no?
Start Boat 2 laid a line due south of Wavemaster for the cruising classes, with a windward mark to keep everyone honest, and the course went away south and west taking the boats around the same islands they visited yesterday but in a different order and direction. Rocks to port, this time. Classes 5 and 6 went away, and then the breeze swung completely, turning the windward mark into a leeward mark – so, spinnaker start for Class 2 and the multihulls.
Antipodes locked out Australian Maid at the first pin, and then took off up the bay at 8kts and feeling good. More rain, a lull, and another 180 shift bringing the Maid back into the picture. The Aussies sailed round Antipodes while she was waiting for the breeze to fill, and never looked back. It was a good fight, with Antipodes cutting AM’s lead in half on the way to the finish, but Australian Maid won on the water and on corrected time to take the race and the Jugra Cup for Premier Cruising division.
The rain-lull-shift sequence played havoc with all the running orders, with series leader Rascal being relegated to fourth place in Class 5 (but still hanging on to a series win) and Eveline once again excelling with a second in Class 6 – but Lady Bubbly had it all sewn up with a bullet and the Class title to boot. Mojo finished off the series in style with a third win in a row to take the Multihull title away from Rolf Heemskerk’s Hurricane having started the day on equal points. Wet, wet, wet was the same for everyone – crews could see the approaching rain patches, but there’s not much you can do to get out of the way when the island in front says turn NOW, with the added complication of severely reduced visibility on repeated occasions. Some of that rain is heavy stuff. Baby Tonga flirted with a patch of coral sand that had 4m of water over it according to the depth sounder (but clearly didn’t) and was obliged to turn on the engine to get unstuck – a DNF for use of engine was later ‘excused’ by the Jury in one of those rather quaint Asian Regatta Decisions.
Back at the northern end of Bass Harbour, it was all rather more complicated. A windward/leeward course was laid, but then abandoned and re-set as the wind swung through 180 and then died. Completely. When it came back it took an age to settle, and there was much rapid movement of marks. ARO Prakash Reddy won the Race Officer’s MVP Award – ‘first he was over there, then he was over there, and at one point I am sure I saw him in two places at once,’ noted ARO Peter Jolly (but it might have been the Tiger Talking…). The first and only race (there were meant to be two) got away at 1352h and was a stop-start affair for all concerned.
David Ross’s KukuKERchu picked up her skirts good and proper to record her first and only win of the regatta. Series leader Ichiban, holding a full house of five wins from five starts, took a day off and only managed a fourth place. There are no discards in the Raja Muda, but nine points from six races is hard to beat and Ichiban duly collected the Raja Muda Cup later that evening. Skipper David Fuller had Jamie Wilmot on board, which probably helped. ‘I’ve done a number of Raja Mudas, but not for a few years now, and this series was as tricky as it gets.’ Note for the statistically-minded: Ichiban, a Beneteau 44.7, sailed all but the last two races with only six crew – no bad thing in the prevailing light conditions.
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KukuKERchu wrapped up in second place, and last year’s Champion, EFG Bank Mandrake took the last podium spot on countback from the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Utarid.
In Class 4 Jon Cray’s Swan 42, Sea Bass (previously La Samudra), went into the last race trailing NiJinsky (Jeff Harris) by a single point, but pushed the J/92 down to second place to win the series – by a single point.
There’s no doubt it has been a tough series for all concerned. This year’s Raja Muda was plagued by light wind. The AP flew at the start of every single racing day. RO Jerry Rollin said, ‘We were disappointed not to get the full race card completed, but conditions were really against us on the last day. It was certainly a ‘light’ regatta, but looking back over the records of the elapsed times for the passage races, none of it was outside the norm. There’s always a slow race in the set – this time we just had more than one of them. There were close finishes on the water, and on handicap, and results for three of the six classes were decided on the final race, which surely means that we had ‘close racing’. The Raja Muda has always been a challenging and exhausting event for all concerned, and remains so. It is an entirely unique regatta, and judging by the number of happy sailors at the closing party, one that is well-received and enjoyed by a great many people. Roll on 2013!’
With highly unstable weather all across the islands, the decision was made late on Saturday to send the prizegiving, awards and closing party ‘under cover’. In the end, it didn’t rain on the parade, but a call had to be made. So it was rather cramped, but that didn’t seem to dampen any of the spirits, and if anything raised the volume of an appreciative crowd when the class prizes, the Jugra Cup and the Raja Muda Trophy were handed over – with strong exhortations from Regatta Director Malcolm Elliott that they were not to leave the premises! Cups and trophies were duly filled, drained, and filled again, and the party in Charlie’s Place was showing no sign of quietening down at 0100h.
The Raja Muda used to bill itself as ‘Asia’s most challenging regatta.’ Then the posters asked the question, ‘Can you beat it?’ If a combination of overnight passage races, inshore races, light breeze, heavy squalls, baking sun and torrential rain sounds like a challenge to you – then sign up for the Raja Muda 2013. The regatta shirts now say it’s ‘…the one not to be missed’. Correct.