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Raja Muda 2013 – Penang Inshores. The boomerang that didn't come back

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 21 Nov 2013
Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2013. Penang. © Guy Nowell / RMSIR
The Penang inshore races in the Raja Muda series are best known for hot sunshine, flat water and a very long wait for a sea breeze to arrive. Today was rather different – 10 knots or so from the northeast, and persistent chilly rain. Tropical rain we understand: warm, heavy, and strictly short time. This was English rain. Booked in for the whole day.

Running Classes 1, 3, 4 and 7 on Course Red and 2, 5 and 6 on Course Yellow spread the personnel resources a bit, but a windward-leeward course was laid for the racing classes at 050 degrees and 1.6nm, with a vicious tide running perpendicular to the racecourse. It was a clear start, and HiFi quickly stretched her legs to round the top mark in pole position and run down to the bottom, still leading the pack. Utarid followed through in second, and then it became complicated.

Lero arrived on starboard with Windsikher overlapped on the inside, just as EFG Bank Mandrake came into the frame behind them. Windsikher had the inside berth, but the cross tide forced her to point up for the mark – just as Lero was being swept down to it, which meant that Windsikher was caught between a Russian (Lero) and a squishy place (the mark), choosing to kiss the mark in preference to a collision with Lero. So far, so good.

However, Windsikher hooked the mark in the process and started to carry it away. At the same time, EFG Bank Mandrake crossed behind the first pair only to meet Fujin coming to the pin on port – Fujin gybed to clear the area, but connected with Mandrake in the process (and was subsequently DSQ’d by the Jury).

Hang on, it gets better. Next, the incoming Class 3 fleet was obliged to round Windsikher who was still in control of the mark, before a RIB flying an ‘M’ flag took up position. But wait, the story continues! Class 4 safely rounded the ‘M’ flag, but the leading multihull in Class 7, Mojo, performed exactly the same manoeuvre as Windsikher – approaching on starboard for an uptide port rounding… and hooked the mark boat (which, lastly, was replaced by the original mark having been retrieved from Windseeker). Phew!

After that level of excitement, everything else was an anticlimax. The trailing boat in the Multihull class, Boomerang, took off on a spectator cruise after her leeward rounding and failed to respond to radio calls. That’s right, Jerry Rollin’s boomerang wouldn’t come back (thanks, Cozzie).

Race 2 took off sharpish on the same course, but the breeze started to swing left left and more left as the boats went round the top mark for the first time – from 050? all the way to 330?, making for a no-gybes spinnaker reach to the ‘leeward’ mark. Flag ‘C’ and course change to 330?, almost straight uptide, and forcing a 270? mark rounding. But wait – the wind then swung back to 050?and beyond to 020? making for another soldier’s course to the finish, but this time on port. It could have been a day for hair-tearing and petulant foot-stamping, but all was calm aboard the Committee Boat. Well, almost.

Boats With Doors were racing over on Yellow Course (Classes 2, 5, 6). Regatta Director Malcolm Elliott’s amazing grid-reverse-grid waypoint system for setting courses was working fine until Antipodes found that the windward mark had disappeared. Purloined for a greater cause – the subsidisation of the Penang fishing industry, maybe? The Radio Raja Muda chat show hosted by the RO had everyone voting for rounding a navigation mark, but Antipodes had already steamed past that and the prospect of calculating redress was going to be way too hard, so the race was abandoned.

Almost everyone was only too happy to wave goodbye at the end of a substantially cool and damp day on the water. T-shirts and shorts are meant to be ‘de rigeur’ for the Raja Muda, and rain is meant to be warm here in the tropics. So it was noticeable that many of the sailors were not sporting foulies of any sort. Brrrrr…

Back on shore, and fun time this evening was the prizegiving party at the Straits Quay Atrium. Great Penang street food, fast flowing beer, and a lion dance from the troupe that for my money (I have none, but I have seen an awful lot of lion dances during 30 years in Asia) put on the best show of them all. Bravo.

Quotes from the boats. Simon Piff, Rainbow Dream: 'We forgot the GPS and the SIs this morning, so figured we’d just follow everyone else. It was a surprise and a bit of a problem when we arrived at the top mark first and hadn’t got a clue where to go next…'

After today’s short course racing, tomorrow is back to the long haul stuff. Penang to Langkawi, and the moment when people start to ask 1. What day is it? 2. Are we there yet? and 3. How many more days? (The answer is three days’ racing and five races). Some will fall by the wayside. Watch this space.

Short results
(full results at

Class 1
1. Foxy Lady 2, 2, 1, 2, (7)
2. HiFi 4, 1, 3, 3 (11)
3. Windsikher (1, 4, 6, 1 (12)
Class 2
1. Antipodes 1, 1 (2)
2. Australian Maid 3, 2 (5)
3. 3. Shahtoosh 2, 4 (6)
Class 3
1. Fujin 1, 1, 3, 1 (6)
2. Steel de Breeze 2, 2, 2, 2 (8)
3. Sea Bass 3, 3, 1, 3 (10)
Class 4
1. Mat Salleh 1, 1, 1, 1 (4)
2. NiJinski 2, 2, 3, 2 (9)
3. Skybird 3, 6, 2, 3 (14)

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