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Raja Muda 2016 – the fat lady has sung

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 27 Nov 2016
Windsikher. Langkawi Inshores, Day 2. Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2016. Guy Nowell / RMSIR
Sarab Jeet Singh’s merry band of Windsikhers went into the last day’s racing with a six point lead over Mandrake Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns), and a further four in front of Black Baza (Steve Manning). In essence, the Raja Muda Cup was theirs to throw away. But there was no question of backsliding or taking the foot off the pedal or even throwing a few toys out of the pram. In two windward-leeward races in Bass Harbour, Windsikher drove home her advantage with two more wins, leaving the chasing opposition to share the remaining podium places – Mandrake 3, 2, and Black Baza 2, 3.

Curtailment of racing yesterday meant that PRO Jerry Rollin was keen to get three races in on the last day if possible. The first starts were bang on schedule, and the Class 1 boats nipped smartly round a 3-sausage 9 nm course in 75 minutes. 12kts of pressure on the start line helped, but it wasn’t destined to last.

Class 2 raced the same course, and Geoff Hill’s Antipodeans did their level best to fix their one-point deficit behind the Royal Malaysian Navy crew on Zuhal. The defending class champions scored 3,1 for an interesting score line of 1313131 (13) for the regatta, but the Navy boys had 2121212 which adds up to only 11, and wrote their name in the Raja Muda history book as the first local Malaysian crew to win the Class 2 trophy, the Jugra Cup. Huge congratulations all round: come prizegiving time, and the photographers needed extra-wide lenses to capture the extent of the smiles.

Classes 5 and 6 turned right at a windward mark and headed off to the scenic southern end of Bass Harbour for some island-hopping in moderate and steady breeze of the 10kts variety. “Only one complaint,” said Jeremy Camps (Old Pulteney Blue Angel) later. “We’d like our finish to be at the north end of Bass Harbour, so that motoring home wasn’t so far.” Camps had nothing else to complain about – with good reason. After an unfortunate opening race from Port Klang to Pangkor (was it only a week ago?) in which Blue Angel, a vintage Hunter Impala, was struck by lightning, lost her electrics and instrumentation, and failed to finish, the Campers hardly put a sheet wrong for the rest of the regatta. Four bullets and a second were enough to secure the Class 6 title with points to spare. Chris Mitchell (Lady Bubbly) lifted the Class 5 title with a 12-point lead over Rama Menon’s VG Offshore.

Back at the top end of the harbour, and the breeze was already going hard right before the first race was over, and softening. The choice was either to go back to the previous day’s course in front of the RLYC and stir the anguish of the Kuah Harbourmaster, or stay put and race windward-leeward race across the middle of Bass Harbour. “Do it now, do it quickly,” was in order, and the latter option won.

The second race of the day, for Classes 1 and 3, started light and got lighter. By the time the smaller div 3 boats were reaching the bottom of the track for the first time, and Class 1 were arriving at the windward mark for the second time, it was getting marginal. The camera boat was at the top mark, doubling as the mark boat (or was it the other way round?), when the call came – “Set up for a shortened course finish”, Windsikher was no more that 50m away. In a sparkling piece of boat driving and course management, the mark boat (or the camera boat) got an anchor down, in the right place, found the class and S flags and the horn, and sounded the first toot at 14:42:26.

In Class 3, Fujin added two more wins to complete a perfect score card, leaving Popeye (Craig Douglas) and Insanity (John Cara) on 22 points apiece and arguing about the minor placings. Popeye won by virtue of having four second places to Insanity’s three.

There was no question of attempting a third race, and the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta was over.

This event has delighted and infuriated many, many, sailors over its 27 year history. 2016 ran pretty much true to form. There was breeze on all the passage races, and there were holes. There were fishing nets, and there thunderstorms and even a lightning strike. There was a race lost in Penang when the breeze stopped being a tiger and became a cat in carpet slippers, and another inshore race lost in Langkawi. Wind does not appear on command, and the vagaries of the ‘atmospheric circulation’ are one of the characteristics of the event – there’s always a flat patch somewhere.

The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes is absolutely phenomenal. Sailors go sailing, arrive at the other end (eventually), drink beer and order the sandwiches for the next day. Meanwhile a convoy of boats and baggage is moving up the coast from location to location, the Race Secretariat moves likewise, parties are arranged in four different places, committee boats are leap-frogged along the 210nm course from Port Klang to Langkawi, support boats shift Race Officers back and forth from finish boats to shore (15nm at Pangkor, about the same at Penang), the scorers (and even the ever-loyal media crew!) work early mornings and late nights to keep everything up to date. Buoys, computers, flags, ground tackle, white boards, printers – everything moves. Everything. If you fancy yourself as a logistician, try running the Raja Muda. There is no other regatta in Asia like it, and probably nothing else in the world – go on, prove me wrong.

It’s practically a conjuring trick, and the army of RSYC staff, Navy personnel, the Royal Malaysian Police (whose contribution to the smooth running of the whole thing - from security to manpower to boats – cannot be overstated) should all be warmly thanked.

Last year I asked Sarab Jeet Singh for the secret of winning the Raja Muda. He replied, “I try to stay in the shade.” He confided in me yesterday, “It was harder this year – not much shade.” The Raja Muda is a great deal more than the sum of its parts. It is an adventure in its own right, and it both attracts and produces characters who all add a little something more to the tapestry that has been woven from 27 years of stories of racing from Port Klang to Pangkor. If you sail in this part of the world, you cannot count yourself an ‘Asian sailor’ until you have completed a Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta. Roll on 2017, and the 28th edition of this gem of an event.

Full results at:

Standing by on 72.

Zhik Yachting 660x82Beneteau SAIL Oceanis 51 and 57 660x82 1BandG AUS Triton2 660x82

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