Raja Muda race 1 - sail changes, anchors, and rain
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 20 Nov 2012
Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2012 © Guy Nowell / RMSIR
Down came the rain. Torrential rain. And then more rain – and we hadn’t even got to the starting area at the mouth of the Klang River. After a few grey, dry, moments as the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2012 bade farewell to the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, the heavens opened with such enthusiasm that the camera boat couldn’t even find the Committee Boat.
Of course, being tropical, it didn’t last forever. By the time the first start at 1100h came due it had become just ‘regular’ rain spattering the coffee-coloured river and giving everyone cause to wonder what breeze would be left when it stopped. The answer was a perfectly sensible 6-8 knots as classes 5 and 6 were swept broadside towards the line by a 4-knot current and headed up the coast in the direction of Pangkor, 90nm away.
There is a photographer’s dictum that says ‘for good photographs you need three things: wind, sun and waves. Only two is manageable, but only one by itself doesn’t work. Take a look at the pictures.
Two hours later, and it was time to start classes 4, 2, and 1. By then the rain had indeed stopped, but it still didn’t look very exciting. There was breeze in the starting area, but the rest of the fleet were still visible a couple of miles up the track, some with spinnakers drooping, some without, and everyone pointing in different directions.
Back on the start line, it was the Royal Malaysian Navy’s DK47 Utarid on the front row, but quickly rolled by first EFG Bank Mandrake and then Foxy Lady, chasing the big boats in class 2 – Antipodes, Baby Tonga, Australian Maid and No Name.
The peripatetic nature of the Raja Muda requires that once a passage race is under way, the first organisational consideration is to get the RO to the finish as fast as possible, and in case faster than the first finisher. This year the support logistics are being run by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency – that’s the Coastguard to you and me. The Committee Boat is a 60’ RFB high speed Search and Rescue vessel. Up came the anchor, down went the throttles, and off we went. Three hours later we were at Pangkor, dropping off the RO and team on the finish boat.
Meanwhile, back on the racetrack, everyone was having a tough time of it. ‘We had everything from zero to 30 knots of breeze, and it came from every direction.’ There were even a few of the mandatory west coast thunderstorms known as ‘Sumatras’ to spice up the meteo. There were fishing nets strung across the course, and plenty of boats found them. KukuKERchu was the second finisher, but not before she had spent some 20 minutes disentangling herself from nets – and if anyone was wondering why Adam Minoprio (WMRT Champion and recently VOR Camper crewman) was later seen wearing the Kukus’ ‘Most (non) Valuable Player’ Garfield t-shirt – yes, it was to do with fishing nets. There were even nets around the finish line, but the RO assures us that he didn’t arrange it that way.
The biggest boat in the fleet, Geoff Hill’s 76’ Antipodes, claimed line honours for the day after almost 14 hours, and also took out first place in Premier Cruising.
The winner of class one was the Beneteau 44.7 Ichiban, on charter to David Fuller, and boasting Jamie Wilmot among her crew. Ichiban played the ‘buffalo girls’ card and came back from nowhere to glory, winning on corrected time by 32 minutes in front of EFG Bank Mandrake.
So, all in all, business as usual for the first leg of the Raja Muda. One very technical sailor described it as ‘technical.’ Other words we heard on the terrace of the Sea View Resort were ‘frustrating’, infuriating’, and ‘hellish.’ Only two boats failed to make the 28 hours’ cut off. It wasn’t a race that demanded you ‘go out’ or ‘go in’. It was a race that required an exceptionally keen sense of where you were on the chart, a readiness to drop anchor very smartly, the ability to see the shifts were coming through, and tireless work on the sail changes – again, and again, and again…
After a gloriously sunny Sunday while crews relaxing on the terrace of the renowned Sea View Resort at Pasir Bogok, the trophies were handed out during a traditional Pangkor downpour.
Tomorrow: Pangkor to Penang. See you in the Pearl of the Orient.
2 EFG Bank Mandrake
2 Australian Maid
3 Baby Tonga
2 Rainbow Dream
2 Fortissimo 8
3 Free Wind
1 Lady Bubbly
3 Kay Sira
Full results at www.rmsir.com