'Mount Gay Rum 2012 Neptune Regatta. Glorious sailing conditions in glorious scenery.'
Last year’s Mount Gay Rum Neptune Regatta moved away from its inaugural slot over Chinese New Year, and suffered a drop in numbers as a result. There’s an awful lot packed into the Asian regatta calendar at this time of year (Raja Muda, Phuket King’s Cup, Royal Langkawi, Singapore Straits and the Boracay Cup between mid-November and the middle of February) and those sailors that say they have to go to work occasionally just can’t fit it all in. If you get (almost) a week off and then go back to ask the boss for another week’s holiday a week of so later doesn’t always go down so well. So, for the third running of the Neptune, it’s back to Chinese New Year. And the numbers are up – well up.
Mount Gay Rum 2012 Neptune Regatta. - © Guy Nowell/ Mt Gay Rum Neptune Regatta
On Monday a total of 30 boats will be setting off south from Nongsa Point Marina on the north coast of Batam (just 10nm across the Singapore Strait from Tanamerah ferry terminal). The fleet will thread their way 70-odd miles down the Pengelap Strait and through a picturesque scatter of islands to a finish line at Pulau Sikeling, aka Neptune Island, and via a stopover, raft-up, dinner and socials at Pulau Karas Besar for the Cruising fleet.
There’s a day of windward-leeward racing at Pulau Sikeling while the racers wait for the cruisers to arrive, and then the signature occasion of the event, the Garmin Race to Zero, – an 8-mile straight line sprint to a finish at the equator (ie 0deg 0min 0 sec) where crews ‘pause’ racing to welcome first time line-crossers (Slimy Pollywogs) to the court of King Neptune. Second leg of the race, back to P. Sikeling, is therefore entirely manned by Trusty Shellbacks. Bonus: nice bits of electronic gear on offer by way of prizes from race sponsor Garmin.
Now reverse the operation, and everyone returns to Nongsa Marina in time for a bang-up prizegiving party beside (and, eventually, in) the pool Marina.
Neptune is as much an adventure as a regatta. In addition to the sailing and racing programme, the regatta will be joined by an 8-strong powerboat fleet. One of the powerboat owners (who joined in the inaugural 2011 Neptune Regatta) told us, 'sailors enjoys lots of social occasions – they are called regattas. Powerboaters don’t get to enjoy events like that, and tend to be a bit solitary. The Neptune Regatta is a great opportunity for all sorts of boaters to get together.' And we know that the sailors make the engine-driven people very welcome, especially when they can be persuaded to help a little by carrying ice and such like down to Neptune Island!
Pulau Sikeling (Neptune Island) is entirely uninhabited, with no infrastructure, facilities or even water, making caring for a fleet of 30 boats a logistical tour de force. Accommodation is provided in the shape of a tent village, there’s a bar (of course), bbq catering (exactly how many beefburgers and sausages do you need to feed 300+ sailors for four days? Clue: a lot!).
Mount Gay Rum 2012 Neptune Regatta. Of course there’s a bar at Neptune Island. - © Guy Nowell/ Mt Gay Rum Neptune Regatta Click Here to view large photo
Glamorous Hong Kong tv presenter Angela Kan Discovery Channel) will be along for the ride on board The Dash (Corsair 750), and a 1-hour programme on the regatta will be broadcast in due course – we’ll be sure to let you know when this is scheduled. The Dash is not what you’d call a big, luxurious boat, Ms Kan won’t have much occasion to adjust her lipstick, but she’s definitely a feisty lady and up for a challenge!
Many of the usual culprits are here for the third edition of the regatta, with a few new names looking for a regatta experience with a difference. David Ross’s Kukukerchu will be defending her IRC1 title, but is sure to get a good fight from Walawala 2 (Sydney GTS43, Steve Manning). Alice Lim and crew (The Dash) are also defenders, having taken the Multihull Racing title on the last race of the 2012 event.
An all-new Premier Cruising division includes Anthony Hastings’s Baby Tonga and Peter Moore’s Shahtoosh, and Cruisers WYSIWYG and Mico Verde are back for a third time.
Registration is happening right now in Nongsa, with torrential rain outside, falling from the sky like string. Never mind, tomorrow is another day and all sailors are optimists, right?
Rikki Tikki Tavi
Tri to Fly
Don't Think Twice
Sky Deck 96
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia
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6:28 AM Sun 10 Feb 2013GMT
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