While the Cruising divisions were making their way south from an overnight stopover at P. Karas Besar, the Racing divisions were on the water for a day of windward-leeward races, after a relaxed start to the morning. Arriving at the island late last night, and taking the opportunity to unwind at the Equator Bar over a few Bintangs and maybe a rum or two, a 1200h start time was definitely in order.
One boat failed to arrive at the island yesterday. Via the inReach tracking system carried on all boats, Kaze reported an electrical problem that caused her to stop racing and return to Nongsa. (The inReach system is a rather cool little unit that ‘answers back’. It works like an REPIRB, but will also reply with confirmation that an emergency signal has been received and help is on the way. And, when hooked up to an iPhone or Android device, it can be used for SMS messaging absolutely anywhere in the world).
After a breakfast of bacon sandwiches and mugs of coffee, crews went aboard in sensational equatorial sunshine. First race, two sausages at 030 degrees, and the weather looked set to provide picture postcards all day. Kukukerchu and Walawala raced one race, and Sea Bass and Rikki Tikki Tavi raced another, slightly slower, one. This time the back markers didn’t have the benefit of a filling breeze to give them the advantage – so it was 1, 2 to Walawala and Kukukerchu respectively and devil take the hindmost. In 12+ knots of breeze, the multihulls made short work of the course, with The Dash finishing after only 45m 16s.
Black clouds were amassing to the north, and the wind backed to 000 degrees and strengthened. It was starting to look thoroughly unpromising with buckets of rain promised, but a good soaking never stopped a yacht race. Off they went again against a black backdrop of cloud, brightly coloured spinnakers looking brave against the dark. It was looking pretty feisty for the small multihulls – plenty of spray and attitude – and at the end of the first sausage the wind was still building and squall was getting closer and closer. At this point the photographer abandoned the open camera boat in favour of the Committee Boat. A good call as it turned out, as the wind piped up to 28kts, the heavens opened, the water turned white and visibility dropped to a couple of hundred metres.
The monohulls were now on their run down to the finish line, storming through the whiteout, with Kukukerchu leading the way in a flying spray charge that looked very impressive from the (dry) safety of the wheelhouse of the Committee Boat, Oceantalk.
The multis followed along, but with Dash Boot retiring on account of a broken dagger board which has now been replaced by a planed teak copy run up in mere moments at the village boatyard on nearby Pulau Blanding.
Weather is fast-changing stuff in this part of the world. Take a look at the three - there’s less than two hours from first to last of the racing pictures.
The Racing classes came home in the tail end of the blow to find the anchorage a great deal more populated than when they had left it at 1130h – the Cruisers had arrived from Karas Besar.
Dinner at the Neptune Canteen was a little delayed because the downpour had extinguished the charcoal barbeques, but slick work behind the bar meant that there were lots of happy sailors on P. Sikeling when the sun went down. And the Irish stew that appeared later was almost as good as the previous night’s chilli (although some say it was the other way around).
1. Walawala 3, 1, 2 (6)
2. Kukukerchu 4, 2, 1 (7)
3. Sea Bass 1, 3, 4 (8)
4. Rikki Tikki Tavi 2, 4, 3 (9)
1. The Dash 1, 1, 1 (3)
2. Manao Express 2, 3, 2 (7)
3. Tri To Fly 4, 2, 3 (9)
4. Dash Boot 3, 4, DNF-6 (13)
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia
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8:56 AM Sun 17 Feb 2013GMT
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