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Raja Muda 2011- ‘Inshore, inshore, inshore’

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 22 Nov 2011
RMS11 0280 - Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2011 - EFG Bank Mandrake Guy Nowell / RMSIR
Nobody would call the Klang River attractive, so although it’s always a shame to say goodbye to the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, it is very good to get down to the mouth of the river and head north to Pulau Pangkor in the first race of the Raja Muda series.

It’s 90nm up the coast to the entrance of Pasir Bogok, very much the home of the regatta fleet hereabouts, but do not be deceived by the fact that you can connect the start and finish with one straight line. The two things that complicate the first leg of the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta are the tidal currents in the shallow inshore water, and the highly unpredictable and extremely local weather systems.

RO Jerry Rollin found a good-sized open space for a start line among an unusually large number of moored vessels, but the breeze was still in bed. 6kts on the clock was enough to send Class 7 at 1150h, and the breeze gradually built to a peak of 11kts for the combined start of IRC Classes 1, 3 and 4. Course to Pangkor is 330°, which is just about where the breeze was coming from. Hi Fi (Neil Pryde), winner of the last three Raja Muda Cups, popped out the front of the pack and was launched. All boats headed north on a port tack, looking to stay in towards the shore line and out of the worst of the flooding tide.

Over the years plenty of boats have made big gains from staying as far inshore as possible – there are plenty of stories of ‘bouncing off the contours’ while keeping a beady eye on the depth gauge – and this year proved the point. The point being, on this occasion, that a series of cells along the coast eventually bent the breeze round from northwest to east, and everything depended on where you were when the change came, and how close inshore.

The place you really didn’t want to be, as Hi Fi found out, was leading the fleet from an ‘out’ rather than ‘in’ position (and they were indeed leading by a country mile), and then have to bet to the finish while the rest of the fleet reached out from the coast under spinnakers. Add in a tech failure in the wind instruments and non-functioning powered winches, and '25 tacks to the finish was a real marathon,' said Kevin Costin. Hi Fi finished the opening race of the series with a division last place. 'The Raja Muda is such a tactical series. If you sail well, you still need a little bit of luck to win. Ours definitely ran out yesterday.' Second last at the back of the division was David Ross’ new Ker 40, KukuKERchu. 'Inshore, inshore, inshore,' was the lament, and 'we just weren’t far enough to the right. We were lifted 30° when the new breeze came in, and we couldn’t go in, and we couldn’t go out.'

Another place you really don’t want to be, as Katsu (Ben Copley, Club Swan 42) found out, is so far inshore as to be on the putty. Pressing inshore as far as they dared, and watching the depth sounder, Andy McPhail reported that 'we slowed down and slowed down and didn’t even notice it. And then we were stopped – well, we noticed that!' At that point the instruments still read 0.9m water under the keel, which rather suggests an error in the datum set-up. That error cost Katsu an hour on the mud, and pushed then down to last place in Class 3.

At the top end of Class 1 – in first place - was the lowest rated boat in the division – Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns’ Mills 40, EFG Bank Mandrake. Various editions of Mandrake crew brought plenty of Raja Muda experience with them, including Jimmy ‘I used to be the Race Officer’ Farquhar and Warwick ‘I think I’ve been here before’ Downes. 'We had a lousy start at the back of the stalls, but after that we went ‘in’ and we stayed in,' said Downes over a Tiger breakfast. 'Even when everyone else wanted to go ‘out’ we stayed in a bit longer, and we made our position on the race course really count. You could see the cells lining up along the coast, so it was just a question of where we wanted to be when the change came, and the only answer was inshore. And then we reached for the finish. OK so maybe we were a bit lucky..!' Second place went to Royal Malaysian Navy’s brand new DK47, Utarid.

In Class 2 (Premier Cruising) Fraser Johnston’s comment on a first place was enthusiastic, if unprintable. Baby Tonga (Beneteau 53) is on charter, and running under the name ‘Team Strongbow The Goat’ which sounds almost equally unprintable. Class 3 honours went to Sarab Jeet Sing’s Windsikher, followed by Foxy Lady 5 (Bill Bremner), and Katsu (Ben Copley) who found out too late that the datum point on their depth sounder was in error. 'We slowed down and slowed down and nobody even noticed,' said Andy McPhail, 'and then we were stopped.' That cost them an hour parked on the putty, and pushed them down to the bottom of the division (3rd). Neil Ankcorn’s veteran campaigner, Mat Salleh, with all the usual suspects on board, turned up at the start line with an impressive new suit of sails. 'That made a difference,' said Ankcorn, and it certainly did – first place in Class 4.

Class 6 honours went to the ever-green Eveline, despite finish convincingly last in the race fleet. This is a rare occurrence at the Raja Muda, despite Eveline’s almost permanent place in the entry list. Even the crew were surprised, and had to ask the Results Officer, 'are you sure that’s right?' It was, by a margin of 2 hrs on corrected time over Barry Wickett’s Kay Sira.

Next race: Pangkor to Penang, first start at 1155hrs.

Class 1
1 EFG Bank Mandrake (Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns)
2 Utarid (Royal Malaysian Navy, Mohd Razali Mansoor)
3 Zanzibar (Jonathan Mahoney)
Class 2 (Premier Cruising)
1 Strongbow The Goat (Fraser Johnston)
2 Silandra V (Gian Luca Braggiotti)
3 Australian Maid (Dr John Wardill)
Class 3
1 Windsikher (Sarab Jeet Singh)
2 Foxy Lady V (Bill Bremner)
3 Katsu (Ben Copley)
Class 4
1 Mat Salleh (Neil Anckorn)
2 NiJinsky (Jeff Harris)
3 Skybird (John Kara)
Class 5
1 Fortissimos 8 (Fuda Yasuto)
2 Rascal (Gavin Welman)
3 Odin (Michael Dreyer)
Class 6
1 Eveline (Dato Richard Curtis)
2 Kay Sira (Barry Wickett)
3 Musytari (Royal Malaysian Navy, Noor Hafizam)

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