The long title may be a little hard to chew, but the crews of the 36 boats entered for this year’s combination of passage and inshore races along the west coast of Malaysia are going to find that there’s a lot more to chew on than a string of words.
‘The Raja Muda’ is Asia’s one-of-a-kind event, taking off on a 110nm coastal race from Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur) to Pulau Pangkor, then on to Penang where a day’s cans racing gets thrown into the mix before another passage race north to Langkawi and one last day’s inshore racing in the breathtaking environs of the archipelago that calls itself ‘The Jewel of Kedah’.
Passage races start around midday, so inevitably even the fastest boats finish in the small hours. For some it will be an overnighter – followed by scant time for recuperation before the next day’s start. The energy levels become heavily taxed after a couple of days of this, possible depleted further by the socials and prizegiving parties along the way, not to mention a Rickshaw Race Meeting in Penang for good measure. More than one weary competitor has been heard to ask 'what day is it?' as the week draws on, and experienced hands fully understand that this is a series of sprints that very quickly becomes a marathon.
Sailing conditions along the western seaboard of Malaysia are unpredictable, to say the least. Take your BuoyWeather, PredictWind and GRIB files and treat with extreme caution – or ignore. What we can confidently predict is that the weather will be hot, often wet, sometimes very wet, occasionally blowy and often light. Even the official met people, Weather Routers International have expressed some puzzlement at the patterns they have been observing, saying, 'it seems to come from all over the place.' Welcome to the world of the Raja Muda, where a quick eyeball up (and down) the race course on a regular schedule is as good an analysis system as any.
There will also be fishing nets – the closer inshore you sail, the higher the chance of becoming entangled – and on the run in to the Penang finish there are the shifting sands of the notorious Kra Bank with which to contend. Port tack, both eyes on the depth gauge, and go about as late as you dare in order to minimise the mileage around the top end of the bank. A navigator’s delight, or nightmare, depending on your idea of fun. The Raja Muda used to call itself ‘Asia’s Most Tactical Regatta’ and in terms of coastal navigation that’s probably a fair call.
This year the management have introduced a number of departures from the well-established running order. Tonight’s Opening Dinner will take place at the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, but the most part of the fleet is already moored at Pulau Indah Marina instead of in the less-than-idyllic Klang River. Tomorrow’s start line for the trip to Pangkor will be near the southern entrance to Port Klang, with the fleet leaving the Angsa Bank to starboard as they sail north. At the other end of the regatta, the fleet will finish the Penang-Langkawi Race near Rebak and then be accommodated in Telaga Harbour – a change of scenery from the previous location at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club.
Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2012 - Australian Maid (l) and Antiposed head for Langkawi - © Guy Nowell / RMSIR Click Here to view large photo
There are 36 names on the entry list. Five of the seven boats in Class 1 have been here before – Utarid (Royal Malaysian Navy), Foxy Lady VI (Bill Bremner), KukuKERchu (David Ross), EFG Bank Mandrake (Burns/Kinmonth), and the evergreen HiFi/Neil Pryde combo. First-timers are Sarab Jeet Singh’s Sydney 40, Windsikher, and an entirely unknown quantity in Takhovski Alexey’s straight-out-of-the-box Farr 400OD, Lero 3. This evening the KukuKERchus were claiming bragging rights for having a 1/3–ladies crew, but they have been challenged in the gender stakes by Simon Piff’s Rainbow Dream (see below). David Ross has brought in Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, recent winners of the Rolex Sailors of the Year Awards, to bolster the team. Watch this space.
Dr John Wardill’s Australian Maid (Class 2) has done the trip so many times that the boat does its own navigation. Having been beaten to the Jugra Cup by the Maid in the very last race last year, Antipodes (Geoff Hill) will be keen to make amends. Also in the Premier Cruising class is Peter Cremer’s new and very silky-looking Shahtoosh. Her predecessor was a winner of this division, so Cremers and crew have a reputation to maintain. Brian Pozzey’s Sailing Adventures was formerly Baby Tonga. Watch this space.
Class 3 comprises only three boats, but is sure to provide some entertainment. Jon Cray’s Sea Bass used to be La Samudra, and Gordon Ketelbey has changed the name of Ichiban to Fujin. They have both done the trip from Klang to Langkawi before, so roll the dice now, and watch this space. Only Brian de Vries’s Steele de Breeze is a Raja Muda virgin.
Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2013. Bryan Willis, IJ; Malcolm Elliott, Regatta Director; Jerry Rollin, PRO. - © Guy Nowell / RMSIR Click Here to view large photo
The bulk of the numbers come in classes 5, 6 and 7, and enthusiastic followers of the Raja Muda will see some familiar names ther (Eveline, Chantique, Rainbow Dream and last year’s C5 winner Lady Bubbly, among others). Peter Wilcox has brought his Mojo back to chase another Multihull title. Watch this space.
This afternoon it was strangely quiet down at the Pulau Indah Marina. Those well accustomed to lounging on the RSYC balcony and watching the frenetic preparations on the pontoons below might have wondered whether a change of departure venue has occasioned a change of pre-departure behaviour? There seemed to be nobody in last-minute-prep mode. PRO Jerry Rollin delivered his well-honed 'It’s all in the SIs' speech at the Skipper’s Briefing, and was answering questions in a fully fit manner (the answer is always the same – it’s all in the SIs). The members of the media (sometimes known as The Gentlemen of the Press) found that the internet connection at the Marina were better than at the hotel in which they were lodged. Peace and gentility prevailed. But watch this space.
And so back to the Royal Selangor Yacht Club for the Official Opening Party, a traditionally lavish affair attended by a plethora of VIPs and dignitaries, including Vice Admiral Ahmad Puzi of the Malaysia Maritim who cheerfully welcomed all competitors and presented them with memento plaques for their attendance. When the exotic dancers had dispersed themselves, the toasts drunk, and the ‘hello-agains’ had been said, it was time to for the fleet to get down to the serious business of readying for tomorrow. Watch this space.
Next year marks the 25th running of this remarkable event. It’s vintage stuff, but for now let’s concentrate on 24. First start, 1200hrs. Watch this space.
More info and results on the Raja Muda Selangor Int. Regatta at: http://www.rmsir.com
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia
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3:06 AM Sat 16 Nov 2013GMT
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