‘Blowing old boots’ yesterday, but come this morning the boots had all been blown off and so had the socks too. A steady 23+ kts and plenty of white water was driving down Bass Harbour to greet the fleet for the last day of racing at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta. Can anyone remember five straight days of full-on blow in the last 12 years? The oft-used phrase at Asian regattas is 'it wasn’t like this last week', meaning that the wind has fizzed and 'it isn’t usually like this.' This time it has been the other way round, with the 44-strong RLIR fleet enjoying more than they expected and in some cases even more than they might have wanted!
RO Simon James tried repeatedly to get the Committee Boat’s anchor to stick. In the end, after a full hour of trying, the hook took and Racing division went away on a windward leeward course in almost 25kts of northeasterly. All Peter Ahern’s Oi! wanted was a third place or better to round out the ten-race series, and after that they would be unbeatable for the series.
In the big breeze, Jelik had the advantage, and rocketed to a win, white water arcing out from under her bows on the run, using all 75’ of waterline to track steadily upwind, and shouldering off the short choppy swell. Adam Minoprio has been on board Jelik this week, and Frank Pong reports that the WMRT and VOR veteran has been 'invaluable. He has been showing new and better ways of doing manoeuvres, and we are getting round the corners faster and faster.' Jelik took the first race.
'All through the race we were looking very carefully at our rather old mainsail, nursing it in the heavy breeze. And sure enough the top batten pocket gave up the ghost at the end – there really wasn’t another race in it', said Peter Ahern. But second was good enough, and the Oi! crew decided that discretion was the better part of valour and coasted back to the marina, leaving Jelik to score another bullet in the final race of the regatta.
Bill Bremner and the Foxy Lady boys had their series zipped up yesterday, but were out on the water all the same. Some slick boat and spinnaker handling got them round the track fast enough for an eighth win from nine races, with Anthony Root’s Red Kite II still hot on their heels and never letting up the pressure for a moment. Foxy Lady took a bow for the last race, letting Kite step up for a bullet in the last race. Game, set, match and congratulations to Bremner & Co on an exceptionally well-sailed regatta, and three cheers for the Red Kites for a spirited and relentless competition.
After eight straight wins so far, Phoenix (Niels Degenkolw) dropped a stitch this morning, beaten for the only time in the regatta, by Orion Pacific. But with nine wins on the board and nine races to count, the Phoenixes could afford to give one away – but they still won the very last race, too!
Back at the marina, Peter Ahern was looking very happy as he hoisted aloft the Prime Minister’s Trophy for the fourth time – even if the last time was back in 2005. 'I really like this regatta,' he said, 'and have very happy memories from when we used to compete here in the early 2000s. It has always been a well-organised regatta, and it’s the right size – not too big. There’s always a good open channel of communication between the regatta management and the competitors. It’s a user-friendly sort of regatta. I used to live in Malaysia, but since I moved to Australia I always knew I’d come back for this event as soon as I found the right boat – which I have. Oi! will be based in Asia, and we’ll intend to be competing at Top of the Gulf, Koh Samui, Phuket Raceweek and Phuket King’s Cup in 2014, and of course Royal Langkawi 2015!'
Winner of the IRC 1 division, Bill Bremner, said 'I can hardly think why we haven't competed at this regatta before - the breeze has been fantastic, the scenery around the racing areas is magnificent, and the race management has been exemplary. The RLIR is a truly brilliant advertisement for Langkawi - yes, we'll be back next year.'
Any regatta organiser writing a wish list will probably start with Entries, and then Wind. RLIR 2014 racked up a very respectable 44-boat entry list (see above – Peter Ahern called it 'the right size' -and anyway, just how many more dinner tables can you fit onto the Club’s pool deck, even if you wanted to?) and then artfully arranged to have five days of strong, consistent, world class breeze dropped into the calendar in exactly the right place. That’s a useful trick to know!
Add into the regatta recipe the pleasant environs of Langkawi, the unusual and often spectacular scenery that some of the races pass through and around, the ambience of the RLYC and tip top race management from Simon James and his playmakers, and you’ve got a good event. In one of the Ministerial speeches at a press conference a few days ago mention was made of trying to make the RLIR 'the biggest regatta in Asia' – we say, leave it alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
SHORT RESULTS (full results at www.langkawiregatta.com)
1. Foxy Lady VI
2. Red Kite II
3. Orion Pacific
2. ATM 1
2. My Toy
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia
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10:56 AM Sat 18 Jan 2014GMT
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