RLIR 2011 – with 46 entries, the ninth running of this regatta starts today. Regatta Director Ahmad Zailani ‘Zack’ Bashah is very pleased with the increase in numbers, and welcomes four Hobie 16 catamarans making their debut this year. The underlying aim of this event has always been to provide competitive and enjoyable racing for all crews, irrespective of the design or vintage of their yachts. Since the regatta started, the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces have always been very supportive, and by registering three yachts (Navy 1 in the Sports class, Zuhrah in the Racing class, and Musytari in Club Cruising) this year is no exception.
Crews on the six high-tech racing yachts have arrived early and are conducting new sail measurements as part of their ongoing optimisation programme, and shaking off the excesses from the festive season in preparation for racing. Once again Neil Pryde's custom Welbourn 52 Hi Fi and Ray Roberts’ TP52 Evolution Racing will be going head to head but stiff competition is expected to come from Frank Pong's 75ft Reichel Pugh Jelik II and Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns’ Mills 51 EFG Bank Mandrake, despite the fact that this is their debut in Langkawi. Tiffany Koo is taking over the skipper’s role on Pong's TP52 Jelik V and Ishak Jab is in charge of the Malaysian Armed Forces Farr 520 Zuhrah and expects all the recent training at the navy base in Lumut to bear fruit on this occasion. Ray Roberts has now won the Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy five times in a row and must start as favourite to repeat the performance.
Close and exciting racing is expected from the thirteen yachts registered in the IRC Class competing for the LADA-IRC Challenge Trophy. The class is further subdivided into two IRC classes based on size and rating bands. Last year in IRC 1 Ben Copley's Club Swan 42 Katsu led the standings until the last race, when Peter Wintle's Kerr 11.3 Koull Baby tied on points and picked up the series. Foreign entries include Rick Pointon's 13m Jing Jing representing China, and Makoto Uematsu's Japanese chartered Titan 36 Mata Hari. A big threat will come from David Ross' Kerr 32 Kukukerchu who have cleaned up at all regattas they have entered so far. In IRC 2 Niels Degenkolw's IOR 3/4 Ton X-Yacht Phoenix won last year by a country mile. Neil Ankcorn's Farr 1104 Mat Salleh has scored top placings at Asian events before.
Nine international teams are racing in the Sportsboats’ one design Platu 25s, and competing for the Langkawi Sports Trophy. The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron are the defending champions, narrowly taking the title from Royal Malaysian Navy 1 last year.
After a small reshuffle the Ocean Rovers have been reserved for the classic old girls in the fleet. At 19m James Morris Sirius 1935 is the biggest and Henning Lenz 10.36m My Toy is the smallest. The 100 year old Bristol Pilot Cutter Eveline skippered by Trevor Richards and all the way from Holland Jelle C Mann's 13.10m Saipin round out the fleet.
A special Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship Award in memory of the Founding Chairman and first RLYC Commodore Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah will be presented to the best team, both on water and land, to be voted on by regatta participants.
A combination of harbour and ‘outside’ courses will be used over the four days of racing.
Wednesday morning bulletin at 0840h: no breeze as yet, and an AP flag on shore.