Inaugural Bay Challenge 2011 was organised by TMX Show Productions and held on Marina Bay in Singapore.
The tricky wind conditions of Marina Bay figured prominently in sorting out the champions from the runner's up in the inaugural Bay Challenge as Team Kukukerchu picked all the right wind shifts to storm away to a commanding 2-0 win in the best of three matches final.
The team had advanced to the finals with an equally convincing win over Team Eriksson, one of the top ranked match racing teams in Thailand in the semi finals, also notching up a straight victory.
'We just had to keep the boat rolling all the time and keep it moving through the water, this was the strategy we kept throughout,' says team leader David Ross. Picking the right wind shifts helped them to maintain an unbeaten record throughout the regatta to eventually culminate in their winning the final.
Although predominantly from the south and occasionally backing slightly to the east, the light and shifty airs curving and bouncing off the buildings surrounding the bay meant there were many wind holes and the wind lanes were not as apparent and consistent as in open water. This proved a challenge for first runner up. Team Royal Selangor Yacht Club which led off the line in the first match of the finals only to be caught by Team Kukukerchu just before the final upwind mark where they were left behind on the subsequent downwind run.
'It was an interesting challenge; the winds in here are a little bit flukey but that also makes it interesting and I think the better team won today,' says team leader Rolf Heemskerk. 'It's definitely different than sailing in open water but it's great to sail in a spectacular setting such as this,' he adds.
The battle for third and fourth placing was much closer, with second runner up Team Performance Sail from Keppel Bay Sailing Academy having to fight hard for their position. Lots of scraps in the pre-race manoeuvring hit them with three penalties and an immediate disqualification even before the race started in the first match of the petit final.
In the second match they had to come from behind on the upwind leg to eventually overhaul Team Eriksson on the downwind to take the win and tie the score at 1-1. It was down to the wire in the final match with all to play for and a fast dying wind. Luck was on their side however as the race committee shortened the course just as the last of the wind faded while Team Performance Sail were ahead at the end of the first lap, giving them the final match and the second runner's up position.
The unique race in the midst of Singapore's awe inspiring cityscape drew the admiration and praise of all 12 teams, both local and foreign alike. Organiser TMX Show Productions is encouraged by the response and set for a bigger, better event to return to Marina Bay next year.
'Nobody has ever done match racing in Marina Bay where people can watch from Marina Bay Sands, Fullerton Bay Hotel or even just around the bay. This brings sailing really to the heart of Singapore,' says TMX Show Productions managing director Herman Ho.
Ho added that while the event will be an annual one, he will probably change the date it is run to sometime around January or February to take better advantage of the stronger monsoon winds during that period.
Guest of honour Singapore Sailing CEO Tan Wearn Haw noted the good turnout from both regional as well as local sailors for the event and also expressed thanks to the organisers for taking the initiative to run this unique event in Marina Bay for the first time. He also looked forward to raising the scale and scope of the event next year. Final and Petit final results:
First Place - Kukukerchu (Skipper Jonathan Rankine
Second Place - Royal Selangor Yacht Club (Skipper Rolf Heemskerk)
Third Place - Performance Sail (Skipper Zhang Yong Qiang)
Fourth Place - Eriksson (Skipper Jon Eriksson) Marina Bay website