If the Royal Langkawi International Regatta is anything to go by, 2012 should be a good year for sailing events in Asia. Five days of good sailing breeze, and ending on a high note this morning with blue skies and sunshine as well – you can’t ask for much more. Cans racing for everyone inside Bass Harbour to wrap up the series. 8-10kts to start, a bit of a lull towards the end of the first race, but then a building breeze that reached 14kts at its peak. After that, 'we knew it was going to fade, but the question was merely when,' said Race Officer Simon James. As it was, he squeezed a third and last w/l race in for the IRC 1 class to bring the dance card up to a full 10 races – just before the breeze started to wobble.
Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan had it pretty much sewn up before the day started, but HiFi (Neil Pryde) wasn’t going to take it lying down. 1,2 and 2,1 each from two races meant that the two big boats nabbed all the first and second places for the regatta. Hooligan finished on 11 points, and HiFi on 15. Having just won his first-ever Asian regatta, and having become only the third person in 10 years to win the RLIR (Peter Ahern 3, Ray Roberts 6) Blackmore was a very happy man at the press conference afterwards. 'You seem to be doing something very right with your events in Asia, and we intend to be competing in more regattas in the region. You have got the sponsors and the media well in tune with what you are doing – heck, when we arrived back at the dock this morning and saw all the cameras waiting for me, I thought I’d won the Sydney-Hobart!'
Andrew Stransky, owner of Fantasia, and winner of the Multihull class with seven wins from seven races, said 'We really like the way you do regattas in Asia… parties, free beer, everything! In Australia we have to pay for our beers, so Fantasia is planning to do some more Asian regattas as well!'
After a ding-dong battle for places with Mata Hari over the last few days, Rick Pointon’s Jing Jing came out on top in IRC 1, having saved the worst – and their discard – for last. There was only one point in it, but that’s enough. The Sportsboats (Platu) division was even tighter at the top, when Singapore Management Univ finished on 10 points after discard, and so did ATM (Malaysian Armed Forces). The latter’s first place today gave them the series on countback – and it was a close race indeed, with the top three boats finishing on four seconds.
The Ocean Rover class started the week with only two boats, but magically expanded to three yesterday and four today with Hennig Lenz’s My Toy and the venerable Warisan Duyong (Thomas Gerard) being joined by the even more venerable Eveline (Dato’ Richard Curtis) and Baiana (Joao Hennings), the latter recording an unusual four DNCs and two DNFs. Need to think about that one…
Club Cruising was the biggest division on the water with 9 boats, and Charles Hay’s Smystery running out the winner in front of Nick Smith’s Free Wind. IRC 2 was no giveaway either, with Niels Degenkolw’s much-campaigned Phoenix finishing one point in front of Skandia Endeavour of Whitby.
Adding a little ‘something extra’ to proceedings was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, and original bestower of the Prime Minister’s Trophy for the IRC Racing (0) class. Tonight’s closing ceremony, prizegiving and dinner will also be attended by the Commodore of the RLYC, Y M Tunku Dato’ Ya’acob bin Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah and RLIR Committee Chairlady Y M Tunku Soraya Dakhlah. The RLYC has an enviable reputation for putting on a 5-star show to close out the regatta - it’s going to be good.
After 10 years, the Royal Langkawi International Regatta looks to be in pretty good shape. 36 boats is not the biggest fleet in the region, but the facilities and organisation that support this event are first class. There are other events in Asia that could take notice of how to roll out an event with a bit of pizzazz and style without compromising the racing. 'The Club’s great; the parties are great; the racing’s great,' said one competitor. What more could you want? Sunshine and breeze? Well, this year RLIR had those too. Here’s to next year – cheers!
Full results: www.langkawiregatta.com