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RLIR 2010- HiFi leads after slow start to regatta

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 13 Jan 2010
Royal Langkawi International Regatta 2010. Katsu. Guy Nowell
Langkawi is a stunningly beautiful place to hold a regatta, and the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club is a fabulous venue to host a Grand Prix event. This year’s regatta – the 8th – enjoys the support of Tourism Malaysia as well as the Malaysian national oil company, Petronas, as well as Corum Watches, making up the sort of supporting cast that every regatta needs. Venue: tick. Organising Club: tick. Sponsors: tick.

The fleet numbers are a little down for the 2010 show – blame the economic recession, blame anything you like, but some sailors have noted that the calendar is pretty full at this time of year, and it is just possible that taking a week off immediately after the Christmas season is not do-able for everyone. The Royal Langkawi International Regatta is timed to catch the boats going south towards the Singapore Straits Regatta (25-30 January) after December’s Phuket King’s Cup. That seems perfectly logical - after all, the Raja Muda was started (21 years ago) in order to catch the boats going north to the King’s Cup in November, and that certainly worked! But there’s still that matter of a very full programme…

The Racing Division this year is being contested by Neil Pryde’s HiFi (but without Pryde himself on board), Frank Pong’s Jelik II (aka Boracay), Ray Roberts’ TP52 Evolution Racing, and one of the Malaysian Navy’s Farr 520s, Zuhal, skippered by Ishak Jab.

A rather oddly-named Premier Cruising division has three competitors in the shape of Katsu (Ben Copley), Mata Hari (Vincent Chan) and the boat formerly known as Jaywalker, now Koull Baby (Peter Wintle) – and with the previous owner, Paul Bankowsi making a guest appearance. “I love sailing other people’s boats,” said Bankowski last night, “it’s so much less stressful than being an owner.” And we really aren’t sure that Katsu and Koull Baby constitute cruising boats… Last year’s IRC 1 champion, Mike van Zyl’s Jandi, is back to defend her title, and and is joined in the division by Niels Degenkolw’s always-well-sailed X ¾ tonner Phoenix.

The Sportsboats division consists of five Platus, snappily named Royal Malaysian Navy 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 – but one of them is in fact an Australian crew (Curtis Skinner), and another is chartered by Christopher Lim from Singapore. Multihull Racing (3 entries), Club Cruising (3), and the Ocean Rovers (3) make up the rest of the entries.

So, add ‘Racing Fleet’ to the tick list.

But there’s one more thing you need to get a regatta away and running, and that’s some wind. At 0930 hrs on Monday Race Officer Mark Pryke was all wound up to fire guns in the middle of Bass Harbour, but on the media boat Capt Marty’s cigarette smoke was going straight up.

Several race crews were spotted taking refuge under cockpit awnings, and any boat actually moving had to running an engine – probably just to get some air across the deck. But fortune favours the brave, as well as those that go far enough down Bass Harbour in search of breeze, and at 1100 hrs HiFi slipped gently over the start line to start a classic slow-mo that eventually had Evolution Racing slip round the last top mark inside Jelik II and hook into enough puff to send her down the run for Line Honours by 13 seconds and a handicap win. It was a slow day for everyone, but enough breeze arrived to allow a second race, although there were a lot of very hot and bothered sailors arriving on shore in the late afternoon.

Regatta SIs allow for racing outside Bass Harbour as well as inside, and racing for day 2 was scheduled to be to the east of the Langkawi archipelago. The RO cheerfully predicted that on Tuesday the wind would blow in Bass Harbour and he’d be looking at a millpond, but was (no doubt) delighted to be proved wrong. It was hot and still at the RLYC, but there was 12-15 kts of good solid breeze on the racecourse. Notable incidents included a start line collision in the Club Cruising class, and Evolution Racing’s hooking up on the anchor line of the top mark, costing then 9 minutes in disentangling time.. “We cleared the mark by maybe 5 metres” reported our on-board source, Capt Finn. “And it was only after we had gone round it that we realised that we had caught the line.” (Redress has been requested, and the Jury sits tomorrow). After four races out of a 9-race series Hi Fi is at the top of the table in the Racing division, and Ben Copley’s Katsu is walking away with the Premier Cruising division.

There will be another change of racecourse tomorrow as a ‘Round the Island’ race (well, some of the islands, anyway) is scheduled. Langkawi has some spectacular scenery to offer, and – weather permitting – we look forward to bringing you an image-heavy update on Wednesday.

For full results, go to the RLIR website:

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