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30th Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta starts tomorrow

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 14 Nov 21:47 PST 15-23 November 2019
Farewell to the fleet at RSYC. Raja Muda Selangor Internanal Regatta 2018. © Guy Nowell / RMSIR

It's 30 years since His Royal Highness Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah and a small coterie of enthusiastic sailors dreamed up the idea of a regatta consisting of a series of passage races along the west coast of Malaysia from busy Port Klang to idyllic Langkawi, with stops along the way to enjoy the destinations of Pangkor and Penang. The Phuket King's Cup had started in 1987, and there were boats going past, going north. "Why not give them something more interesting to do than simply 'deliver?'.

HRH was at the time the Raja Muda of Selangor - the Crown Prince - and in 1995-96 had completed a circumnavigation of the globe on his Swan 68, Jugra. And so the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta was born. "We thought it would run maybe three or four years," said Sultan Sharafuddin on the occasion of the RMSIR 2014, "and now here we are celebrating 25 years of the event. It's something of which I am very proud."

The Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta is a quirky beast. There's nothing else quite like it in Asia, and possibly the world. Over nine days the fleet will complete three long coastal passage races (Port Klang - Pangkor - Penang - Langkawi) and three days' inshore racing (in Penang and Langkawi). It's a series of sprints, but also a marathon, for there's a social programme par excellence that includes dinners, parties and prizegiving celebrations, and even a series of rickshaw races in Penang. Around about Thursday next week someone will be heard to say, "What day is it today?" The passage races (90nm, 60nm, 45nm) all start at 13.00, meaning that first finishers are almost always in the dark, and the tailenders will race through into the next day, almost too short to institute watches.

Weather conditions along the Malaysian coast are unpredictable, and that's polite. There will be light breezes and flat calms. There will be 40kt rain squalls coming off the coast at twilight that can send a boat from hero to zero in a heartbeat. Or the other way round if you get on the right side of the breeze. There will be fishing boats and nets, and guarding the Penang finish line is the ever-present threat of the Kra Bank, a shifting sand bar that pokes out from the coast past the rhumb line. Deeper draft boats need to go further out to sea to "get around the end", but the end is never in the same place from one year to the next. 'Touch navigation' is the order of the day (or more likely, night) and navigators go cross-eyed watching the depth sounder.

This year the regatta will make a new stop at the Puteri Bayu Beach Resort, Pangkor, overlooking beautiful Pasir Bogok. Race Office at Penang will be the Straits Quay Marina with a gala dinner in the spectacular Khoo Kong Si, and HQ in Langkawi will of course be the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. For regatta organisers, it's a logistical tour de force to move the Race Secretariat from place to place three times - and two of them are on islands, accessed only by ferry. Move the office, move the baggage, set up, break down, and move again. Over the years it has become a well-oiled operation, but it still takes a great deal of application.

The first Raja Muda event was in 1989. The present Raja Muda, HH Tungku Amir Shah, son of HRH Idries Shah, was born in 1990, and will be skippering the Beneteau 44.7, Fujin, a former Class 1 winner of the event. 27 boats will start from Port Klang tomorrow, with two multihulls joining the event from Penang onwards. The defending champion from 2018, Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth's Mandrake III, will not be on the start line, but her skippers will; Burns has joined forces with Sarab Jeet Singh on board Windsikher, and Kinmonth will be travelling in sybaritic luxury on Geoff Hill's Antipodes. Ray Roberts' TP52 Team Hollywood joins Class 1 for yet another crack at the overall title, and two Farr 40s are up for the game too - Gordon Ketelby's Ramrod and Rolf Heemskerk with The Next Factor. It's a strong division at the top of the field, and promises some close results.

The biggest entry is in Class 5, with ten boats of which eight have been here before - either they are gluttons for punishment, or else they too recognise the Raja Muda as probably the most challenging and ultimately rewarding regatta in Asia. First start is from the entrance to the Klang River at 13.00h tomorrow. Tonight's welcoming dinner takes place at the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, where the banner hanging over the balcony reads "May the wind fill your sails, and the beer be cold!"

Next Saturday night will see an extravaganza of a dinner at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, with many past regatta winners in attendance to help celebrate three decades of a regatta started by sailors, for sailors. Is there a better way to do it? To win this event you need to be good, but you also need a drop or two of luck. Let the games begin!

Follow the event on Yellowbrick: http://www.rmsir.com/27a/index.php/results/trackin

Entry List

Class 1 (Raja Muda Trophy) Windsikher Team Hollywood Uranus Ramrod The Next Factor

Class 2 (Jugra Cup) Colie Antipodes

Class 3 Insanity Fujin Farrgo Express Nijinsky Endeavour of Whitby Rainbow Dream

Class 5 Dash Millennium 2 Lady Bubbly Iseulta Destiny 12 VG Offshore Leopad Dream Minx

Class 6 Eveline Tofan Rona Marikh

Class 7 Out of the Blue 2 Java

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