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Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2019: Pangkor to Penang Race.

by Guy Nowell, 19 Nov 2019 17:16 PST 16-23 November 2019
The leaders clear the point. Windsikher, Team Hollywood, Antipodes. Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2019 © Guy Nowell / RMSIR

1300h starts at Pulau Pangkor can be just as windless as coming out of Port Klang, but yesterday was an exception. After a glass-calm view from the beach, another cup of coffee seemed like a good idea, but the breeze came in just as the fleet was leaving the anchorage and by the appointed time there was 8-10kts from the west to send all divisions away on time.

The majestic Rona rather looked as if she wasn’t competing, but woke up at her warning signal and made sail. The first call leaving Pangkor is whether to head for the shore or go out to sea: Eveline set off in the direction of Sumatra, and the big boats went the other way, picking up a lift around the end of the island, and pointing straight at the Penang finish mark.

All was plain sailing until 1930h when a powerful squall descended on the fleet. By this time the leading boats (Team Hollywood, Windsikher, Antipodes) were away and running in a three-boat pack that stayed together all the way to the finish line. Just behind, and chasing hard, were Ramrod, Uranus, and The Next Factor. Those six boats escaped in front of the storm, but the remainder caught a broadside, and 90 minutes later were left wallowing in no breeze at all, drifting back towards Pangkor on the tide. Insanity kedged – for about five minutes. VG Offshore thought about it. Eveline, Tofan and Rona, ‘declared’ at the first gate and motored the rest of the way, leaving the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Marikh to sail all the way and into first place in the Classic division.

Class 1 (IRC Racing) was a story in two parts: Team Hollywood (Ray Roberts) and Windsikher (Sarab Jeet Singh/Nick Burns) were joined at the hip, with Antipodes (Class 2 Premier Cruising, Geoff Hill) in the leading pack and keeping them honest. Navigator Alan ‘Guilty’ Tilyer reported “it was a port tack all the way, with a bit of a knock and a brief 25kts blow at the top of the course. We flopped over onto starboard and laid the finish line. Just one tack and one sail change for the whole race” Having kept close company all the way up the track, only 8 minutes separated the three boats on the finish line.

Next along the track: a small group consisting of Uranus, The Next Factor, Ramrod, and a very similar story. For everyone else it was rather different. The squall hit the remaining 20 boats in the fleet, coming off the coast 20nm up the track, packing more than 35kts of breeze and causing several shades of havoc. Boats veered away and ran before the storm, which was short lived. And then… nothing. The fleet was left drifting in current back towards Pangkor, practicing patience until the coastal breeze re-established itself.

After that, it was business as usual, but the squall re-arranged the fleet somewhat. And there was another treat in store – a windless hole right in front of the finish line, making it a very long night for some. Boats were trickling in to the Straits Quay Marina until 11.00 on Tuesday morning, and Healey Mac’s was doing a good trade in late breakfasts and early lunches!

Additional entertainment in the afternoon was the traditional Rickshaw Racing event. Many people have suggested that this should count in the racing series, which would certainly alter the overall scores somewhat! This year’s champion was the classic Rona, after a hard-fought series of races that had more names in the entry list than we have seen for many a long year. It’s a long way to run for a bottle of whisky!

Standing by on 72.