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Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2019: short strokes on the 18th.

by Guy Nowell 26 Nov 02:58 PST 16-23 November 2019
Antipodes, Pulau Jong. Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta 2019. © Guy Nowell / RMSIR

Two days of inshore racing closed out the 30th Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta. On the first day, under grey skies with just the occasional splash of sunshine, the racing classes on windward-leeward courses at the north end of Bass Harbour, and everyone else going south towards the islands.

Really, if you’re going to race in Langkawi, that’s where you want to be. After all, you can race sausages pretty much anywhere, but the limestone cliffs and islands of this archipelago make for world-class scenery, and we like a little something to look at when we’re on the water. Think Phang Nga Bay but over a much smaller area: it’s tailor-made for some round-the-bushes racing. Of course the wind is shifty hereabouts, but that’s just part of the racing puzzle.

It was a race in three parts – first, a brisk clip down the harbour, and some tiptoeing around the rocky outcrops of Pulau Jong and Pulau Singa Kecil, and the delightfully-named Pulau Kentut Besar (Big Fart Island). Last, a beat home in 10 kts of late afternoon breeze. In Class 2, Colie shadowed Antipodes round the track, despite the Antipodeans’ best efforts to wriggle away with some very slick gear shifts (otherwise known as sail changes). Colie hung on for the handicap win, putting herself one point in front of the big blue boat, and raising the prospect of an interesting last race for the Saturday.

Simon Piff and the Rainbow Dreamers (Class 3) scored another two bullets, and are still wondering what it is that they are doing so very right. Lady Bubbly (Class 5) has been here before, and it shows – they also scored two bullets, putting themselves well clear of the rest of the class. Ditto the Royal Malaysian Navy’s diminutive classic, Marikh, a Contessa 32 (Class 6).

Up at the other end of the harbour, the usual suspects (Team Hollywood, Windsikher, The Next Factor) traded places over two races, with Ramrod paying a visit to the podium in the second race. “The Next Factor likes the light and puffy stuff,” opined a crewmember from Windsikher. “They weigh 3.5 tons less than us, and accelerate on a ripple or a sniff.” It didn’t help much today, with TNF scoring two third places – still good enough to keep them on top of the score sheet with points to spare.

Saturday looked very promising, with good breeze at the start time. Today RO Simon James kept Classes 1, 2, and 3 at the top of the harbour, but first sending Classes 5, 6 and the two multihulls (class 7) away south. Starts are often not very snappy in these divisions, with boats heading the wrong way or not in the starting area when the gun goes. Nevertheless, Out of the Blue, crewed by Sea Scouts and Girl Guides, excelled themselves by crossing the start line very late, sideways, hove-to, and making no visible effort to correct their situation. Maybe they were all on their phones?. Out of the Blue please contact us and we will recommend some first class sailing instructors in Malaysia. Collecting second place trophies for coming last in a two-boat race does nobody any credit.

At the north end of Bass Harbour, one windward-leeward race was completed without incident; Team Hollywood carried on from yesterday with another win, but the gap to catch The Next Factor on points was always going to be impossible. Then then the breeze went on holiday. The RO moved the start area further and further towards Kuah in the hope of catching an incoming easterly, and was even heard requesting permission to race “in the ferry area” from the Harbour Master. Last start was scheduled for no later than 14.30h, but it really wasn’t going to happen, and at 14.20 the RO hoisted AP over A and the 30th edition of the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta was over.

Simon Piff, resting between races, was woken by his crew shouting, “We’ve won! We’ve won!” Indeed, Rainbow Dream had won Class 3. “We wanted to enter Class 5, and instead we’ve won Class 3… I’m in shock,” said Piff. “We have been doing this in a pretty casual fashion for (I think) eight years now, but we never thought we’d win anything. We sail the Raja Muda because we love the event. This is more than just the icing on the cake – it’s the gilt on the gingerbread as well. A great week, with a great bunch of friends, and now a class title… unbelievable.”

The marginally curtailed racing programme left The Next Factor with four 1st places and four 3rd, for a total of 16. Next was Ray Roberts’ Team Hollywood, four points behind. There are no discards in the Raja Muda, and coastal races score the same as around-the-cans. Heemskerk is no stranger to the Raja Muda, and is often seen sailing a Platu in the Coronation Cup in Pattaya. A Farr 40 is the same thing as a Platu, but bigger. “It’s pretty nice to take the game to the big oats,” he said. “This is a tough event to win, and you definitely need a little bit of luck, but hard work and concentration counts for a lot, and we had that too.”

It was only a two-horse race in Class 2, Premier Cruising, but Doug Sallis’s Colie (Hanse 575, and all the way from Darwin) took the fight to Geoff Hill’s Antipodes. At close of play it was 9 points all, with the Antipodeans taking the Jugra Cup by virtue of winning the last race.

Further down the order, Lady Bubbly cleaned up Class 5 and the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Marikh never put a foot wrong in Class 6 (Classics). Class 7 was also represented by only two boats – Pete Waa’s Java, and Out of the Blue (Scouts and Guides) which was substantially outclassed, scoring one DNS and two FPA in six races.

After 30 years there is no sign of any diminishment in the Raja Muda. In fact, His Highness the Raja Muda (not to be confused with his father who was Raja Muda in 1989 and is now His Royal Highness the Sultan) skippered the Beneteau 44.5 Fujin, in this regatta, finishing second in Class 3. “It was a great event, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I’d very much like to be sailing again next year, so will have to black out the dates in the diary.” For sure, the Raja Muda fleet would be delighted to welcome His Highness back in 2020, and his presence can only raise the profile of the event – and all sailing events need their profiles adjusted upwards, don’t they?

Regatta Chairman Jeff Harris summed it up very fairly on the closing night. “We had wind and rain on the way to Pangkor, wind and rain on the way to Penang, then hot sunshine and some variable breeze in Penang itself. It was a great race from Penang to Langkawi (once it got started), and we almost got a full card of races here over the last two days. I think that makes it pretty much a classic Raja Muda. It wasn’t easy – nobody said it was going to be easy – but it was hugely enjoyable. Please all come back next year.”

After three decades the event has acquired its own momentum. A great many of the competitors have done it before, and so have the support teams, both on and off the water. Absent this year was perennial RO Jerry Rollin, busy with the SEA Games in Subic Bay and admirably subbed by Simon James. New brooms always do a little sweeping: this time we had virtual finishing lines thanks to Yellowbrick and Malcolm Elliott. A virtual Jury was proposed, but vetoed for the time being: however, there are plenty of people who think that being able to shut down the Jury with a keystroke is a great idea. This proposal will have its day. The weather was remarkably kind. There was one dodgy race in Penang which lasted 1.4nm and 47 minutes, and only one – the very last one – lost in Langkawi.

Once more congratulations are in order to a great many people. Simon James and the Race Management, the huge support from the Royal Malaysian Police and the Navy, Alison Lim’s office team that moved everything and everyone from place to place to place, Zainal’s on-water management. It’s a marathon effort from organisers and competitors alike, and looking very healthy for an event that was expected to last “a couple of years, maybe five.”

The 31st Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta will start from Port Klang on Saturday 14th November 2020. After being there for 17 consecutive editions, Sail-World Asia won’t be missing that. Keep an eye on www.rmsir.com for further announcements, and we look forward to seeing you at the Royal Selangor Yacht Club next year.

Full results for this year's regatta can be found at http://www.rmsir.com/27a/index.php/results

Standing by on 72.

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