|Royal Langkawi International Regatta celebrates a decade of success|
Marcus Blackmore and his Hooligan team joined the only two other crews who have who the Royal Langkawi International Regatta's Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy, those being Peter Ahern, who won the event the first three years it was run, and Ray Roberts who won it the previous six. This year, Hooligan, which chartered the TP52 Team Premier (the King's Cup IRC Zero winner) won seven out of ten races in its first time sailing the RLIR. Gracious in defeat Neil Pryde's Welbourn 52 Hi Fi put up a good fight for second place, but Hi Fi will have to return as the RLIR is the only regatta it has not won on the Asian circuit. Two third places on the final day for the Malaysian Armed Forces DK47 Uranus skippered by Mohamad Razali put it in third overall and sunk Frank Pong's 75ft Reichel Pugh Jelik II down to fourth. The two new Navy DK47s may have been outclassed in this company but the match practice will come in handy when they compete at other regattas against similar-sized yachts.
Heading into the RLIR, Regatta Technical Chairman, Ahmad Zailani Bashah said, "Langkawi is known as a world-class sailing venue with excellent warm weather, the best wind conditions and good tropical waters. The wind speed in January always fluctuates between 8-20 knots and we are sure these wind conditions will continue. The Kuah Harbour race and coastal race always provides two different scenarios for sailors. We have strong wind conditions with flat waters in Kuah Harbour, as well as strong wind conditions with choppy waters in coastal areas. All participants can look forward to a challenging and fascinating sailing experience."
On the last day, racing indeed started at eight knots from the northeast and gradually climbed to fourteen knots which enabled PRO Simon James to complete the schedule of races for all classes. The return of bright sunshine and blue sky bought colour back into the scenery and turned the racing into a photographers' delight.
Three races for the IRC 1 class on the final day bought the tumultuous battle to a natural conclusion. Rick Pointon's J130 Jing Jing won the first race and despite closing with a third and fourth-place it held on for victory to capture the LADA-IRC Challenge Trophy. A gallant effort by Vincent Chan's Titan 36 Mata Hari to race a smaller boat with the bigger 40-footers nearly paid off but it had to settle on second overall just one point shy of the leader. On the last race, Ben Copley's Club Swan 42 Katsu was finally able to convert line honours into a handicap win but comes to late in proceedings and left them trailing in third overall.
All week, Stuart Williamson's Beneteau 34.7 Skandia Endeavour Of Whitby and Niels Degenkolw's IOR 3/4 Ton Xyacht Phoenix had chased each other around the course and ultimately it came down to the wire. In the first race on the final day, John Kara's Dehler 10.6m Skybird came to the fore leaving Degenkolw's Phoenix in second and Williamson's Skandia Endeavour Of Whitby in third. A loud cry of victory came from Phoenix as they crossed the finish line, but PRO Simon James informed them there was another race. This time Williamson's Skandia Endeavour Of Whitby made no mistake and struck back with first place. As a nervous Degenkolw's crew on Phoenix slotted in behind them for second place they managed to keep hold of the overall lead and still defend the IRC 2 title to validate their early celebration. First and third place finishes on the day for John Kara's Skybird was enough to put it in third overall.
The hotly-contested Sportsboat Class came down to the last 100 metres; coming into the final race Christopher Lim's Singapore Management University (SMU) held a slender one-point-lead over Mohd. Masyuri B Rahmat's Malaysian Armed Forces. On the long downwind Lim's SMU was in close quarters with Khairul Nizam Mohd Afendy Malaysian Yachting Association/KFC and Rahmat's MAF trailed well behind. After rounding the mark a tight match racing tacking duel between the leaders allowed Masyuri's MAF to close in. All three rounded the top mark together and went gybe for gybe to the finish. After the last gybe, Lims SMU held halfa- boat length lead and the windward berth. A little extra coaxing and picking up a little wave saw Masyuri's MAF surge ahead as they crossed the line with the bow just ahead. The win tied the two teams on 10 points and on count back Masyuri's MAF took victory and the Langkawi Sports Trophy by having the same number of wins and more second places than Lim's SMU, which picked up the consolation prize for winning the Under 25 trophy. Khairul Nizam Mohd Afendy MYA/KFC ended up third overall.
Not content with already clinching the Multihull Class, Andrew Stransky's Fantasia went out and added two more wins to make it seven in a row and run away with the Malaysian Multihull Challenge Cup in their first attempt. Two second places for Grenville Fordham's 11.6m Andaman Cabriolet Niña kept them in second overall but Nina had to surrender the title it had won two years in a row. Although James Wilding Dufour - Nautitech 475 Mind The Gap finished up with two fourth places on the final day, it had done enough in the earlier races to maintain third overall.
In the Club Cruiser Class, Nicholas Smith's Ericson 38 Free Wind fought back into contention to be within one point of Charles Hay's Jeanneau 45 Smystery on the final day. As the 10-knot wind strength suited both boats this put pressure on both skippers to produce. Getting a good start put Charles Hay's Smystery slightly ahead, a spot they maintained till the finish and by correcting out less than a minute in front of Smith's Free Wind, they were able to defend the title and took home the RLYC Commodore's Cup again. With the tussle going on in front Gavin Welman's Hallberg-Rassy 53 Rascal ducked and weaved their way into third overall.
Henning Lenz 10.36m My Toy returned to form and triumphed over his adversaries in the final race to win the Ocean Rover Class. Second place on the final day went to Datuk Richard Curtis' 100-yearold Bristol Pilot Cutter Eveline, but contesting in only two races left them in third overall. Third place for Thomas C Gerard's Terengganu built Warisan Duyong and competing all regatta has them finishing in second overall.
This year the Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship Award, in honour of the memory of the founding Chairman and first RLYC Commodore Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah, was won by Jelik II. Skippered by Frank Pong, they were singled out for their sportsmanship qualities and determination shown throughout the regatta. The winner was picked by nominations submitted by the participating skippers and crew each day throughout the regatta. While there were a standard criteria and list of qualities to be looked out for by all participants the winning team was picked on pure sportsmanship qualities and not race results or management.
An Estonian basketball player visiting his sister in Langkawi heard about the regatta and came down to the club to see if he could join in somehow. Short on crew Grenville Fordham invited him on Andaman Cabriolet Niña and when we ran into him at the second night's party he was elated to be here, has met many new people and glad he got involved with the sailing activity. Best holiday he has ever had
Summing up, the Rear Commodore of the RLYC and Chairperson of Regatta Advisory Committee Y.M. Tunku Soraya Dakhlah binti Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah said, "The regatta complements the government's effort in positioning Langkawi as one of the world's most widely recognized islands and tourist destination under the Langkawi Five-Year Tourism Development Master Plan". The islands duty-free status will go a long way in achieving thatr target.
(Source: Captain Marty's Asian Yachting News) http://www.langkawiregatta.com