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The Borneo International Yachting Challenge
Written by Administrator    Thursday, 20 November 2014 10:29    PDF Print E-mail
The Borneo International Yachting Challenge The Borneo International Yachting Challenge The Borneo International Yachting Challenge Background

The Borneo International Yachting Challenge (BYIC), the first truly international yachting event in the waters off Borneo, is a joint effort of the two Malaysia Borneo states, Sarawak and Sabah, and the Federal Territory of Labuan, organized under the auspices of the Malaysian Yachting Association.

First held in 2003 to promote regional marine and sporting tourism in the East Malaysian states and open up the South China Sea as a cruising destination, the Borneo International Yachting Challenge has grown in stature and fostered the growth of marinas to serve these communities. The BIYC averages 20 boats from all over the world, with yachts coming from as far as St Vincent to compete.

The overall winner of the Borneo International Yachting Challenge trophy is the boat with the least accumulated corrected times from the Miri Bay Regatta, the Miri-Labuan Passage Race, the Labuan Harbour Regatta, Labuan-Kota Kinabalu Passage Race, and the KK Bay Regatta (IRC class only).

Leading authorities lending support to the event are the Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism Sarawak, the Sarawak Tourism Board, the Labuan Corporation and the Sabah Tourism Board, while Miri Marina, Labuan Marina and Sutera Harbour were the hosting marinas.

This year

Sixteen yachts gathered at Miri Marina in Sarawak, though ten more registered, and after sailing harbour races in Miri, they raced to duty-free Labuan and then onto Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. This year, the BYIC hooked up with Sail Malaysia - Passage to the East Rally, so the bulk of the entries were cruising yachts joining for some friendly racing.

The Racing Class featured Troy Yaw's all- Malaysian Team on his TP52 Ulumulu skippered by Jeremy Koo; the Malaysian Armed Forces DK47 Uranus skippered by Norhafisam Bin Ahmed; Leonard Chin's Custom 46 Ulumulu (Team Sabah) and the much smaller Runnalls 8 Miri Magic 2 skippered by Sabagar from the Kota Kinabalu Navy base (Btw, the Ulumulu Team Sabah boat was taken Downunder a few years back to be modified so that Ariffin Abul Aziz could solo circumnavigate the globe on it – unfortunately that never happened).

The Borneo International Yachting Challenge

A wide variety of yacht designs was evident among the Cruising and Multihull Class entries. The bulk came from Australia, with representatives from South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, USA, UK, Holland and Malaysia, making up an interesting fleet vying for the valuable prizes and a testament that this region's tropical beauty is attracting yachting tourism by the boatload.

After the Miri Bay Race and welcoming party, the 120nm Miri-Labuan Passage Race took the yachts north, through a maze of Brunei offshore oil platforms with blazing flares in the South China Sea before they reached duty-free Labuan for another round of harbour races and celebrations.

Starting Out

After a short delay for the wind to reach five knots, PRO Prakash Reddy fired off the starting sequence to get the 2014 regatta underway. The four racing class yachts were joined by another 8m boat Miri Magic 1 for the Miri Bay Race. Although Troy Yaw's TP52 Team Ulumulu led the racing class around the course, its wide beam is a bit sticky in the light breeze and it tumbled down the order to 4th place, when the IRC handicap was applied. Next in-line to finish, the Malaysian Armed Forces DK47 Uranus, was one-and-half-minutes behind Team Ulumulu but suffered the same fate, ending up in second place. A further thirteen minutes off the pace, Leonard Chin's Custom 46 Ulumulu (Team Sabah) settled on third place but the much smaller Runnalls 8 Miri Magic 1, skippered by Measurer Dave Richards, with two local crew expertly cruised around the course to snatch victory (This class could have been called the Troy Haw class as 4 of the boats racing in it belonged to him.)

Unfortunately only a few Cruisers and Multihulls ventured out onto the course, as they were crewed by husband and wife teams and more suited to longer passage races. This led to only one boat finishing correctly in each class and the rest either ran out of time or retired.

Barry and Jerrie Bateman's Valiant 40 New World took the honours in Cruising A and David Walker's Trident 40 Fortuna of Tamar triumphed in Cruising B. It was a similar story in the Multihull Class, where Sjoerd Klass' Verrheust 56 Isis led by the proverbial mile and got within 30 meters of the finish line, when the wind died and left them with no alternative other than start the engine and retire. This left John Six's Nautitec 43 Azura patiently holding on to claim first place.

Heavy rain overnight, spurred on by a strong Southwesterly wind produced a two-metre swell and some concern among the cruising skippers, "to go or not to go". By start time conditions had moderated leaving an uncomfortable seaway, with 8 to 10 knots tending to veer to the East. Undeterred, PRO Prakash Reddy and the race committee set the start line and went into sequence, as the sky cleared the race was on in earnest - Labuan or bust! The four IRC racers carefully hoisted spinnakers with varying degrees of success and never looked back. The cruisers held back and it wasn't clear whether the starters were late for Class A or early for Class B. Finally, it was the Multihulls' turn and another subdued approach, as most boats were sailing twohanded and the two- metre swell made it difficult to set sails and stay onboard.

During his welcoming speech Troy Yaw, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, said "Promoting the sport of sailing is important to the local community. Whether it's the kids in Optimist dinghies vying for places at regional games or the turbulent world of big boat racing, Malaysians have raised their game and worked very hard at competing at an international level. In the beginning, it was mostly foreign crews here but if you look around the room it is now over 50% local Malaysian sailors rubbing shoulders with the visitors."

The Borneo International Yachting Challenge

An hour after the start it was reported that Troy Yaw's TP52 Team Ulumulu skippered by Jeremy Koo went roaring along at 15 knots and made quick time of the passage to Labuan.

Despite persistent trouble with the spinnaker tack, Team Ulumulu averaged 10 knots over the 105 nautical mile course, to finish in 10 hours 10 minutes and slash 4 hours off the previous fastest time between the two ports, set by Ray Roberts on the old Ulumulu in 2005. Clocking up to 15 knots boat speed from the Miri start to the Brunei border then reaching with a consistent 10 to 15 knot Northeasterly gave them the perfect conditions to set the fastest elapsed time. One-and-a-half hours later Uranus crossed the finish line and was forced to settle for second place. A further one-hourand- forty-two minutes passed before Ulumulu (Team Sabah) breasted the line to claim third place.

There was enough wind for most the Cruisers and Multihulls to sail all the way. The battle of the Amel 53s erupted in the Cruising A Class. Eventually, David and Jacqui Pemberton's Jackster got the better of Paraic Omaoilruada's sister ship Saoleile to score the daily double. Peter and Elizabeth Zielinski's Adams 45 Desert Rose looked good to start with but declaring 30 minutes motoring time dropped them to third place and behind the boats that sailed all the way.

Michael and Janice Johnson's FWM 39 Zoa and Chris Zingler's Brewer 44 Amulet were within sight of each other for the entire race until Chris took a nap and his wife took over, allowing Johnson's Zoa to pull away and claim the daily double. As the breeze was up and down for the back markers, Hans Berekoven's John Pugh 18m Southern Sun claimed a distant third place after eight hours of motoring.

Still mulling over the Miri Bay Race disappointment, Sjoerd Klass' Verrheust 56 Isis made the most out of the fresh breeze, to well and truly blitz the Multihull fleet. Almost five hours later, John Six's Nautitec 43 Azura crossed the finish line for second place but being the sole finisher in Race 1 became the overall leader. Suffering from a horizon job, Chris Wood and Lyn Nichols' Light Wave 38 Out of the Blue 11 had to motor for over three hours through the light spots to end up in third place.

Next up was the Labuan Harbour races, followed by a welcome dinner and prize presentation at the Billion Waterfront Hotel.

A late start due to the flag off by YB Datuk Lee Kim Shin, meant the yachts arrived an hour late at the starting area, just as the morning breeze started to wane. No cruising boats bothered to race, which left the four racing class yachts and two of the eight multihulls preparing to go through the motions. As the race progressed it turned into a drift-a-thon and after one and a half laps, the racing class was shortened and as the two multihulls were showing all zero's on the dials, they retired back to the marina.

The Borneo International Yachting Challenge

Team Ulumulu led around the course but the Malaysian Armed Forces DK47 Uranus was close behind and when the IRC handicaps were applied Uranus came out on top by one-and-half minutes and held onto the overall Racing Class lead. Over an hour later, Leonard Chin guided his Custom 46 Ulumulu (Team Sabah) across the line for third place. As the Runnalls 8 Miri Magic 2 skippered by Sabagar from the Kota Kinabalu Navy Base, refused to take fourth place being offered by PRO Prakash Reddy, they ran out of time and scored a "did not finish" instead. After a lengthy wait, a light sea breeze arrived and another race attempted but had to be abandoned as the breeze faded away.

The Borneo International Yachting Challenge

Sjoerd Klass' Verrheust 56 Isis and John Six's Nautitec 43 Azura were the only Multihull starters and as they struggled on the first leg to maintain height and eventually speed both called it a day and retired for some duty-free shopping.

The next day, the 67nm Labuan to Kota Kinabalu Passage Race had a 9am start in an effort to complete the race in daylight. With the wind pitching in at 12 to 18 knots and a spinnaker run all the way, Troy Yaw'sTP52 Team Ulumulu, averaged slightly over 12 knots for the 86-mile Labuan to Kota Kinabalu Passage Race. In doing so, they scored the daily double, but it took half the race before they could shake off the Malaysian Armed Forces K47 Uranus skippered by Norhafisam Bin Ahmed. In the end, it was a little over 8 minutes that separated them on corrected time and Team Ulumulu was rapidly closing in on the point score, but Uranus still held the overall lead.

Although Leonard Chin's Custom 46 Ulumulu (Team Sabah) and Lt Mohd Hani's Runnalls 8 Miri Magic 2 were outclassed by the leaders, it did not stop them from having their own battle. On this occasion, Miri Magic 2 came with the new wind from behind, five miles from the finish line to jump up into third place and relegate Ulumulu (Team Sabah) to fourth in their home waters (Interestingly, Miri Magic 1 was built in Pattaya by Bill Gasson and then Troy Haw bought and shipped the mould to Langkawi where it was his intention to build six more, unfortunately Miri Magic2 was the only to be built there).

Owen and Jessica Jenschke's Wright 14m Malaika was the only starter in Cruising A and naturally secured the win. A unique situation existed whereby three boats shared the lead on 15 points, each boat having scored one win and failed to compete in any of the other races. Whoever went out on the final day could be the overall winner.

Micheal and Janice Johnson's FWM 39 Zoa and Hans Berekoven's John Pugh 18m Southern Sun seemed to be the only serious racers in Cruising B and finished one-two and hold those spots in the overall stakes.

Initially John Six's Nautitec 43 Azura corrected out in front of Sjoerd Klass' Verrheust 56 Isisbut a dispute over using the motor has arisen and being sorted by the International jury.

As there needs to be six races before the drop race can be introduced, the Racing Class conducted two races today, to catch up with the schedule that lagged behind with no wind during the Miri and Labuan Harbour races.

After the morning attempt was abandoned due to a lack of wind, the Westerly breeze arrived and when it reached 8 knots, the four racing class yachts returned to sea for a couple windward/leeward races.

Scoring two wins out of two races, and after the drop race was introduced, the Malaysian Armed Forces DK47 Uranus had a one-point lead over second placed Troy Yaw's TP52 Team Ulumulu coming into the final day. Well down the points, Leonard Chin's Custom 46 Ulumulu (Team Sabah) had a one-point advantage over Lt Mohd Hani"s Runnalls 8Miri Magic 2, so all the podium spots were still up for grabs on the final day.

Troy Yaw's TP52 Team Ulumulu was very determined to improve their round-the - cans performance and clinch the cup, but the Malaysian Armed Forces DK47 Uranus skippered by Norhafisam Bin Ahmed stayed on pace to win both races on the final day and claimed overall victory in front of their home crowd.

A start line incident rattled Team Ulumulu in the first race and a tactical error on the second race deprived them from advancing beyond second overall. On the provisional results, Lt Mohd Hani"s Runnalls 8 Miri Magic 2 leap-frogged Leonard Chin's Custom 46 Ulumulu (Team Sabah) into third place but a start line barging protest overturned the result and awarded third spot to Chin's Ulumulu.

Once again, no Cruising Class A boats bothered to come out to race, deciding instead to savour the sights and sounds of KK. For the first time in yachting history a unique situation occurred, where three boats shared the lead on 15 points, after each boat has scored one win and not competed in any other races. Eventually on countback, Owen and Jessica Jenschke's Wright 14m Malaika won the Labuan to KK race and were awarded the victory. David and Jacqui Pemberton's Jackster claimed second place and Barry and Jerrie Bateman's Valiant 40 New World was awarded third overall for the win back in Miri.

Two wins on the passage races gives Micheal and Janice Johnson's FWM 39 Zoa overall victory in the Cruising B Class. Not only did Hans Berekoven's John Pugh 18m Southern Sun carry all the crews' luggage from port to port, but it was rewarded with second overall for its efforts. Winning the Miri Bay race gave David Walker's Trident 40 Fortuna of Tamar third place overall and something to entertain their visitors for years to come.

After a couple of disappointments in the protest room, Sjoerd Klass' Verrheust 56 Isis finally came good on the final day to clinch the win and overall victory in the Multihull Class. Determined to carry a starcut spinnaker to windward, John Six's Nautitec 43 Azura went sideways and missed the start line by 100 metres and never returned, to be scored "Did Not Start". In doing so, it handed the title to Isis on a platter. Only competing on two passage races, Chris Wood and Lyn Nichols' Light Wave 38 Out of the Blue 11 ended up in third spot overall.

Summing up

At the conclusion of BIYC, AYGP's Captain Marty had some harsh words for the cruising sailors, remarking "In the past, the inclusion of the "Sail Malaysia - Passage to the East Rally" boats has been beneficial to both parties. But this year it was a total failure and left BIYC organizers with a slap on the face. Free regatta entry, marina berthing and three parties was enough to entice them to join but not enough to see them participating in the racing was unacceptable to the organizers and sponsors, considering they put so much effort into making the event possible. Among other things, there is talk of charging an entry fee next year and catering to IRC Classes only. Unless there is a huge improvement, it certainly won't get them into the AYGP family of events any time soon."

More news, photos and info at: http://www.borneorace.com/index.htm
(With reporting from sailing sage Captain Marty Rijurkis of Asian Yachting Grand Prix)