|Raja Muda celebrates 25 years on the water|
The Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta (RMSIR) is a challenging offshore sailing race, organized annually by the Royal Selangor Yacht Club (RSYC) in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC).
It consists of three overnight passage races, 260 miles ((418.43km) in total, plus three days of harbour racing in Penang and Langkawi. With regatta dinners almost every night, a rickshaw race and lots of opportunities to socialize as the onshore activities can be just as demanding as the sailing. The event attracts a large variety of yachts, from top class IRC1 racers to slow classic cruisers dating back over 100 years, all of whom have to cope with unpredictable weather and changing tactics during the nine-day mix of races past tropical islands.
The regatta was launched in 1990 as a sequel to offshore series which linked three of the most popular tourist island groups to the west of peninsular Malaysia – Pangkor, Penang and Langkawi. Yachtsmen from the RSYC in Port Klang enjoyed the challenge of combining seamanship, navigation and local knowledge with the joy of sailing and competing.
The first regatta comprised just two long races, from Port Klang to Pangkor, and from Penang to Langkawi, with a leisurely cruise from Pangkor to Penang and some lively social events interspersed – even an informal fishing competition. Many of the competitors lobbied for some harbour races to be added and in 1991 triangle races were staged off Penang and Langkawi. The fleet was enhanced in 1991-2 by the addition of boats from the Europa Roundthe-World Rally. In 1992, it was decided to race from Pangkor to Penang in addition to the established legs, with the best 2 of 3 races counting towards the competition for the Raja Muda Cup. The triangle races at that time were scored separately, with suitable trophies being awarded.
The popular format has remained largely unchanged to the present time. In 2000, the Penang triangle was dropped in favour of 2 days of harbour racing in Langkawi, due to the lack of suitable secure berths in Penang, and the creation of a beautiful new marina at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. But with the construction of a new marina in Penang, the extended stopover now encompasses a day of tri-shaw races and time to run ashore for the crews, plus harbour races and a prize-giving dinner in one of the most picturesque venues in the town, thus making Penang one of the most popular runs ashore in Malaysia.
Each of those three passage races (Port Klang to Pangkor, and then on to Penang and finally Langkawi) invariably end up giving all crews a very testing work-out both in terms of weather conditions encountered (anything from light-and-shifty through to blowing-oldboots, with quick and dirty tropical squalls to contend with), and in endurance – each race is long enough to keep all the boats sailing through the night, but not long enough to drop into a rotating watch system. Three very long sprints, in effect. And then there are the tactical and navigational challenges to cope with, from the notorious rounding of the Kra Bank on the way into Penang to the ever-taxing decision to "stay in" towards the coast or "go out" looking for offshore breeze – neither option carries any guarantees. Not for nothing has the event long billed itself as "Asia's most challenging regatta".
Throw into the programme the two days of cans racing in Penang and Langkawi, and the mix is a severe test of racing crews at both ends of the speed scale. And don't forget the parties and prizegivings – they contribute not only a huge amount of fun, but have also been known to affect racing performances! This is not a quick trip round the cans and back to the bar – it is nine days of hard work that demand a great deal of application from all competitors.
Jon Wardill's Cassidy 55 Australian Maid competed for the 22nd time this year and Neil Pryde returned with his Welbourn 52 Hi Fi gunning for his seventh win on the RMSIR honor board. Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth had a new Sydney GTS43 EFG Bank Mandrake 3 and Bill Bremner's Mills King 40 Foxy Lady 6 was hoping to defend its title. The grand ole dame of the Raja Muda Regatta was Dato Richard Curtis' 100 year old Bristol Pilot Cutter Eveline, skippered by Trevor Richards, which competed in the Classic Class 6.
At the Welcome Dinner, it was only appropriate that the RMSIR Regatta Chairman, Martin Axe to proudly ring the starting bell for the 25th running of the event, that he has taken part in and been the driving force from the very beginning. Back in 1991, it was also Martin that arrived in Darwin, Australia on Hijas Kasturi's Kembara and invited Jon Wardill to bring Australian Maid to Malaysia and participate on the 2nd Raja Muda Int. Regatta
Forty yachts were divided into seven classes for the 110nm Leg 1 from Port Klang to Pulau Pangkor. Then the Penang to Langkawi race is 53NM.
Club sailors are well represented in the seven classes - IRC I (Raja Muda Cup), IRC 2 (Jugra Cup), IRC 3 and 4, non-IRC cruising, Classic Cruising and OMR Multihulls. A unique aspect of sailing in the RMSIR is that local crews represent a microcosm of Malaysian society, with the same interesting ethnic mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and expatriate members.
The RMSIR is one of the region's few offshore yacht races, along with the Rolex Sydney-Hobart and the Rolex China Sea Race, and is recognized by the prestigious Londonbased Royal Ocean Racing Club. Since its inception, the regatta has attracted a loyal band of followers who turn up year after year, often with bigger and better yachts each time.
Coastal conditions in the Straits of Malacca set this event apart. Strong tides, unpredictable winds, shallow mud banks, fishing nets strung out across the course and "Sumatra" storms that appear from nowhere all contribute to making the three night passages races uniquely challenging. Local knowledge certainly helps the navigator but it takes a combination of skill and luck to successfully decide if it's best to hug the coast, sail out offshore or take a more or less straight line up the middle. Most skippers also have to deal with very light winds at some point, and this is the time when concentration and stamina really come into play. On the upside, the sun shines regularly, the water is warm, and shorts and teeshirts are the order of the day.
No matter what the weather conditions, the overnight bases of Pangkor, Penang and Langkawi offer a tropical island experience for all who take part, including warm, clear water, exotic birds and coral reefs. Malaysian cuisine is world-renowned, so for many crew members the chance to try out spicy local delicacies like Roti Canai, Curry Laksa, Satay and Char Kway Teow is as important as the time spent on the water. In Penang, an intermediate prize giving ceremony and dinner is organized at the magnificent Koo Kongsai, a Chinese Clan Temple, where the audience is treated to a colourful cultural show.
The regatta website, www.rmsir.com, provides a wealth of information related to the RMSIR, including the Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions, hotel details, charter and crew opportunities.
Eight days of racing always end with an evening social on the terrace of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, complete with a backdrop of the sun setting over the surrounding islands. With speeches and prize giving out of the way, the real party starts on the dance floor. Crews banter about final results and taking each other on at the King's Cup in Thailand, the next event on the Asian circuit. For long-time competitors and first timers alike, just completing the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta brings a true sense of achievement.
With renewed government interest in leisure boating in Malaysia, as well as in neighbouring countries, new marinas are being constructed, providing modern facilities for high performance yachts, as well as for the cruising fleets passing through the Malacca Straits.Summary from Captain Marty
"The day started with a mild Northeasterly blowing down the harbour and ended when a storm cell ascended from the South, and swung the breeze around, then increased to 20 plus knots and pelted down with rain. On the racing course, Neil Pryde's Welbourn 52 Hi Fi lost valuable time when it became entangled with the windward mark anchor line and then Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth's new Sydney GTS43 EFG Bank Mandrake did the same on the second round. Those unprepared when the storm hit, ended with shredded spinnakers flying horizontally from the masthead and/or trawling in the water with embarrassing red faced crew. Others that were prepared, hankered down and experienced very fast reaching conditions and invariably won their respective classes.
"Hooking up the mark initially caused some confusion and sent boats spearing off in all directions. The time lost by Neil Pryde's Welbourn 52 Hi Fi was not recoverable and 8th place effectively saw their quest for a 7th IRC 1 title, drift away with the buoy. Two wins and second place for Paul Winkelmann's JV 42 Island Fling secured second overall and apart from 6th place in Race 4, they could have been top of the table. Never finishing worse than fourth, Bill Bremner's Mills King 40 Foxy Lady 6successfully defended its title and collected another Raja Muda Cup for their efforts. This result also puts Bremner's Foxy Lady 6, on a nine Asian regatta winning streak since 2012 and elevated them to second place in the running for the 2014-15 AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year awards.
"After going aground on the last race, last year, Geoff Hill's Smith 72 Antipodes, made amends and with the strong breeze driving them forward to score second and first places, securing the Premier Cruising class and adding another Jugra Cup to their collection. Jon Wardill's defending champion Australian Maid rebounded by winning the first race and came second in Race 2, thereby relinquishing the title, but ending up in second overall. Despite all the breakages, Andrew Cocks Simonis Voogd 56 Starlight made it through her first outing with a commendable third place. In future, they can expect better results when the crew are more familiar with the boat, along with a better run of luck. Guy Waddilove's brand new NZ built Dubois 37.5m Escapade must be commended for competing in all the races and a spectacular sight to behold under full sail.
"Seven wins in a row for Gordon Ketelbey's Beneteau 44.7 Fujin allowed it to defend the IRC 3 class title with a day to spare and takes home the Tiger International Challenge Trophy again. By a mere point Keith Garry's X-412 BeauX Esprit came out on top of the tussle for podium positions with Chris Furness' Elan 410 Rikki Tikki Tavi, to respectively score second and third places.
"Coming into the final race, Mike Downard's Farr 1104 Piccolo and Jeff Harris' J92S Nijinski were tied on 10 points with all to play for in the IRC 4 class. Downard's Piccolo took an early lead in the light stuff and extended during the storm to secure the RSYC Cruising Challenge Trophy. John Kara's Dehler 34 Skybird has been floating in and out of the podium places but a slow second race to Penang left them in third overall.
"Six wins in a row for Philip Auger and Astrid Graha's Davidson 35 Sophia gave them the perfect score to win the Cruising Class and in doing so, added the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club Cup to their silverware. The defending champion Chris Mitchell's Naut 40 Lady Bubbly ended up in second overall. After a slow start, the new kids on the block, the RSYC team on Jenneau Sun Odessy Panacea with sailing master Grant Bartlett calling the shots, progressively got better through the series to end up in third overall.
"Dato Richard Curtis' 100-year-old Bristol Pilot Cutter Eveline, came storming back into contention by winning the last four races but their slow start left them short and second place was the best they could hope for. Two early wins for Barry Wickett's Slipper 42 Kay Sira was enough to conquer the Classic Class and they were rewarded with the Eveline Trophy for their efforts. Simon Read's Beneteau 350 Aeolus XC finished third with defending champion Keith Miller's Harmony 38 Sade 2 finishing fourth.
"In the Multihull Class, Rolf Heemskerk's chartered Stealth 11.8m Hurricane was pressed all the way by Mick Coleman/John Coffin's sister ship Java, but they managed to outscore them, three wins versus two and took home the Dato' Abdul Aziz Ismail Challenge Trophy. Although Danny and Nigel's Bali built trimaran 3Itch, suffered from a broken centerboard on the leg from Penang, they have soldiered on and in the circumstances were very proud of their achievement to date."
(Captain Marty has competed in or covered all but the first Raja Muda race)25 YEARS OF RMSIR
The Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta (RMSIR) celebrated its silver anniversary in 2014 and the Royal Selangor Yacht Club (RSYC) commemorated this special milestone with a book that looks at the history and legacy of the RMSIR.
25 Years of RMSIR takes a fond look at the history and the legacy of the regatta, with a foreword by HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, the Sultan of Selangor, the patron of the RMSIR.
Since its inception, due in no small part to its format, hospitality and terrain, the RMSIR has matured into one of the most challenging and endeared keelboat events in Southeast Asia.
"The RMSIR is a challenging race that requires far more than just yacht racing expertise. The boats and their crew have to cope with unpredictable weather and changing tactics during the nine-day mix of races where logistics, navigation, and weather and tide interpretation skills play a key role in a team's success," said Martin Axe, Chairman of the 2014 Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta.
"The book is a collection of facts, pictures and anecdotes from past winners and chairmen, commodores, regatta regulars and other notable yachting types who have contributed significantly to the event over the years," he added.
About the Royal Selangor Yacht Club (RSYC)