Malaysia. 3rd Borneo International Yachting Challenge preview Print E-mail
Monday, 04 September 2006
Capt. Marty (Martins) Rijkuris:

A 2 1/2 hour AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Labuan in East Malaysia is all you need to get to the startline for the 3rd Borneo Int Yachting Challenge. The massive and diverse island of Borneo is probably better known for the deepest, darkest and dankest rain forests with sandy tropical Islands fringing the coastline, than a venue for yacht racing. That all changed a few years ago when the State of Sarawak and the Federal Territory Island of Labuan decided to jointly hold a International sailing event to promote marine and sporting tourism pursuits in the region. Marina's have been built in Miri and Kota Kinabalu, haulout facilities in Kudat and suggested sailing routes to attract cruising yachts and sailors seeking adventure along the shores. With the gradual opening up of countries bordering the South China Sea and the abundance of nature and cultures on offer here, they aim to make the last cruising destination to open up in the world, possibly into one of the best.

Eighteen yachts have arrived in front of the Waterfront Hotel in Labuan from the twenty one entries received to date. Five Aussie yachts form the largest contingent, with two each from Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong, plus one from the UK, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway and Canada, truly reflects the International flavour of the event. The added attraction of waving entry fees and providing a US$ 500 incentive to help cover costs has doubled the number of entries over past years and seen a marked increase in long term cruisers visiting the region.

Only two boats have IRC certificates to be eligible for the racing class and most others have either never raced before or are out and out, husband and wife cruisers with jerry cans, gas bottles, outboard motors and dinghy's strapped on deck. Not what you would normally see at a regatta but with the lack of racing class boats over here, anything seems to go in this part of the world. Two five-star parties with traditional dancers are planned for Labuan, with three more in Miri, are bound to go down well with the thirsty sailors in between the racing. Despite the cruising nature of the regatta the overall intention is to do well and extra attention paid to trimming the sails, a little tweak here and there to be marginally faster around a designated course. After all winning is not everything to these sailors but developing some camaraderie amongst the troops and fostering new found friendships could just make this event very unique indeed.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 04 September 2006 )
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