Malaysia. Raja Muda Selangor: Neil Pryde Farr 52 OD Hi Fi & Frank Pong Reichel Pugh 75 Jelik to defend titles

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Each November around these time, some of the grandest yachts in the region make their way up the Klang River and find themselves crowded alongside the Royal Selangor Yacht Club pontoons. For a couple of days before the start, it is quite a magnificent sight to behold and being the first major SE Asian regatta held each year, a good opportunity for budding yachting journo's to catch up with what's new on the scene and what major changes have occurred during the off season. As most of the participants are foreigners or expats working in the Asian region, the government ministers attending the welcome dinner party at the RSYC have often commented "That it is an amazing sight to see such a large gathering of foreigners with similar interests having such a good time in Malaysia" Having resided in Malaysia for over ten years now, it is always interesting to sit back and watch how these foreign crews (Mostly first timers) adapt to the local culture and customs while they are here. The Aussie girls roped in to do the secretariat this year were heard complaining that they have bruises on the legs from the painful massage they received up the road at the Crystal Crown hotel. Perhaps they never heard of the popular Indonesian massage mainly from neighboring Sumatra that removes the air trapped in the body through the masseurs body. Anyway no worries they were forced to have a more relaxing Thai massage to sooth away the pain afterwards.

The crews on forty four competing yachts will have their navigation, seamanship and team working skills severely tested over the next week up the west coast of Malaysia. Weather wise, tropical thunderstorms have been as regular as clockwork for the last couple of weeks. By two thirty in the afternoon the building black clouds above open up and pelt down a torrential downpour. In front of the storm, some short bursts of thirty to forty knots of wind have been experienced. Not long after the rain starts the wind can completely disappear, leaving yachts floundering around in a vacuum. During the overnight passage races sailors can expect to experience at least three or four rainstorms crossing their paths as they proceed up the coast. After the 1:00 pm starting gun fires the conditions experienced onboard and how the crew handles them over the next twelve to twenty-four hours will determine the eventual winner. Throw in the notoriously strong Malacca Strait currents into the equation and it becomes a bit of a lottery. The rest is down to luck and hope that you are in the right place at the right time.

Looking down the list of entrants there are some skippers and boat owners that have supported this event over the years and enjoy nothing better than the crew camaraderie generated during a good blast up the straits on a sailing boat. Ten racing class boats have entered so the committee have enough to divide the class by their handicaps into 1a and 1b with five boats apiece. Neil Pryde's Farr 52 OD Hi Fi Team Pryde is back to defend last years title and Frank Pong's well prepared Reichel Pugh 75 Jelik crew are hoping to carry on their winning ways after tasting success at the season ending regatta at Koh Samui. Bill Bremner's Sydney 40 Foxy Lady heads up Class 1b were three boats from Singapore will be taking on two boats crewed by a mixed bunch of Malaysian sailors entered from the Royal Selangor Yacht Club.

Nine well presented Premier Cruising class yachts adorn the pontoons with the smallest being Aussie Geoff Hill's Lyons 49 Strewth, way up to Doc Nicolson's Dubois 80 Intrigue. Jon Wardill's well traveled Aussie Maid returns after a couple years absence and Hans Rahmann's spectacular looking Judel/Vrolijk 70 footer Yasooda with some of Phuket's best racing crews onboard, looks like she could shine by the end of the regatta.

Twenty six yachts make up the bulk of the fleet that have been divided into IRC Cruising, Performance Cruising including three Multihulls to make up a class. Club Commodore and Regatta Chairman, Dato' Richard Curtis has introduced a Vintage Class for yachts over fifty years old. He has since embarked on a massive building program to convert his almost 100 year Evelene back to the original gaff rig. The late arrival of the sails from Quantum SA means that the first time they get to hoist the sails will be on the start line of this years regatta. First photos in Race Report 1 from the beautiful and peaceful Pangkor Island group after Race 1.

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Capt. Marty (Martins) Rijkuris

Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 November 2006 )