Forty six yachts have signed on, for the 9th running of this much celebrated and highly regarded regatta, beginning here tomorrow. Regatta Director, Ahmad Zailani Bashah (Zack), is very pleased with the increase in numbers and welcomed four Hobie 16 catamarans making their debut this year and there inclusion is expected to popularise future events. The underlying aim of the event has always been to provide competitive and enjoyable racing for all crews, irrespective of the design or vintage of their yachts. Since the regatta started, the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces have always been very supportive and by registering three yachts, Navy 1 in the Sports class, Zuhrah (Racing class), and Musytari (Club Cruising) this year is no exception.
Crews on the six high tech racing yachts have arrived early and are conducting new sail measurements as part of there ongoing optimisation program and shaking off the excesses from the festive season in preparation for racing. Once again Neil Pryde’s custom Welbourn 52 Hi Fi and Ray Roberts TP52 Evolution Racing will be going head to head but stiff competition is expected to come from Frank Pong’s 75ft Reichel Pugh Jelik II and Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns Mills 51 EFG Bank Mandrake despite making their debut in Langkawi. Tiffany Koo is taking over the skippers role on Pong’s TP52 Jelik V and Ishak Jab is in charge of the Malaysian Armed Forces Farr 520 Zuhrah and expects all the recent training at the navy base in Lumut to bare fruit on this occasion. Ray Roberts has won the prestigious Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy five times in a row and must start as favourite to repeat the performance.
Close and exciting racing is expected from the thirteen yachts registered in the IRC Class competing for the LADA-IRC Challenge Trophy. The class is further subdivided in two IRC classes based on size and rating bands. Last year in IRC 1 Ben Copley’s Club Swan 42 Katsu led the standings until the last race, when Peter Wintle’s Kerr 11.3 Koull Baby tied on points and ran away with the series. Foreign entries include Rick Pointon’s 13m Jing Jing representing China and Makoto Uematsu’s Japanese chartered Titan 36 Mata Hari. A big threat will come from David Ross’ Kerr 32 Kukukerchu who have cleaned up at all regattas they have entered so far.In IRC 2 Niels Degenkolw’s IOR 3/4 Ton Xyacht Phoenix won last year by a country mile. Neil Ankcorn’s Farr 1104 Mat Salleh has scored top placing’s at Asian events before. With the split in classes Simon Piff’s Lavranos 34 Rainbow Dream will pose a threat and Mike Van Zyl’s 24ft Jandi won the class in 2009 could also come into contention. Locally based yachts Jeremy Camps Pele Peterson 10.7 Cabaret 6, Jega Muniandy’s X 342 Leopad Dream and John Kara’s Dehler 10.6m Skybird are very familiar with the sailing area and not here just to make up the numbers.
Nine International teams make up the Sports Boat Class that are racing on one design Platu 25’s and competing for the Langkawi Sports Trophy. The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron are the defending champions that narrowly took the title from Royal Malaysian Navy 1 last year. The Singapore Management University and Malaysian Yachting Association return for more and after another years experience are expected to be on the podium. Newcomers include Hamish Crossan from BBYC (New Zealand), Taiwan Aletheia University, Thailand’s Jarau Tipsuk on Mitrmitree, Ng Ai Li from the Royal Selangor Yacht Club and Rolf Heemskerk’s Team ViewPoint that are the present Thai champions and on current form should start as favourite. Results will also be subdivided into an under 25 age group.
Only three Multihull’s will be competing for the Malaysian Multihull Challenge Cup. Last years champion Grenville Fordham’s 11.6m Andaman Cabriolet Niña will be taking on the much bigger RLYC/Abd. Latif’s 17.38m Manta Blu and Friob Thomas 18m trimaran Spirit of Ireland, which Chay Blyth set the Round Britain record many years ago. Depending on the conditions the defending champion may have his hands full keeping up with the bigger boats.
Seven Club Cruisers will contest the RLYC Commodore’s Cup. The Royal Malaysian Navy Contessa 34 Musytari, Morten Ringvold’s Haffiman and Gavin Welman’s Hallberg Rassy 53 Rascal have all competed with distinction in the past. Returning after a years absence Kevan Perrins 13.10m Rusalka has won here before, although newcomers Thomas Frith’s 12.6m Coruisk, Schworer Dario’s 15m Top to Top Exped and Charles Hay’s 15.85m Smystery could spring a few surprises.
After a small reshuffle the Ocean Rovers have been reserved for the classic old girls in the fleet. At 19m James Morris Sirius 1935 is the biggest and Henning Lenz 10.36m My Toy is the smallest. The 100 year old Bristol Pilot Cutter Eveline skippered by Trevor Richards and all the way from Holland Jelle C Mann’s 13.10m Saipin round out the fleet.
The four Hobie 16 catamarans will be crewed by junior sailors from the Kedah Sailing Association and the Malaysian Yachting Association. This is the first year they are competing and the sailors will be on a steep learning curve but welcome the experience.
A special "Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship" award in memory of the Founding Chairman and first RLYC Commodore Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah will be presented to the best team, both on the water and land during the regatta will be voted on by the participants.
A combination of harbour and outside courses will be used including the round the island race over the four days of racing. The warm weather and clear waters surrounding the legendary and duty-free islands are a feast to enjoy and to top it off the organising team have gone to great lengths to plan daily, fun-filled prize giving parties to dance the night away.
The RLIR 2011 is now available on mobile devices. Logon to m.langkawiregatta.com to get latest race updates and daily highlights or using more traditional methods all the info is available at: http://www.langkawiregatta.com