Langkawi, Jan 11: The sailing extravaganza that brings seasoned yachtsmen and those who enjoy cruising around the legendary Langkawi islands has attracted a record 47 boats and over 300 sailors this year.
The Royal Langkawi International Regatta (RLIR), which pits some of the most talented sailors in duels to the finishing line, sets sail from 12th to 15th January 2011. The flags that flutter on the mast of the sailboats hail from Asia, Europe and as far away as the United States.
Jan 11 saw the boats participating in the practice session, with the sailors huffing and puffing as they worked as a team to raise and drop the spinnaker, hoist the main sail and work out tactics to stay clear of islands blocking the North Easterly winds that dominate the region around Langkawi at this time of year.
Organised by the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, the RLIR is divided into 8 classes. The divisions are racing class, IRC class, Sportsboats, Multihulls and Club Cruisers. The new addition among the 12 classes of races for this year is the HOBIE 16 where the Hobie Cat 16, a 4.8 metre-long yacht handled by 2 yachtsmen, can reach speeds upwards of 20 knots.
Weather conditions in Langkawi are expected to be ideal for this year’s regatta, with strong winds and clear skies anticipated as the North Easterly wind moving north of the Straits of Malacca expected to reach 12 knots, resulting in a challenging sailing experience during the four days of races.
The organisers will maintain the round-the-island and windward/leeward race courses for the different categories to ensure thrilling finishes.
Langkawi is ideally located in the north-western coast of Malaysia and is known as a land of myths and legends, with much of its folklore intricately woven into its history. The warm and clear waters surrounding the legendary islands of Langkawi are an additional bonus for sailors and cruising yachtsmen.
As has been the tradition every year, fun does not end with the races, the RLIR 2011 organising team is promising daily, fun-filled prize-giving parties.
This ninth edition of the RLIR has grown in stature and popularity since its inception in 2003 and has become a part of the Asian Regatta Calendar that is looked forward to by seasoned sailors and novices who actively race in regional yacht circuits.
Many of the racing yachts, IRC Class yachts and sports boats from around the globe and regular competitors of the RLIR are returning to race. Entries from Australia, Hong Kong, Holland, United Kingdom, Norway, the United States, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, France, Belgium and South Korea have been confirmed. Familiar names to the regatta like Ray Roberts, Frank Pong, Neil Pryde, Vincent Chan, Simon Piff and Neils Dengenkolw have also confirmed their participation.
Teams participating in the RLIR 2011 will compete for the Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy (internationally registered yachts), the Commodore’s Challenge Cup (club-registered cruisers), “LADA-IRC Challenge Trophy” (IRC Class – boats issued with a sailing handicap), Langkawi Sports Trophy (Sports Boat Class) and the Malaysian Multihull Challenge Cup (multihulls).
In RLIR 2009, the RLIR introduced the “Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship” award for the best team, both on water and land. This award is a special tribute to the Founder Chairman and 1st Commodore of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, Almarhum Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah Tunku Abdul Rahman.
The award will be given out again this year and represents the values for which the late Tunku stood for. The winner will be chosen from nominations and votes from all participating teams in the regatta.