“If you’re not getting close to capsize, you’re probably not pushing hard enough”
–James Spithill, ORACLE Racing Team, USA
Today, Race Day 3, saw the Regatta yachts sail the Round Island Race, initially sailed as a Regatta course in 2009. A serial volunteer at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta, Don McKean, apparently had the suggestion and did a lot of leg work and ironed out the fine details of the course, the shallow spots and the winds. The Round Island Race is not actually sailed around Langkawi Island, but the next two smaller islands; Pulau Tuba and Pulau Dayang Bunting where Langkawi’s famous Lake of the Pregnant Maiden lies. There are two courses that circumnavigate these islands, the longer 24 mile course takes the racers outside some smaller islands to the West and then back into Bass Harbour from the West, and the shorter 19 mile course which takes you up Tyson Strait between Singa Besar and Pulau Bunting and into Bass Harbour. This route passes by one of the yachties favorite anchorages; the fjord.
Today, the PRO put mark boats at strategic points in the two courses, to avoid shallows and such and put the finish line back in Bass Harbour near the Royal Malaysian Maritime Police base. Unique to this race, the Multi’s, Club Classics, Ocean Rovers and the White Sail Class were given the coordinates of the start line and were allowed to ‘start’ earlier than the normal 0930 start for Racers, IRC 1, IRC 2 and Sport Boats. An early morning riser, Don, went out to lay the start line around 0-dark- thirty and took the times of these early starters. As a matter of fact, all the mark boat volunteers had to be out on the course very early to accommodate the early starters. KUDO’s to you all!!
Historic wind patterns show that the NE wind tends to die out around Langkawi about mid-day and by going earlier the slower boats may manage the course without losing the wind. That’s the theory anyway. The one constant necessary to the Round the Island Race is wind; there must be sufficient wind on the other side of the hilly islands to support racing yachts.
Well, that was certainly was the case today. Today, Boreas blew a Hooley! Sixteen knots gusting to eighteen at the start and it didn’t appear to want to let up all morning, as evidenced by the elapsed times of the yachts.
By the time the Start Boat arrived at the start line to flag off the Racers, IRC 1, IRC 2 and the Sport Boats, the other classes had, in fact, all managed to get away earlier. The PRO set up the sequence and proceeded to start first, the Racers/IRC1 who would be racing on the longer course around the island; then the IRC2/Sport Boats who would take the shorter course along with the early starters. Another quirk of this race is that the start is a downwind start, and in 16 knots of fresh breeze, handling a spinnaker can get pretty tricky, to say the least. Fortunately, there were no major incidents, but there were a couple of wrapped spinnakers that were eventually unraveled. Both starts went well and the fleet headed downwind, spinnakers flying to round the bottom of the island. All those colorful spinnakers flying in the early sun were quite a sight. The day wasn’t totally without incident however, as a few miles from the start a young sailor went overboard from one of the sport boats. Luckily, the safety boat was on the spot, the sailor was hauled back aboard his Platu, and they continued sailing.
The Start Boat immediately upped anchor and made haste to Bass Harbour to lay the finish line off the Royal Malaysian Maritime Police Headquarters, who by the way, were supplying our Start Boat, PA 53. AAArh, and a fine boat she be, Matey! After maneuvering around and finding the right spot, the PRO put a buoy in the water to mark one end of the line and no sooner was that done than a sail was spotted on the horizon. Sure enough, it was one of the early starting Multihulls, A.CABRIOLET NINA, the first yacht to finish the Round the Island Race.
The yachts began trickling in, mainly the early starters first until the ninth boat, which was JELIK. She had finished the Round the Island Course with an elapsed time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 53 seconds! This may set a record for later Regattas, but if not, it certainly would be a record to shoot for. As an example, JELIK’s elapsed time in 2009 in the Round the Island Race was 3 hours, 16 minutes and 06 seconds.
Of course, there is an elapsed time pool on-board the Start Boat for the first Racer in and this year the first three winners were the Maritime Police members, and they don’t even sail!
As a follow-on to the race and the wind, at least two yachts did experience sail rips and tears; SMYSTERY ripped the head off the genoa, crossing the finish line under mainsail only and A. CABRIOLET NINA had a sail problem. Apparently, on shore, there was a race for taxis to get to the one and only sail maker in town first, but in the end, both sails could be repaired in time for racing tomorrow.
It’ll be hard to match the exhilarating and flat out racing of today’s race, but with two more days of the Royal Langkawi International Regatta to go, ‘it ain’t over ’til it’s over’!