A top class fleet of racing yachts have gathered at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club for the sixth running of this prestigious Malaysian sailing event.
The decision to bring the dates forward to January (Between the King’s Cup and Singapore Straits) makes it a natural progression of events down the west coast and an attempt to improve the standard of racing class entrants is clearly paying dividends. It also makes the event the first Asian regatta to blast off into the New Year when favourable North East trade winds are expected. Eight racing class yachts are contesting the Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy, Nine IRC Class yachts split into Premier Cruising and IRC 1 competing for the LADA Challenge Trophy while a whopping eight Sports Boats are lining up for the Langkawi Sports Trophy. Six Multihulls are contesting the Malaysian Multihull Challenge Cup and five Club Cruisers competing for the Commodore’s Challenge Cup.
All eyes will be on the performance of Neil Pryde’s newly converted Welbourne 52 HI FI Team Pryde and two newcomers to Langkawi, Chris Meads Corby 43 Full Metal Jacket and Ben Copley’s Club Swan 42 Katsu. They certainly look the part of full blown racers but have to overcome Frank Pong’s 75ft R/P Jelik and Ray Roberts DK 46 Quantum Racing before they can claim the title. Three time RLIR champion Aussie Peter Ahern returns with his Farr 40 YO!2 and always poses a problem by having extensive local knowledge. The Royal Malaysian Navy are coming out in force by fielding their Farr 520 Zuhrah and a DK46 under RMN-Janda Baik. Mainland China’s Adam Ng’s Judel/Vrolijk 52 Microlab Moonlight Shadow is overdue for a win and the strong winds expected may just be to his liking.
The IRC Class has been split into two with the same start. Vincent Chan’s Titan 36 Matahari has dropped down to the IRC Premier Cruising Class and maybe hard to beat but Anthony Hastings has other ideas and prepared his Beneteau 53 Baby Tonga 99 Degrees East especially for this event. Keith Dunn’s Mount Gay 30 Lunchcutter II joins them and will be in amongst the action from race one.
IRC 1 is designed for boats of similar performance. Neils Degenkolw Phoenix has been pushing the envelope at other events and Michele Pippen’s Mull 38 Tropicbird has steadily improved over the season. Dick Sanders has transported Thairaver all the way from Ocean Marina in Pattaya, Thailand where they have competed with distinction. The Penang Swimming Club have chartered Tag to garner some keelboat sailing experience and at 24ft Mike Van Zyl’s IOR 1/4 tonner Jandi could be a dark horse if the right conditions prevail.
An interesting fight is expected to develop amongst the nine entrants in the Sportsboat class. China Team are fielding two of their new Longtze 23 Sportsboats that won their class at the inaugural China Cup last year. Five Farr Platu 25’s with teams representing Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the UK are expected to go all out in an effort to stamp their authority over each other. Scott Duncanson’s Phuket Sports 8 Somtam Express has won everything before them and if the wind is in they will be the ones to beat. Five of the Platu Teams are under 25 years old and are entitled to compete for the Sports youth title.
The diverse range of Multihull’s contesting this year makes it very hard to make any predictions. The handicapper will certainly have his hands full when comparing the nippy 28ft Firefly’s of Roger Kingdon’s Moto Inzi, Henry Kaye’s Mamba and Bill Phelps Twin Sharks with the heavy displacement and bigger cruising catamarans of Bob Brindley’s 39ft Xcatriot, Greenville Fordham’s chartered 32ft IMAGE asia Ceberus and Bernd Nordemann’s 41ft Twin Magic all the way from Germany. His job will be made easier by dividing the class into Racing and Premier Multihull with the three Firefly’s racing each other.
The Club Class has also attracted a wide range in size, age and displacement of competitors. Anything from Henning’s 33ft classic My Toy to John Ramsden’s modern day Elan 44 Sofa So Good and Kevan Perrins 43ft Rusalka that have won here before. Newcomers Chris Kingsley-Smith Amandla Star from the UK and Labbadi Gilles 36ft Eloise from France are aiming to spoil their party.
Racing begins in earnest on Monday 7th Jan with five days of racing scheduled over a mixture of new and exciting courses laid offshore from the 99 legendary islands of Langkawi and within Bass Harbour. Newly appointed RLYC Commodore Y.M. Tunku Dato’ Ya’acob bin Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah is confident that the changes will make the racing more exciting for the sailors and added “The RLIR 2008 promises to be highly competitive this year and good wind conditions have already been forecasted during the period of this regatta”.
Major sponsors for the event are BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), Tourism Malaysia and Langkawi Development Authority. Other sponsors include the Langkawi Tourism Action Council, the Kedah State Government, CLINIQUE and Permanis Sdn Bhd.
Capt. Marty (Martins) Rijkuris http://AsianYachting.com