Thirty-three yachts split into five classes will go under starter’s orders today, Tuesday, as the seventh running of the five day Royal Langkawi International Regatta gets underway.
The main protagonists of the racing class are keen to add the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Challenge trophy to their silverware.
Ray Roberts and his DK46 Quantum Racing crew from Sydney are hot after winning the Phuket King’s Cup and Class 0 at the recent Sydney Hobart Race.
Neil Pryde’s Welbourn 52 Hi-Fi has shown great form last year and sits proudly on top of the AYGP Championship pointscore.
Frank Pong’s R/P 75 Jelik is the biggest and fastest boat in the fleet and always poses a threat if the conditions suit, while three-time champion Peter Ahern returns with his Farr 40 YO!2 after an extensive refit and expects to be amongst the leaders.
The Royal Malaysian Navy are fielding there Farr 520 Zuhrah and if skipper Mohd Razali can find the pace and confidence they had during the Raja Muda Regatta they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Because of the diverse range of yachts entered, the IRC class is split into Premier Cruising and IRC 1, both competing for the LADA Challenge Trophy.
Anthony Hastings Beneteau 53 Baby Tonga 99 Degrees East returns better prepared this year after winning the Raja Muda Premier Cruising class and is expected to continue on their winning ways this week.
Both Vincent Chan’s Titan 36 Mata Hari and Stuart Williamson’s Beneteau 34.7 Endeavour of Whitby are overdue for a win and ready for a good fight.
Helmut Schutte returns this time with a new Beneteau 45 Aquavit V but will have to overcome his old boat Elan 40 Rascallion now in the hands of Jeff Harris. They will all have to watch out for Niels Degenkolw IOR 3/4 Ton Phoenix, at 33 feet maybe the smallest in the class but based on past winning performances has the biggest bite of them all.
Jan Matthews Sunsail 35, Alan Rimington’s 32ft Atlantis Star from the Penang Swimming Club and Mike Van Zyl’s 24ft Jandi are the only three contestants in the IRC 1 class. It should be a good battle as they are similarly matched in speed and rating band. May the best one go forward!
The Sportsboats have arrived in force, with three Chinese entries, Longtze Premier a Thompson 6.8 Sports and five youth teams representing Australia, Singapore and Malaysia racing on the popular Platu 25’s.
America’s Cup veteran Thierry Barot will be leading the Longtze charge and ably assisted by Malaysian Yachting Association youth sailors from the dinghy classes.
The Royal Malaysian Navy are fielding two teams and seriously looking at defending the title that they have won at past regattas. This should be the class to watch and the winners of the Langkawi Sports Trophy will go away knowing they have earned the title in trying circumstances.
Seven Club Cruisers will be competing for the Commodore’s Challenge Cup. Most are hoping to make a repeat performance as they have scored podium places over the past six events.
Kevan Perrin’s Oyster 435 Rusalka, Keith Garry’s 41ft BeauX Esprits, Christopher Kingsley-Smith 41ft Amandla Star and Henning Lenz 33ft My Toy will be joined by Des Kearns 46ft Bad Habit, Gordon Hargreave’s 45ft Sea Urchin from Australia and Gavin Welman’s Hallberg Rassy 53 Rascal that has won the Non IRC Class at the last two Raja Muda regattas.
Only three Multihulls have turned up to contest the Malaysian Multihull Challenge Cup. The hotly contested Firefly class is noticed by its absence.
Despite the Fireflys, Bill Webb’s 41ft Out of the Bag, Bob Brindley’s Whiteheavan 11.8 Xcatriot and Tim Milner’s 33ft Seekronghuk are all very similarly matched catamarans and shared the silverware at other events to be worried about the Firefly’s non appearance.
As a tribute to the Founding Chairman and first Commodore of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, the late Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah, the ‘Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship’ award has been introduced for the best team, both on water and land in the 2009 Regatta.
This brand new award, which represents the values for which the late Tunku stood for, will be nominated and voted for by all participating teams in the regatta and will be awarded during the Overall Prize Presentation evening.
So the stage is set, the bar is free flowing and the conversation has reached a crescendo – just how we like it before the big day – so I say “Let’s get it on!”