When there’s scenery to sail in, it seems a pity not to sail in it. So the Royal Langkawi International Regatta includes an “Around the Islands” Race in the programme.
That’s not around the whole archipelago – that might take a very long time for some boats – but those divisions generally reckoned to be “quick” were handed a 27 nm course starting just to the east of the main island, and the “slow” divisions were handed a 20nm trip through the Dayang Bunting Strait, a part of the Langkawi Geopark that takes in some seriously spectacular scenery.
Every regatta needs some sort of signature to make it special, and this is the one that belongs to the RLIR. Published time for the one start for all divisions was 0930 hrs, but the regatta also permits competitors on the “short” course to pick their own start time and, therefore, their weather window. One competitor in the Club Cruising class, the Royal Malaysian Navy’s little Marikh, started at 0800 hrs. The three cats in the Multihull Racing class all started “early”, it’s not a bad way of saving the RO from having to hang on forever waiting for the stragglers.
But it was all go for the Racing, Premier, IRC 1 and Sportsboats divisions at 0930 hrs as they crossed the line with spinnakers hoisted and a good solid 14 kt breeze from the north east to help them on their way. HoFi and Evolution Racing declared their intention to match race the whole way round the course, hitting the line joined at the hip and staying that way right to the finish. Jelik took off and showed them the way – and also showed them the hole in the south west corner of the course, which they promptly avoided. HiFi led Evolution by a whisker for the first half of the race, but Evolution’s tactician, Steve McConaghy, found a passing lane before the boats turned into the south end of Bass Harbour, slipped past, and held on to the lead to the finish. Jelik took Line Honours, and Frank Pong declared himself well pleased with the boat’s performance upwind on the homeward leg of the race. ‘It was a great sail home,’ he said, ‘but there wasn’t quite enough runway left to make up the time we lost in the hole. Never mind – it’s great to sail around these islands, it’s one of the highlights of this regatta.’
In Premier Cruising Peter Wintle’s Koull Baby chose today to pick her skirts and give division leader Katsu (Ben Copley) a run for the money. The little Kerr 11.7 stayed on the pace all the way round the track to relegate the Club Swan 42 to second place by five minutes after 3hrs 45min of racing. Phoenix (Niels Degenkolw) led the IRC 1 division from start to finish and, with five races run from an eight-race series, is well-nigh unbeatable. Curtis Skinner’s RQYS crew scored second in the Sportsboats division, but still have a lead over today’s winners, Christopher Lim’s SMU crew.
There’s cans racing back on the menu tomorrow. ‘Yes, we do like cans racing’ said HiFi tactician Kevin Costin, ‘but we like the islands course here, too. There are some strong flows around and between the islands, bullets coming off the hills, and wind shadows to negotiate. It’s different, but it’s just as tactically challenging as windward-leeward racing.’