07:01:2013 Langkawi, Malaysia: Most the top racing boats in their class have signed on this year and raring to go. This regatta is firmly established on the Asian racing calendar and has the pleasure of kicking off the new year in grand style. The underlying aim has always been to provide competitive and enjoyable racing for all crews, irrespective of the design or vintage of their yacht. A ‘White Sails” class has been added this year, to attract more cruising boats that would not normally race but want to join in the competitive spirit and active social activities. Forty three boats divided into nine classes continue the tradition of attracting highly competitive racing yachts and sailors from all over the world, who will go under the starters orders tomorrow.
Neil Pryde makes a welcome return after hip replacement surgery and is more than ever determined to win this regatta, as it is one of the events that has eluded the Hi Fi Team all these years. Only three skippers have ever won the Racing Class in the 10 year history and for someone as competitive as Pryde, being the bridesmaid can get under the skin and will never rest until the Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy is placed on the mantle piece. However they won’t have it all their own way and have to overcome Frank Pong’s 75ft Reichel Pugh Jelik, that bagged the King’s Cup last month and is extremely pleased with the modifications made to the yacht. Joining them on this occasion is Steve Manning’s Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2 and Ben Copley’s RP45 Katsu that are quite capable of ruining the big boat party. The two Malaysian Armed Forces DK 47’s Uranus (Mohd Razali Mansur) and Utarid (Ishak bin Jab) have undergone an extensive training regime and have shown a remarkable turn of speed to mount a formidable challenge.
The Premier Cruising class is back with four long time campaigners revitalizing the ranks. Aussie Peter Sorensen has chartered the Beneteau F53 Baby Tonga which he won the King’s Cup a few years ago. Brent McInnes also on a Beneteau First 53/F5 Overdrive, Reinhard Haiber’s Meridien 47 Pytheas Aura and Hoist Lakits Custom Swan 55 Big A, are stalwarts on the Phuket racing scene and enjoy nothing better than battling it out with each other.
Many crews have arrived early and are out training or conducting new sail measurements as part of there ongoing optimisation program and shaking off the excesses from the festive season in preparation for racing.
Smaller IRC yachts are divided into two classes based on size and rating bands and competing for the LADA-IRC Challenge Trophy. The Royal Selangor Yacht Club have arrived in force with Jeremy Camps Pele Peterson 10.7 Cabaret 6, Jeff Harris J 92 S Nijinsky and John Kara’s Dehler 10.6m Skybird reopening old rivalries and all aiming to get the better of Niels Degenkolw’s evergreen IOR 3/4 Ton Xyacht Phoenix that is the defending champion.
Down from Phuket, Rob Azzopardi’s Beneteau Oceanis 423 Dreamtime and Clive Manning’s Sunsail Rattana will be taking on James Wylie’s Sun Odyssey 45.2 Carrioca and Wayne Bateman’s Morakot all the way from the Darwin Sailing Club in the IRC 2 class are expected to have a ding dong battle.
The Regatta Technical Chairman, Ahmad Zailani Bashah (Zak) said “Langkawi is known as a world-class sailing venue with excellent warm weather, good wind conditions and tropical waters. The wind speed in January always fluctuates between 8 – 20 knots and we are sure these wind conditions will continue. The Kuah Harbour race and Coastal race always provides two different scenarios for sailors. We have strong wind conditions with flat waters in Kuah Harbour, as well as strong wind conditions with choppy waters in Coastal areas. All participants can look forward to a challenging and fascinating sailing experience,” Zailani added.
Five one design Platu 25’s are competing for the Langkawi Sports Trophy and shaping up to be a battle of the United Nations. From Australia, the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron will be taking on Calvin Lim’s Singapore Management University (SMU) and coming up against the formidable Royal Malaysian Navy that have won here before. The Malaysian Yachting Association (MYA) and Royal Selangor Yacht Club are fielding teams that are honing their skills for the up and coming match racing circuit. There will also be trophy’s for the under 25 age group.
Six very different Multihull’s will be competing for the Malaysian Multihull Challenge Cup. Andrew Stransky’s Seven Seas 50 Fantasia and Peter Wilcox’s Schionning Gforce 1500 Mojo have fought a close battle during the Raja Muda and King’s Cup with Mojo coming out on top on both occasions. Stransky’s Fantasia is the reigning RLIR champion and not likely to hand over the title without a fight. In the past Grenville Fordham’s 11.6m Andaman Cabriolet Niña has won here two times before and although they will be facing some stiff competition, intend on giving the big boats a run for their money. Must not discount David Liddell’s Corsair C37RS Miss Saigon, that has a number of victories to their credit and given the right conditions are capable of victory.
A mixture of past winners and old favourites are fronting up in the Club Cruiser, Ocean Rover and the new White Sails classes. They will be vying for the RLYC Commodore’s Cup. Charles Hay’s Jeanneau 45 Smystery is the defending champion after a last race showdown with Nick Smith’s Ericson 38 Free Wind that hopes to turn the table this year. Gavin Welman’s Hallberg-Rassy 53 Rascal and Morten Ringvold’s Sun Odyssey 37 Haffiman are always in the running. Japan’s Yasuto Fuda Dehler 38 Fortissimo 8 and Adale’s Oyster 55 Chantique skippered by Hakim A. Klunker are in with a chance if they can produce some consistency.
Old favourites in the Ocean Rover class include Datuk Richard Curtis’ 100 year old Bristol Pilot Cutter Eveline and Simon Morris’ Staysail Schooner Sirius going head to head with Tropical Charters Warisan Duyong.
In the new White Sails class, past divisional winners Henning Lenz 10.36m My Toy and Kevan Perrins Holman and Pye 13.10m Rusalka will have to resist the pedigree of Kevin Gillow’s S&S 34 Poco, Germany’s Hans Rudolph Roth’s Island Packet IP45 Slow Motion and Graham Tuckey’s Optoloi before they can take the new trophy home.
A special “Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship” award in memory of the Founding Chairman and first RLYC Commodore Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah will be presented to the best team, both on the water and land during the regatta will be voted on by the participants.
A combination of harbour and outside courses will be used including the round the island race (If conditions suit) over the four days of racing. The warm weather and clear waters surrounding the legendary and duty-free islands are a feast to enjoy and to top it off the organising team have gone to great lengths to plan daily, fun-filled prize giving parties to dance the night away.