1998 Raja Muda International Regatta - Summary
by Captain Marty Rijkuris

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RMIR Trophy.JPG (6862 bytes)Reflecting back over the 1998 Raja Muda International Regatta brings back some happy memories of competing against an International star studded lineup of yachts on Malaysian waters. Combined with the joy of winning and dispersed with some unfortunate moments of despair and disappointment for some. The most memorable of all is starting well and keeping the yacht moving as fast as possible towards the finish line with whatever the Malacca Straits weather gods could produce between the 23rd – 28th of November 1998.

The Raja Muda International Regatta is considered the most difficult and tactical regatta to win over the other regional day-sailing regattas. As the degree of difficulty in yacht racing increases and severely tests the yachtsman’s navigation skills on the overnight passages between Pt Klang, Pangkor, Penang and Langkawi.

RMIR Official Costume.JPG (5437 bytes)Winners of the RMlR classes can stand proud of their yachting achievements and have historically gone on to take the annual Sir Thomas Lipton Perpetual Cup Series and podium finishes at the Singapore Straits Regatta, the Kings Cup in Phuket, Thailand and the Presidents Cup in the Philippines.

RSYC Commodore Dato’ Abdul Aziz and his voluntary RMIR 98 organizing committee and the Royal Selangor Yacht Club staff must be congratulated for shouldering the workloads and responsibilities towards the annual RMIR and pursuing sail training programs to get Malaysian sailors up to speed, despite the present regional economic downturn. As no major sponsor could be found the club had to rely on local advertisers and smaller sub-sponsors like QBE and Club Marine Insurance to undertake some of the costs involved in running the RMIR 98. They have become a committed partner to developing pleasure yachting pursuits in the Austral-Asian region.

RSYC Race day pontoon.JPG (8325 bytes)Although the number of international competitors who come to Malaysia to contest decreased to 17 yachts, the quality of the 27 strong fleet which included 10 of the best prepared Malaysian yachts assembled around the RSYC pontoons in Port Klang on Nov 22nd was impressive. The Raja Muda of Selangor, Tunku Idris hosted a grand opening dinner and welcomed back past competitors Jon Wardill and Capt. Jason on Australian Maid, Ray Ordoveza and his new Philippine racing yacht Karakoa and the Thai and Singapore racing teams on Octopussy, Fizzbizz and Simba in the cruising division.

Newcomers from Australia, Trevor Taylor on Neftenga a Humphries 50 and Dale Peterson on his Swan 57 Cowzie Dancer where welcomed along with Hong Kong’s Allen Fan Yu Hao’s yacht O’Feeling and Singapore’s X-EL racing team. Andreas Bienz, the Swiss Olympic yachtsman has chartered the Singaporean yacht Jenny 3 for a second time crack at the RMIR and the crew are running hot after placing 2nd in racing class at the newly time slotted Singapore Straits Regatta completed only 7 days before.

Lumut marina.JPG (7896 bytes)Malaysian hopes in the racing classes rest with the Rahim brothers on Gotcha and Martin Axe on Serang along with Commodore Dato’ Abdul Aziz’s yacht Impiana and George Viczena’s newly rigged Radford 50 Capricorn. Past RSYC Commodore Hijjas Kasturi’s 80 foot yacht Mia and present Vice-Commodore Gee Boon Kee’s Hunter 40 Second Serenade are out to defend the cruising class titles and Mohammed Arshad on Sang Bayu and Wan Azuar on his newly purchased Panacea are hoping to gain some valuable racing experiences.

After many years of careful restoration work Malaysia’s own Richard Curtis has completely refurbished the old Eveline and Capt. Hennings has prepared his German registered Baiana to take on the visiting classic yachts of Jenzminc from Australia and Kim Buntings, Star of the West en route from New Zealand. With Capt. Arrifin skippering Dato’ Megat Najmuddin’s catamaran Windsong the Malaysian entrants seemed to be well represented and poised to put in their best performances.

Racing action.JPG (5139 bytes)When racing started in earnest the visiting big guns came out in force. Australian Maid fired the first broadside by taking the first overnight leg from. Pt. Klang to Pangkor followed by Karakoa and Jenny 3. Malaysia’s Gotcha managed a credible 4th in racing and Boon Kee’s crew on Second Serenade a 2nd in the cruising division behind Singapore’s Simba.

The uncharacteristic 12 to 18 knot north to north westerly wind persisted to blow down the Malacca Straits between Pangkor and Penang during race 2, and paved the way for very quick finishing times. Only 10 minutes of corrected time separated first place Jenny 3 and fourth placed Neftenga, with Australian Maid putting in another big performance to take 2nd place by 4 minutes and 15 seconds from a fast finishing Gotcha. In the cruising division the big boats also came to the fore with Hijjas Kasturi’s maxi sized Mia taking the honors and the Swan 57 Cowrie Dancer taking 2nd place over the smaller yachts like Simba and Second Serenade.

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Starting action.JPG (4315 bytes)The RMIR has also become known for its mixed social activities with good OLE Malaysian makan (tasty food) and hospitality thrown in. 1998 was no exception with presentation dinners at the Lumut Yacht Club and the Langkawi Yacht Club. In Penang the Boom Boom Bang Bang night club provided an excellent venue to stage pirate’s night, where the hidden talents of the Philippine race juror put a new dimension to the old Shakespearean statement "The world is but a stage".

J3 sailing action.JPG (4331 bytes)The recipe for success over the short Penang triangle course lasting only a few hours requires a good start followed by the crew quickly optimizing the boats speed to the conditions being experienced. Jenny 3’s Olympic helmsman specialty is triangle races and selected the best coarse after correctly predicting windshifts and current directions to take first place from the bigger yachts Karakoa, Australian Maid and Neftenga. Gotcha finished a distant fifth and the shining star of the Malaysian yachts began to dim or be overshadowed by the bigger yachts performance.

The entire cruising class fleet could not complete the coarse within time and where awarded a DNF. Jenzminc and Star of the West remained locked in 1st and 2nd placing in the classic class and Bob Zorner’s Australian catamaran The Boss dominated in the multihull class.

LangkawiYC bar.JPG (5481 bytes)Race 4 saw a surprising lull in proceedings, as the entire fleet lay becalmed for up to five hours after the start in Penang. For those who patiently tried to sail their boats were rewarded with nature unleashing an explosive night of mini thunderstorms and produced a wet and furious scramble to the finish 1ine at Langkawi. The Gotcha crew bounced back into contention and sailed itself into the history books to become the first Malaysian owned yacht to ever win a race in the premier racing class of the RMIR. Perhaps the years of perseverance had finally paid dividends as Serang, Malaysia’s other hopeful made it a one-two finish for the nights work to be followed by Singapore’s X-EL and Jenny 3 in 4th. With the larger yachts being relegated to 7th or worse the series opened up for a Malaysian-Singapore/Swiss-Australian finale showdown.

As the new windward/leeward coarse was being laid inside Kua Bay between the picturesque Langkawi Islands it had become evident to Afendy and his loyal group of race officers that the previous nights blustery conditions had moved on, leaving only a variable 5 to 8 knot light southerly with flat seas. The overall RMIR 98 title bolder and podium places had gone down to the wire and would depend on how the yachts reach the finish line on this final race of the five-race series. All local hopes rested with Amir Zohri and his Gotcha racing team, as another win would threaten the lead held by Singaporean-based Jenny 3.

Langkawi spinnaker action.JPG (5987 bytes)As the mid-day starting gun signified the commencement of racing Gotcha, Jenny 3 and Karakoa emerged unscathed from a crowded and noisy starting area, with speed and determined to outdo each other in the fickle conditions. Geoff Bishop, a visiting Australian sailmaker joined the Gotcha’s crew, who responded in earnest and sailed an almost perfect race, only to loose valuable minutes when they become entangled on the last rounding buoy’s mooring line.

Jenny 3 put together another impeccable performance although slowed as they dueled with Karakoa to win over Gotcha by a slender margin of 13 seconds on corrected time. Martin Axe guided Serang to a valuable 3rd placing helping Gotcha to secure 2nd overall and relegate the Australian Maid team to third place overall. Ray Ordoveza’s crew on his new yacht Karakoa must be congratulated for they took five line honors awards although could not convert them to wins after handicap calculations had been applied.

LYC aerial.JPG (8670 bytes)In the cruising division Simba had accrued enough wins to secure first overall. Boon Kee’s Second Serenade came back to take first place in the last race after repairing a stranded forestay that had kept them from competing on races 3 and. 4 Cowrie Dancer and Hong Kong’s O’Feeling took out 2nd and 3rd overall, respectively.

Bob Zorner’s Australian catamaran The Boss out classed the two other designs to score five strait firsts on line and handicap on the trot. As predicted in the classic class Jenzmic took first place over Star of the West who outperformed Eveline and Baiana who where probably too busy having a good time enjoying their yachts and entertaining their guests.

Next years RMIR will mark the 10th anniversary of this annual regatta and already the dates of 19-27 November 1999 have been set. Ivan Lee the RSYC manager has indicated that the emphasis will be to celebrate this milestone of achievement and all inquiries regarding prospective entries, crewing, chartering yachts and sponsoring this prestigious regatta can be directed to him at the RSYC, Jalan Limbongan, 42000 Port Klang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. Tel: 603-3686964 Fax: 603-3688650.

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