Jalur Gemilang Challenge 99

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AZHAR GETS A HERO'S WELCOME

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Jalur Gemilang photo.JPG (7851 bytes)LANGKAWI, Wed. - Perlis-born mariner Dato' Azhar Mansor was welcomed home today by more than 3,OOO people as he became the first Malaysian to sail solo round the globe and the first person ever to set a new solo west-east circumnavigation route.

AM Photo 2.JPG (8572 bytes)As his RM2 million Jalur Gemilang yacht docked at the jetty adjacent to Awana Porto Malai, where theprime Minister first flagged him off on Feb 2, 1999, Azhar was greeted by his wife Sara Maria, their children Eizaz, Elliz and Eizhan and his immediate family members in an emotional hero's welcome.

Following this, he was met by Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and wife Y.Bhg Datin Seri Dr. Siti Hasmah Ali, who were present for the official welcoming ceremony, where Azhar handed the Jalur Gemilang flag to the Prime Minister.

Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir then presented the official Jalur Gemilang Roadshow vehicle, the lsuzu Rodeo, to Azhar on behalf of Automotive Corporation Malaysia Sdn Bhd (ACM), a member of the DRB-HICOM Group.

Also present at the grand ceremony were Menteri’s Besar of Kedah and Perlis, Cabinet Ministers, state exco members, sponsors of the world challenge and well wishers from all walks of life. Before docking at the jetty, Azhar was greeted by patrol boats from the Malaysian Marine Police some 200 nautical miles out to sea.

About 20 nautical miles from Langkawi, a flotilla of more than 50 boats and yachts gathered to welcome Azhar and the Jalur Gemilang. The vessels were from various Government agencies including the Marine and Fisheries departments, Marine Police and the Royal Malaysian Navy.

As the Jalur Gemilang, which crossed five seas, four continents and five capes, approached for docking, four RMAF aircraft and three microlite planes zoomed past as water cascaded out from various points of the jetty.

In his speech, Azhar thanked the Prime Minister, the Government of Malaysia, his family, relatives, friends and all Malaysians who had prayed and sent him greetings throughout his challenging journey.

Azhar also thanked his sponsors, especially presenting partner Kumpulan Gapadu Sdn Bhd and in particular its chairman Datuk Emam Mohd. Haniff and managing director Mr Desmond Lim, for making his dream a reality.

"I really appreciate the support given to me for the Jalur Gemilang Challenge by presenting partner, Kumpulan Gapadu."

Azhar also took the opportunity to thank supporting partners Penas Corporation Bhd, Sapura Group, NatSeven TV Sdn Bhd (NTV7). Awana Porto Malai1 Projek Lebuhraya Utara Selatan (PLUS), Bina Puri Holdings Sdn Bhd, MMS Miller (Insurance Brokers) Sdn Bhd, Dorlon (New Zealand) Ltd, AWL – KOTE (Singapore) Pte. Ltd, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), Automotive Corporation Malaysia Sdn Bhd (ACM) and Bloomingdale Advertising Sdn Bhd.

Azhar said that his success was not just personal glory but an achievement that was shared by all Malaysians. "I hope my achievement will inspire younger generations in the years to come as it is proof to them that Malaysians are world achievers and can succeed in anything they do," he added.

Azhar had initially set out to be first person to take the West-East route and also beat the solo world record of 105 days, 20 hours and 31 minutes achieved by Frenchman Christophe Auguin in 1997. However this was shattered when the mast of the Jalur Gemilang broke near the Falklands on April 25, 1999, forcing Azhar to head for the mainland. Following this, Azhar nearly declared the Jalur Gemilang unseaworthy but decided to continue as Malaysians and Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad rallied behind him to continue his journey.

His challenge was reclassified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. (WSSRC), United Kingdom, as Langkawi to Langkawi - Solo Round The World, Assisted With Stops, East-bound.

After spending 30 days in the Falklands, a new 20-meter long mast costing RM 150,000 was flown and fitted by a 17-man crew from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). The flight, commanded by Lt-Kol Fadhil Sheikh Ahmad, also went down in history as the first Malaysian military aircraft to fly round the world. Azhar resumed the journey to complete the challenge from the Falklands on May 26, 1999.

Azhar's successful completion of 21,600 nautical miles from Langkawi to Langkawi has been verified by the WSSRC in the United Kingdom.

Ends

Issued by Bloomingdale Advertising Sdn Bhd on August 11, 1999.
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