new to somewhere old...
31:01:2011 The idea of a race to the equator has been floating around for a few years but it took a concentrated effort by John Tudor and his friends to bring it to reality. As the power boats don't have organised events, it was decided to incorporate them into the fold as well. So the inaugural Neptune Regatta was born and the team got excited about organising the World's only sailing regatta and motor yacht rally, that centers around a race to the equator and back. Using various social networks and creating a web site quickly raised a lot of interest in the Singapore boating community, which sees 9 sailing yachts in two classes and 4 power boats of various sizes entering the inaugural event. Several early entries have withdrawn for various reasons.
Everything centers around the Nongsa Point Marina Resort in Batam, Indonesia and the event has been endorsed by the Indonesia Sailing Federation with huge support from the Indonesian Navy and other individual vessels for the committees use. A number of reccee's were conducted to determine the accuracy of the charts, check the tidal currents, meet with island communities and choose suitable gates and anchorages in the prevailing weather conditions. The very experienced Jerry Rollin (Principle Race Officer) and Alex “Ferret” Voss (Safety Officer & Naviguessor) were appointed to make a tentative program and conduct the race.
After extensive research they came up with a course for the PY Class and Powerboats from Batam, Indonesia, down the Riau Straits overnighting at Karas Besar and Pulau Buaya before proceeding to the Equator to endure King Neptune's wrath. The Racing class yachts will do windward/leeward courses on the first day and then proceed to the equator in one shot on Day 2 before joining the others at the Pulau Buaya anchorage.
At the Equator a finish gate will be set on one side of the committee vessel and after King Neptune's welcome to the Southern Hemisphere, skippers can choose when to restart on the other side of the vessel for the return leg. Further celebrations will be held afterwards on Neptune Island just south of Pulau Buaya (Crocodile Island) were the local fishing village is the closest form of civilization will ferry crews ashore and provide some cultural entertainment.
The return voyage to Batam for the PY Class and Powerboats is in two stages and the reverse order of the outbound leg. The racing class will return in one shot and have two further windward/leeward races of Nongsa Point Marina to finish their program. As this is the inaugural year Alex “Ferret” Voss is quick to remind us that changes will be made to suit the conditions along the way and for future years.
Nongsa Point Marina is situated at 01 degree 12 minutes North which is 72 nautical miles from the equator as the crow flies. Several passing gates will be set along the way were courses can be shortened if needed. Ever since the last race of the Singapore Straits the heavens above have opened up and virtually non stop rain has dampened the spirits and caused some inland flooding. However as this report is being compiled the sky has cleared and the wind has returned to hopefully blow the rain away before start time tomorrow.
The five entrants in the IRC class are Sarab Jeet Singh's Sydney 40MOD Windsikher, Hellmut Schutte's First 45 Aquavit 5, Adriaan Smit's X99 Power Partners, David Ross' Kerr 32 Kukukerchu and Stewart Mclaren's Archambault 35 Men at Work completes the lineup.
Four boats in the PY Class include Chris Schuler's Westsail 32 Mico Verde, Simon Piff's Lavranos 10.3 Rainbow Dream, Simon Morris classic staysail schooner Sirius 1935 and Daniel Whittington's Ericson 28 WYSIWYG.
Motor Yachts include Drew Gardenier's Buehler 71 Hooligan, Madhupati Singhania's Pershing 80 M.Y. Mantra, Leen Janse's Sea Ray 47 Nehalennia and James Harris' Sunseeker Manhattan 60 Something Special.
Tim Wilson's 20m cutter rigged ketch El Oro was built for Baron Bich in 1972 as a cruising version of the famous French Whitbread RTW winner - Kriter, is skippered by Simon Blundell and crewed by Myanmar nationals will be serving as the start/finish boat and accommodating the media with all the trimmings of air conditioning and comfortable cabins for the duration of the event. So we can't wait to get going...
Full details check out the Neptune Regatta website.
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