over bar the shouting...
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16:02:2013 The Cruisers started early from the Karas Besar anchorage and made quick work of the Riau Strait to a shortened finish line near Bintan to complete their series. The Racing classes assembled offshore from Nongsa Point Marina expecting two more windward / leeward races. Half way through the first race the wind faded and they struggled with a strong cross current to complete the race. Thereafter the threatening rain cells descended over the course area and after several attempts to get Race 2 underway proved fruitless, PRO Jerry Rollin eventually called it a day. Back to the marina, calculate the results and award the prizes at the closing ceremony became the order for the rest of the day.
The final race win for David Ross Ker 40 Kukuerchu sealed the deal for the defending champion and must be commended for bringing some sailing superstars to the party and celebrating the spirit of Neptune. A fine performance by Steve Manning's Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2 kept the Kukuerchu crew on their toes and the competition alive throughout the event for second place. Despite being up and down the order and a mid sea collision forcing them to retire, Jon Cray's Swan 42 Sea BASS ended up third in a regatta they will remember for a long time.
Although Jean Philippe Proust Corsair C28 Manao Express won the last three races it was not enough to unseat Scott McCook's Corsair Dash 750 The Dash from the top of the podium and had to settle on second place. The change of sailing plans and the demise of other competitors along the way, helped Stuart Birkbeck's Corsair F31 Tri to Fly to slip into third place and an experience thoroughly enjoyed by the whole family.
Except for a hiccup in the Garmin Race to the Equator, Antony Hastings Beneteau F 52.5 Baby Tonga won four races and dominated the Premier Cruising class. They probably won the drinking competition after consuming 45 cartoons of beer and various other liquids amongst the 10 crew. Peter Moore's Warwick 53 Shahtoosh put in a gallant effort and climbed the order in the final two races to secure second place. Not finishing the first leg of the return race and fourth in the final race drops Ashley Barnes Curren 42 Defiance down to third place after starting out strongly.
Falling of the pace a bit towards the end, Matthew Lutter's X-332 Minx has done enough in the earlier races to hang onto the Cruising Class title. By winning today's race Mehdi Khaled / Chris Schuler Westsail 32 Mico Verde secured second place and must be commended for the medical services he has provided during the event. Second place today for Greg James Élan 350 Naya has them tied on points with Mico Verde but is reduced to third overall on countback.
The battle of the Lagoon 450's turned the Cruising Multihull Class into a one way street, when Peter Schwarze's La Gaeta won all five races leaving Gary Matthews Katrianne floundering in his wake.
5 - We are on the way back
A welcome return of the North Easterly tradewind after a couple days of mixed weather sent the yachts briskly on their way. Most skippers opted to go through the startline, spin around the pin end mark and take Neptune Island on the favourable port side, although it was the race committee's intention that they take the island to starboard.
Rip currents through the narrow passages between the islands plays a big part in this part of the world. Apart from a bit of close reaching after the start, most of the 70nm course back to Batam is a hard upwind slog, weaving their way between the islands. At the halfway point David Ross Ker 40 Kukuerchu and Steve Manning's Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2 were neck and neck, covering each other every inch of the way. Surprisingly Antony Hastings Beneteau F 52.5 Baby Tonga was up threatening the leaders. A long trail of yachts interweaved with islands could be seen in the distance.
As day turned into night the leaders in the racing classes still had 30 miles to go and some lead changes had occurred. Most the cruisers made it to the Karas Besar anchorage before sunset with the stragglers arriving after dark.
Eventually Steve Manning's Walawala crossed the Batam finishline at 2124hrs followed 8 minutes latter by David Ross' Kukuerchu, citing having to stop and clear a clump of seaweed from the rudder is what made all the difference. This result leaves Kukuerchu on the top of the table by one point.
Mixed fortune turned the Racing Multihull results on its ear. Crew member on The Dash incurred a back injury and had to be evacuated delaying their departure from Neptune Island and arrival in Batam to 0520 in the morning. Two boats decided to call it a day and decided to stop with the cruisers at Karas Besar. Against all odds Jean Philippe Proust Corsair C28 Manao Express sailed on regardless to win the race.
Antony Hastings Beneteau F 52.5 Baby Tonga stayed on the pace right to the finish and added another win to their tally to dominate the Premier Cruisers. Despite a port / starboard collision in the middle of the sea, Peter Moore's Warwick 53 Shahtoosh managed to clean up the damaged davits and go on to claim second place. Stuart Manley's Pyrenees came good with third place to bring a new face to the finishing order.
The big boats in the Cruising Class came through to finish the race in time. Greg James Élan 350 Naya had the legs to notch up a win in front of overall leader Matthew Lutter's X-332 Minx. Mehdi Khaled / Chris Schuler Westsail 32 Mico Verde pushed on to finish under sail, despite Mehdi's medical skills being required for the injured sailor and were granted redress to take third place.
Peter Schwarze's La Gaeta stayed on their winning ways to record their fourth win in the Cruising Multihull Class over Gary Matthews Katrianne.
Without his ole Royal Marine buddy's on the shore crew and the support boats provided by Robin Kydd from Oceantalk and La Marca Marine with the ZAR-Formenti line of RIBs this event would not be possible. This regatta is all about having fun, out of the usual comfort zone and is recommended to people looking for an excuse to get away from it all and mix with similar people. It reminds me of an advertising slogan used by the Northern Territory Tourism Board many years ago " You'll never never know, if you never never go!" So mark down Chinese New Year in your sailing calendar and come aboard for some ole fashion fun.
More details check out the Neptune Regatta website.
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