Raja Muda Regatta hits new high as 20th celebrations get underway...
An amarda of sailing yachts have either made their way up the Malacca Straits or come down from Phuket, to join with Malaysian sailors and celebrate the 20th running of this classic regatta. Imagine that some of these International boat owners and crew have spent at least one week every November, slogging it out from Pt Klang to Langkawi over the last 20 years. Malaysian politicians and government officials are often surprised to find hundreds of foreigners congregating at the RSYC, all having a good time at the gala welcoming dinner held in their honour. How long has this been going on? Perhaps it has been under the federal governments radar all these years but sail boat racers are a funny lot - give them a stretch of water, start/finish line, decent bar, restaurant, music and they are a very happy bunch, anywhere in the world. The Selangor State Government has heavily supported this event and enjoyed considerable success in promoting their state on the International stage.
At last count 54 yachts have formally registered for the regatta with a good balance across all 7 classes. There is 4 IRC classes, 2 Non-IRC classes (one of which is for classic style yachts) and an OMR Multihull class being assembled by Henry Kaye, the first winner of the Raja Muda Cup in 1990, and now prominent multihull sailor based in Phuket.
Nine formidable racing teams are contesting the high performance Racing Class IRC 1 and also competing for valuable points in the 2009-10 AYGP Championship. For the first time in Asian history four TP52's Geoff Hill (Strewth), Bill Bremner (Foxy Lady), Ray Roberts (Evolution Racing) and Sam Chan's (Ffreefire 52) will be lining up against Neil Pryde's custom Welbourne 52 (Hi Fi) and Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth custom Mills 51 (EFG Bank Mandrake) on the start line. Neil Pryde, Ray Roberts and Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth are former Raja Muda Cup winners who rank the event format as one of their favourite's and return year after year just to try once more. With the NE Monsoon arriving early this year and if it continues with strength into next week, veteran campaigner Frank Pong's (Jelik III) at 75ft is the biggest boat and long overdue to convert the three passage race line honours into handicap wins and most likely to run away with overall victory. Making there first appearance together is Sarab Jeet Singh's Sydney 40MOD (WINDSIKHER) and Rodney Keenan's tweaked up Farr 11 (TAZO TOO) built in Dubai by Premier Composite Technologies. What looks like a scaled down Volvo 70, TAZO TOO has a canting keel, twin rudders and daggerboards on a 36 footer has caught the measurers eye and will have to go like a bat out of hell as they have to beat the TP52 over the line to have any chance on handicap.
Other prominent regional sailors doing battle in the Premier Cruising Class are past Jugra Cup winners Peter Cremers (Shahtoosh), Hans Rahmann (Yasooda), Jon Wardill (Australian Maid) as will the doyen of long distance cruising in comfort, Dr Ian Nicolson (Intrigue) at 80ft is the biggest boat competing here. Two past RSYC commodores Hijjas Kasturi (VALTAIR) and Dato Johan Ariff (LA SAMUDRA 2) will be having a grudge match with present commodore Alex Nah (VIRGO). Antony Hastings (Baby Tonga) have been performing exceptionally well at regional regattas but will have their hands full with the Malaysia Armed Forces (ZUHAL) skippered by Mohd Razali puts his match racing skills to the test.
IRC Classes 3 & 4 includes almost all the RSYC cruiser/racers that compete throughout the year at the club and have been sneaking in some pre-regatta practice on the first leg during the annual Merdeka Regatta from Port Klang to Pangkor. They are joined by similar sized yachts from Thailand and Singapore, so the competition is expected to be fierce. Ben Copley (KATSU) leads the charge in IRC 3 with Robert Van Paridon (TANTRUM), Bob Howison (L'AUTRE FEMME) and Keith Garry (BEAUX ESPRITS) expected to be heavily in contention.
Amongst the club boats in the IRC 4 class Stuart Williamson's (SKANDIA EOW), Vincent Chan (MATA HARI), Neil Ankcorn (MAT SALLEH), Jeremy Camps (CABARET 6) and Jeff Harris (RAPSCALLION) are expected to shine. Up from Singapore Jon Mahony's Farr 30 (HAPPY ENDINGS) and David Ross' new Kerr 32 (KUKUKERCHU) will be going all out to break the local domination. Bryan Gauson (PICCOLO) has just finished a complete make over on the 1976 Sydney Hobart Race winner and hopes to repeat the success the previous owners had on the 2001 Raja Muda.
The non-IRC classes include well established Raja Muda racers as Simon Piff (Rainbow Dream), and a clutch of Classic yachts led by Dato Richard Curtis (Eveline), Simon Morris (Sirius 1935), Malcolm Elliott (Coup de Soleil) that won the recent Singapore Classic Race, Mark Blasky (SARI TIMUR) and the Malaysian Armed Forces Contessa 34 (MUSYTARI) that have won here before.
The newly revived multihull class will join from Penang and try to cram in as many races as they can in Penang and Langkawi. Henry Kaye's Seacart 30 Thor is going for line honours and Grenville Fordham will be keeping them honest on his Phuket built Andaman Cabriolet Niña. Everyone at the Raja Muda host club Royal Selangor Yacht Club is hoping that this debut of serious Multihull racing will lead to a larger fleet in 2010.
After the welcome dinner tonight, the racing starts from Port Klang to Pangkor on the 14th, onto Penang on the 16th, where the usual Tri-Shaw Races, Harbour races and slap up dinner party in the beautiful Khoo Kongsi clan house will be taking place. Off again to Langkawi on the 19th for the final day's racing in Bass Harbour plus the farewell party and prize-giving at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. This is a real test of endurance on and off the water where the winning crew is usually made up of people with iron resolutions.
In spite of lean economic times, the enthusiasm for the Raja Muda seems undiminished and the 20th edition should turn out to be just as challenging and enjoyable as its predecessors have been.
This RMSIR 09 is kindly bought to you by the following supporters