today and entering a new era...
This unique event consists of three overnight passage races and two days of “round the cans” harbour racing scheduled during the Penang and Langkawi stopovers. After the welcome dinner tonight, the passage race from Port Klang to Pangkor Island starts tomorrow 20th, then onto Penang Island on the Monday 22nd, where the usual Tri-Shaw Races, Harbour races and slap up dinner party at the beautiful Khoo Kongsi clan house will be taking place. Off again to Langkawi Island on the Thursday 25th for the final day's racing in Bass Harbour plus the farewell party and prize-giving at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. Along the way, dinners and parties are organised at the stopovers, combined with some good ole Malaysian hospitality, the social activities have created a distinctive friendly atmosphere that some other regattas can only strive for. For many crew members, these onshore activities can be almost as demanding as the sailing! Considered a real test of endurance where the winning crews are usually made up of persons with iron resolutions.
At the skippers briefing it was revealed that at last count 45 yachts have formally registered for the regatta with a good balance across all 6 classes. There is 4 IRC classes and 2 Non-IRC classes (one of which is for classic style yachts). In his swan song speech Commander (Rtd) John Ferguson announced the course changes in Lumut to head for the new Pangkor Marina and competitors go around Penang to the north as construction work on the second bridge is well underway at the southern entrance.
As reported in the November 2010 - AYGP Newsletter "Hong Kong boat owners are the stalwarts of the big boat racing scene in East & SE Asian waters during the migratory regatta season. There will be 4 of the popular TP 52 designs in the Raja Muda. Sam Chan’s newly acquired TP52 FreeFire, Geoff Hill’s Strewth, Frank Pong’s recently acquired TP52 Jelik V with China’s highly successful Olympic dinghy sailor, Xiaqun Song, on the helm and all-Chinese team of sailors, trying to get a piece of Ray Roberts Evolution Racing. Arch rivals Neil Pryde's heavily modified Welbourn 52, Hi Fi and the Kinmonth/Burns Farr/Mills 51 EFG Mandrake have both won the Raja Muda before and are very familiar with the course and forever changing conditions. They all will have to overcome the biggest boat in the fleet, Frank Pong's 75’ Reichel Pugh, Jelik III which usually takes line honours in every race but will have to be on top of their game to convert over to handicap wins."
Returning to the Premier Cruising class this year to attempt a hat-trick of victories in a row, Antony Hastings' Baby Tonga will be defending the title with the assistance of Strongbow cider, their primary sponsor. The Beneteau F53 will be skippered by Aussie sailing legend Fraser M. Johnston, a Tonga regular since the campaign began three years ago. With the NE Monsoon arriving early this year and if it continues in strength into next week, Dr Ian Nicolson 80ft Intrigue is the biggest boat competing in the fleet, may benefit from the strong conditions. Other prominent regional sailors doing battle in the class are past Jugra Cup winners Peter Cremers Shahtoosh, Hans Rahmann Judel Vrolijk 21.3m Yasooda, Jon Wardill's Cassidy 55 Australian Maid. As will the supporter of long distance cruising in comfort, RSYC Commodore Dato Alex Nah's Hunter 14.9m Virgo will have their hands full with the Malaysia Armed Forces Farr 52 Zural skippered by Ishak Jab who were the 2008 IRC 3 Class champion and expect to repeat the performance. New inclusions this year are Alex Takhovski's Russian entry LeRo and John Caffin's Jeanneau 53 Dont Think Twice skippered by James Hardie that had a ding dong battle going at Phuket Raceweek earlier this year.
IRC Classes 3 & 4 includes almost all the RSYC cruiser/racers that compete throughout the year at the club, that at the end of August had 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 Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore, so the competition is expected to be fierce. Steve Manning's Beneteau First 44.7 Walawala leads the charge and relishes the opportunity to compete on passage races as a welcome respite from windward leewards. After tasting victory at Phuket Raceweek in July this year, Bryan Gauson's Farr 1104 Piccolo, the 1976 Sydney Hobart Race winner hopes to repeat the success the previous owners had on the 2001 Raja Muda.
Amongst the club boats in the IRC 4 class are Vincent Chan's Bakewell-White 36 Mata Hari, Neil Ankcorn's Farr 1104 Mat Salleh, Jeremy Camps Pele Peterson 10.7 Cabaret 6, Jega Muniandy's X 342 Leopad Dream, John Kara's Dehler Skybird and Jeff Harris Elan 340 Rapscallion are expected to shine. There biggest threat is David Ross' defending champion Kerr 32 Kukukerchu that has claimed victory at the Singapore Straits and Koh Samui regattas this year. The boat comes stacked with world champions on down including Adam Minoprio and Tom Powrie from BlackMatch Racing and Jono Rankine who recently helped the TP52 Lucky take out the Middle Sea race
Fourteen well established Raja Muda racers round out the Non IRC Cruising Classes 5 & 6 including Andy & Jenni Brennan's Delphia 40 Jenzminc VI, Robert Hennessey's Windstar 16 Cognac, Japan's Yasuto Fuda's Van De Stadt 11.4 Fortissimo 8, Ken Barber's Hunter 410 Unity that broke its mast last year. Ken Yap's Hunter 9.72 Millennium 2, Roger Harris Jeanneau 15.3 Simone, Simon Connor's Olson 10 Sapphire Star, B Elsbury's Nautor Swan 15.6 Apsara and Gavin Welman's Hallberg-Rassy Rascal has won here before.
A clutch of Classic yachts led by Dato Richard Curtis 100 year old Bristol Pilot Cutter Eveline, Simon Morris Sirius 1935 this time skippered by his son James, Malcolm Elliott's Peterson 46 Coup de Soleil that won the Singapore Classic Race and Tim Wilson's 20m Cutter-Ketch El Oro was built for Baron Bich in 1972 as a cruising version of the famous French Whitbread RTW winner - Kriter. They will all be taking on the smallest boat in the fleet, the Malaysian Armed Forces Contessa 34 Musytari skippered by Norhafizam that won the 2009 Classic Class and hope they can successfully defend the title this year.
At this stage in proceedings nobody really knows what is going to happen and is best summed up by Simon Piff on the Lavranos 10.3 Rainbow Dream. "In the past I have had a fire onboard, a rigging failure, 30 litres of diesel floating around the bilge and amongst all that a romance blossomed to become a wedding. Who knows what will happen this year ... but it will be a lot of fun regardless".
The enthusiasm for the Raja Muda seems to be undiminished and the 21st edition should turn out to be just as challenging and enjoyable as its predecessors.
This RMSIR 2010 is kindly bought to you by the following supporters