sail-world.com -- Raja Muda 2012 – Tiptoe to Langkawi
Raja Muda 2012 – Tiptoe to Langkawi
Fri, 23 Nov 2012
To start with, it looked pretty much the same as yesterday. Good on a postcard, not so good for sailing. After standing by in the appointed starting area just outside Straits Quay Marina on the off chance of a filling sea breeze, and watching the becalmed fleet hiding under shade canopies until the 1200h start time, RO Jerry Rollin hoisted the ‘L’ flag and started motoring up the course to Langkawi in a search for breeze.
Two hours later (1h 50m to be precise) at a gentle trolling speed (sorry, no fish!) of a little under 10kts, and some may have been wondering whether a motoring rally was the order of the day. But the wind had indeed been found, a good 8kts of it, and at 1400h away went all classes in good order with no recalls. Still ‘wish you were here’ visuals, but with a respectable WNW breeze to launch everyone on the remaining 30-odd miles of the course.
But it’s never as simple as that along the west coast of Malaysia. Any developing sea breeze would give a left hand shift, and any stray rain cells would produce… well, practically anything. Eight hours later the Santa Cruz 72, Antipodes, took line honours at the entrance to Bass Harbour, Langkawi, in a mere 3kts of left-overs after a big storm cell had crossed the top end of the course from NE to SW. ‘We never stopped,’ said nav Alan Tillyer, ‘but the wind was soft and fluky all the way, and again and again we tacked on 40? shifts to keep pointing in the right direction.’
It was the same story from the rest of the boats as they arrived at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club’s thoroughly pleasant watering hole, Charlie’s Place. No stops only a weak contrary current, but a case of tiptoeing through the minefield of shifts and gasps all the way up the track. Second across the line was the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Utarid, some 23m later, and then all the usual suspects from Class 1 – KukuKERchu, EFG Bank Mandrake, Ichiban, Katsu, and Foxy Lady bringing up the rear. By midnight Class 2 had all finished as well, except Relapse.
Once upon a time, midnight at Charlie’s Place was a packed mass of thirsty sailors working their way through stacks of beer coupons, running the staff ragged with continuous orders of burgers and fish and chips, and swapping endless stories about the same glorious races. Times have changed. Now the order of the day seems to be a quick beer-and-a-bite, and off to the hotels for some kip. No more arm-waving and ‘we went left like this, and they went right’ – otherwise known as Sailors’ Karate.
The venerable Eveline, Dato’ Richard Curtis’s century-old Bristol Pilot Cutter, scored a sparkling corrected time victory in Class 6, finishing at 0417h and knocking Lady Bubbly into second place by 1h 8m in corrected time. Unusually, it was not Eveline that was last to finish the race. Many a brave Race Officer has foreseen the dawn as soon as they spotted Eveline at the pontoon in Port Klang, but this time it was Sidiqi bringing up the tail of the fleet and closing the finish line at 0450.
After a few days of the Raja Muda programme, competitors, race officials, regatta management and even the ever-alert media are apt to ask, ‘what day is it today?’ The compounded effect of passage races, late night finishes, quasi-lay days, ‘socials’ and inshore racing tends to play havoc with the time zones. If it’s Langkawi, it must be Friday… or is it?
Yes, Virginia, today is Friday. Penang-Langkawi was yesterday. Today, racing in Bass Harbour for the Cruising classes and multihulls. Tomorrow, same same for everyone, and then the prizegiving gala dinner. Or is that Sunday..?