Established in 1990, the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta (RMSIR) is Malaysia's oldest keelboat sailing regatta and one of the region's premier sailing events. It is also one of the very few offshore passage racing regattas in the region, the others being Australia's Sydney to Hobart race, and Hong Kong's China Sea/San Fernando and Hong Kong to Hainan races.

The Regatta takes place each November over the course of 9 days, and is timed to finish a week prior to the Phuket King's Cup, as many yachts compete in both events. It alsofeatures four harbour races (two in Penang and two in Langkawi). This year’s Raja Muda Regatta raced from Friday 16th to Saturday 24th November. The regatta opened in Port Klang on Friday 16th with a welcome party where the Regatta Patron HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah and VIPs presented plaques and welcomed the participants.

On Saturday 17th, the yachts left Port Klang at 1:45pm and raced 90 nautical miles overnight to Pangkor Island, arriving in various stages Sunday morning. That evening there was a beachside prize-giving party at the Seaview Resort attended by local Perak officials. On Monday 19th, again at 1:45pm, the yachts raced overnight 65 nautical miles to Penang Island arriving Tuesday morning, just as the heavens opened and the rain, thunder and lightning put on quite a show for the regatta participants. On Tuesday afternoon, there was a trishaw race followed by a hawker food street party at the Tanjong City Marina in Georgetown. On Wednesday, there was a harbour race in the waters north of Tanjong Bungah followed by more prize giving at the historic Khoo Kongsi temple. On Thursday the 22nd, again using that 1:45 start, the yachts raced 55 nautical miles overnight to Langkawi arriving early the next morning. Friday was a spare day for yachtsmen to relax, do some sightseeing and some duty-free shopping.

On Saturday the 24th, there were a series of windward/leeward races within Bass Harbour, followed by the final gala prize giving at the beautiful Royal Langkawi Yacht Club dinner graced customarily by HRH Sultan of Selangor and other notables. The race has been hailed as a “tactician’s regatta” as the strong currents, tides and sea and land breezes demand utmost concentration and planning. The Straits of Malacca  were once one of the most dangerous passages in the world due to pirates. But today, it’s not pirates that sailors fear, but container vessels, fishing trawlers, buoys and floating debris.

The regatta’s night passages can be particularly hazardous as many of the area’s fishing boats only use the “Bic system” for illumination, that is flicking a Bic lighter just before a yacht’s bow cuts them in two. At night in the Straits of Malacca, you can get the sense of what the sailors of yore used to endure during their expeditions. Image being out there without a compass, or GPS, on a misty or foggy evening preventing you from using any landmarks for identification, not knowing who was lurking about the dark wanting you or your cargo. It runs under the IRC Handicap System and is open to Racing, Cruising and Classic classes. It is run under the auspices of the Malaysian Yachting Association, a member of the IYRU. Five International judges sit on the Race Committee and a Measurer is in attendance. This year an international flotilla of over 41 yachts participated. Note: The Raja Muda is the son of the Sultan of Selangor and the event is run under Royal Patronage (www.rmsir.com).

THE PEOPLE

Regatta Director John Ferguson defines grace under pressure as he’s one of those rare folks who has the ability to calmly make decisions when all hell is breaking loose. The former Commander in the British Royal Navy, and current general manager of the Royal Selangor Yacht Club (www.rsyc.com.my), did a fabulous job of organizing and conducting the event. Then there’s Captain Marty Rijkuris, a walking encyclopedia of sailing knowledge. For more information about him and what he does check out http://AsianYachting.com.

At this regatta, as always, Captain Marty was ably assisted by business partner Hasslan Ismail who records and uploads all the race results as they come in. Subscribe to Captain Marty’s monthly newsletter (it’s free), for news about sailing throughout Southeast Asia. And what would a regatta in this part of the world be like without photographer Guy Nowell, after all, he photographs more of them than anyone else. The ebullient Nowell races around from start to finish trying to get the best photos off the yachts involved in the regatta and if you catch up to him at one of the parties he’s bound to make you laugh with his litany of lore (www.guynowell.com).

John Ferguson, Captain Marty and Guy Nowell form the Regatta’s “Three Wise Men”. If these three don’t know what happened, it probably didn’t. And Regatta Chairman Commodore Dato’ Richard Curtis oversees the whole affair. If not for his tenacity, tact and negotiating skills the Regatta would have a hard time getting off the ground. The international jury in this year’s regatta consisted of Chairman Bryan Willis (GBR), Chu Say Ng (MAS), Katsuya Hashiba (JAP), Lock Hong Sit (SIN), and Leonard Chin (MAS). The official Measurer and Safety Officer was Dave Richards of Australia. And the principal race officer was Jerry Rollin, currently based in the Philippines.

ROYAL SELANGOR YACHT CLUB

The Royal Selangor Yacht Club, which organizes the regatta, was formed by a group of enthusiastic dinghy sailors in the late 1960s and originally called the Port Swettenham Yacht Club. The club’s growth over the next two decades was fueled by increased prosperity and an interest in boating from both the expat and local communities in the Port Klang Valley. This lead to an expansion of the club grounds to include a swimming pool and functional Colonial-style clubhouse.

In 1994, the clubhouse was burnt to the ground due to a fire that started upriver in a chemical plant and spread to the clubhouse destroying it and most of its records. The new club was designed by a past Commodore of the Club, renamed the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, and was granted a royal charter by the Sultan of Selangor. Today, it is largest member yacht club in Malaysia. However, the RSYC is still located in an industrial area, suffering from air and water pollution, floods and infestation. So plans are underway to move the club to a new site and marina on Pulau Inaah. This will allow members to berth and store their boats in kindlier surroundings, with speedy access to the Straits of Malacca. Last year, the RSYC was granted Royal Yachting Accreditation as a Training Centre for sail and power boat courses for adults and children (one of only two in Southeast Asia). The Club is also designated as a national training centre for the Malaysian Keelboat squad, and it hosts youth fleet and match sailing races. www.rsyc.com.my

CAPTAIN MARTY’S REGATTA WRAP UP

“Ever since Ray Roberts steered his DK46 Quantum Racing across the line to capture the Penang to Langkawi passage race the crew has been on fire. The final day was no exception, full of confidence they went out and scored two wins out of two races and convincingly became the 18th winner of the Raja Muda trophy. Not to be out done, Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns Mills 51 Fortis Mandrake tried as hard as they could to put Quantum Racing behind them but as Fred Kinmonth stated, ‘We could not shake them off, they just kept on hanging in there.’ For all the aggravation the defending champion Fortis Mandrake finished with two second-place finishes, which saw them retain second overall.The out-going tide and eagerness to get going saw two boats across the start line early and despite loosing precious minutes returning to restart the new factory owned DK 46 Janda Baik skippered by Khairul Shahril managed third place and able to hold onto third overall. First and third for DK46s - what a wonderful result for the Malaysian boat building company.

“Despite Dr Ian Nicolson's Dubois 80 Intrigue winning the final inshore race, second place for Hans Rahmann's 70ft Judel/Vrolijk Yasooda was enough for them to win the overall IRC Class 2 title. Third place for Neil Williamson's Oceanis 523 Resolution of Whitby gave them third overall. Although the results don't show it the fully appointed big heavyweights Yasooda and Intrigue staged a ding-dong battle over the last few races which was a delight to watch. Yasooda scored two double-scoring passage race wins and the Penang inshore race to build up an insurmountable points lead during the early races to put the class win out of reach of the other competitors.Dr Ian Nicolson's Intrigue finished second overall and Neil Williamson's Resolution of Whitby a valiant third overall.

“Two first places in the final day for David Lindahl's Swan 42 La Samudra sealed the fate for the IRC Class 3 racers. Dr Jon Wardill's Cassidy 55 Australian Maid had been applying pressure all week but fourth and second place in the last two races saw them slip up but still retain second place overall. After a bad start to the regatta, the Royal Malaysian Navy's DK Farr 520 Zuhal with Khairuddin Mohamad on the helm steadily improved their placings and finished third overall. With a little more crew training and implementing efficient spinnaker handling drills they could go on to greater heights. A resounding crunch echoed around Bass Harbour when John Blay's Walawala collided with the start boat just as PRO Jerry Rollin announced on the radio ‘Please don't hit my boat!’ to win the ‘Unluckiest Sailors of the Regatta’ award.

“Aquavit IV the Elan 340 skippered by Bob Howison steadily picked up four wins during the regatta to stay on top of the leaderboard. Even seventh place during race five did not deter them much, as first and third finishes in the final day clearly put them on top of the IRC Class 4 podium. Several boats have been knocking on the door putting in good performances but after handicaps were applied somehow Aquavit IV always came out on top. Vincent Chan's Titan 36 Mata Hari started off poorly but climbed up the order very quickly and pushed aside some title contenders to end up second overall. Gerry Firth's brand new Beneteau First 34.7 Skandia dipped down in the middle races but rebounded with two second places today to leapfrog Keith Dunn's Mountgay 30 Lunchcutter II into third overall.

“Discovering a last minute electrical fire onboard Simon Piff's Rainbow Dream in Penang may have forced them to retire from Race 5 but did not deter them from making their way to Langkawi and winning the final inshore race. Gavin Welman's Hallberg Rassy 53 Rascal proceeded on undeterred by other boats misfortunes to claim second place today which accumulatively gives them the lowest points and the overall Non-IRC Class 5 title. Last minute redress for Peter Jones Bashford Howison 41 Jenny III secures them second overall but sixth place in the race to Langkawi may have been their downfall. Jon & Sandra Stonham's Robert Perry 47 Tui Tai has consistently been up with the leaders but sixth place in race 2 kept them down in third overall.

“Aussie Don McGrath's Oram 44 Cat Out of the Bag scored their fourth victory at the shortened finish line and went on to handsomely win the overall Non IRC Class 6 by a country mile. Dato' Richard Curtis's Gaff Rigged Cutter Eveline had a miserable last race but still managed to finish second overall in front of his old foe Simon Morris's Sirius 1935, which had a up-and-down regatta. John Mitchell's Crowther Cat 35 Merpati Putih rounded out the four-boat class with a second place on the last race and fourth overall.”

CLASSES

Class One – IRC I (Raja Muda Cup)

Class Two – IRC 2 (Premier Cruising yachts over 50ft LOA (Jugra Cup)

Class Three – IRC 3 Yachts over 40ft LOA

Class Four – IRC 4 Yachts 40ft and less LOA

Class Five – Non-IRC Cruising and less LOA

Class Six – Non-IRC Vintage – yachts built before 1950, or to a pre-1950 design

www.rmsir.com

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