By any accounts, it was a classic start from Penang today as the fleet set out for Langkawi on the last passage of the series. Glass calm at the advertised start time, and a motoring session up the track looking for breeze.
Consulting his GPS record, PRO Jerry Rollin noted later that the eventual position of the start line was within 200m of last year’s – a lesson to be learned when writing the SIs next year, maybe?
That was where the breeze was (12kts from 310 degree, and with the rhumb line to Langkawi at 330 degrees), which built to a healthy 18kts over afternoon and whistled Alive home at the front of the fleet for Line Honours and a Class 1 win in daylight. “Yes, it was a waterline length race,” said skipper Duncan Hine, “and we made the most of it. One tack all the way, and the lift towards the end allowed us lay the finish.”
Fast Track was one of the few boats to take a hitch to the right, which cost them time and distance, and dropped them into second place in Class 2. Matt Humphries was calling the shots, and has been here before – “I just didn’t expect the lift to be that much,” he said. Having worked their way through most of the sail wardrobe over the last few days, Fast Track expressed themselves happy that “we didn’t blow up anything today.” Ironic – seeing as today was the strongest breeze of the regatta so far.
Fujin scored another bullet at the front of Class 4 after recovering from a sub-par start in stealth mode. Not so much the second row as somewhere at the back of the stalls, underneath the balcony. “We were at the boat end where we wanted to be,” said helmsman Jamie Wilmot, “but there were some other boats that wanted to be there too.” And in Class 6 La Samudra reported a “fabulous” sail, straight up the rhumb line, which earned her another first place – one more nod to Faye Khoo in passing.
For everyone on sailing boats it was a good day on the water – well, maybe not for Simba, who broke her rudder and was subsequently assisted by both Chantique and the Royal Malaysian Police’s safety boat, PA50, ‘sweeping up’ at the back of the fleet. But for the Race Officer and his crew, and a couple of flinty media types on the RMP fast RIB, it was a rather different story. Driving at 20kts into an 18kts headwind (do the sums) on a choppy sea very rapidly turns into a fire-hose exercise.
I now know that I have no ambition to join a Volvo Ocean Race crew: I am sure that it is exhilarating to bulldoze a 65-footer across the North Atlantic at 25kts, but after half an hour so I’d like to go back to the bar and tell amazing salty stories to all my friends. Maybe share a video or two on Facebook – all in good taste and with good humour of course. Maybe the freeze dried food stokes you up for the experience (ha ha), but when you have found out after only the third Malacca Straits muddy greenie that your ‘spray’ jacket may be relevant to a light dalliance with a lawn sprinkler but has absolutely nothing to do with actually going to sea… and when today’s lunchtime sandwich has turned into very soggy Subway bread paste, and the wrapper has disintegrated into mush and is blocking the cockpit drains… and when the smiling police Superintendent is saying, “there’s always a price for speed,” then it definitely time to go the bar at RLYC for fish and chips and a very powerful rum-and-coke. What is normally a 2-hour entertainment on flat seas became a 3 1/2 hour thrash, with Langkawi in sight but never seeming to get any nearer. Those GPS thingies that tell you there are still 2 hours to go should be banned.
Of course, as soon as we had passed the finish boat and roared up the entrance to Bass Harbour and the RLYC, we all realised that it had been a huge adventure, and we had loved every minute of it. The fish and chips were good, too. Tomorrow the media have ordered 12kts of breeze and bright sunshine, if that suits everyone?
One harbour race is scheduled tomorrow for the Cruising fraternity; two for the boy racers. First warning signal is at 1355h, to allow today’s earlier finishers to recuperate from their dinner, and the later boats to recuperate from their arrival. See you on the water.
Standing by on 72.
Short Results (for full results go to www.rmsir.com and double click on ‘Results’)
1. WindSikher 1 3 2 1 2 (9)
2. Otonomos Mandrake III 3 1 3 2 3 (12)
3. Ramrod 2 2 1 4 4 (13)
1. Fast Track 5 1 1 2 (9)
2. Antipodes 2 3 4 1 (10)
3. Starlight 1 4 2 3 (10)
1. Fujin 1 1 1 1 1 (5)
2. Jing Jing 2 3 3 4 2 (14)
3. Prime Factor 3 5 2 2 5 (17)
1. Kinabalu 3 1 3 1 (8)
2. Lady Bubbly 1 3 4 5 (13)
3. Iseulta 6 2 2 3 (13)
1. La Samudra 1 2 3 1 (7)
2. Marikh 3 1 1 4 (9)
3. Old Pulteney Cabaret 6 2 4 2 3 (11)
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia