Today’s start line in the mouth of the Klang River looked very unpromising with an hour to go, but the breeze came in and all divisions set off on schedule, starting with the Cruising class at 1300h. Eveline surprised all the spectators by not only being in the start area at the right time but also second across the line.
7kts for the first starters, and 10kts by the end of the sequence 35 minutes later, steady from the west, a calm sea and sunshine. After 45 minutes Alive had worked her way through to the front of the pack, just in front of Antipodes, and the two biggest boats in the fleet were all set for a long-legged reach to the finish, 68nm away.
Speeding north on the Royal Malaysian Marine Police RIB with the assistance of 600 horses, it was a fast and easy run, with evidence of weather cells building over the coast to the northeast – a promise of some sort of weather action for the boats coming up from behind.
First across the finish line was Alive (Div 1) at 2055h which constitutes some sort of a record, although the course was shortened last year to cut off a well-known light patch between the Simbilan Islands and Pangkor, so what’s the record? Second boat home was Antipodes (Premier Cruising) who reported “an entirely uncomplicated race. Reaching in 10kts all the way until the expected transition (the weather coming off the coast) pulled the breeze round to the northeast. We went with the knock, flipped over, the breeze re-built and we sailed straight to the finish line. It was the easiest transition we have seen on the Pangkor race,” said skipper Matt Humphries. There was a small technical disagreement between Antipodes’ afterguard (“There was a little bit of rain – hardly anything at all”) and the stalwarts on the rail (“We got totally soaked. Twice”).
Windsikher followed on just 34 minutes later in Div 1, and corrected out for the division win over Ray Roberts’ Millennium Racing by 7m 45s. They, too, had a clean run without complications. “Concentration was the premium item,” said Sarab Jeet Singh, “squeezing every last tenth out of the breeze.” By midnight all boats in Div 1 and 2 were finished, with the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Uranus closing the door at 2343h. That, too, must be some sort of a record.
Fujin (Gordon Ketelby) opened the batting in Div 3 with a whopping 2-hour win over Rikki Tikki Tavi (Chris Furness) both on the water and on corrected time. Simon Piff’s ReKering Dream came in third by a whiskery two minutes only. Piff has completed six Raja Mudas on “my other boat, Rainbow Dream, a rather sedate Lavranos 10.3. Sailing on a skippy little Ker 32 is a bit different. We’re going to win this division, or die trying, but most of all we are going to have fun.”
The media crew came ashore at Pangkor at dusk yesterday and made sure that the beer at the Seaview Resort was appropriately cold (it was). The prawn sambal was appropriately hot and the view, as ever, was delightful. Soon after, the baggage boat arrived.
Moving the Raja Muda circus along the coast is a substantial feat of logistics: the Race Office (everything from printers to people) moves, the ‘cargo’ moves (do you want to race with all the delivery sails on board?), and the ‘luggage’ (personal effects) moves, from Klang to Pangkor to Penang to Langkawi. Some travels by road, and some of it travels by sea. Pangkor is an island, so the truckload of luggage has to offloaded onto a barge, and driven round the island to Pasir Bogok and unloaded again. There are no conveyor belts or luggage carousels here.
And after that it was just a matter of waiting for the boats to arrive and collate the news from the crews coming ashore. This morning’s sunshine and calms gave way to a strengthening westerly before midday, boding well for tomorrow’s race to Penang. Before that there’s the prizegiving party and that ‘unforgettable’ karaoke competition to get through, and the Raja Muda rolls inexorably on.