10-13 kts of breeze and sunshine made for a good start for the fleet sailing out of Pulau Pangkor on the second leg of the Raja Muda heading for Penang.
You can draw a straight line from start to finish for this passage race on the chart, but reality is that there is a notorious sand bar – the Kra Bank – guarding the finish line at the south end of Penang. A bit like a huge bunker right in front of the green on a golf course.
All divisions went away ‘clean’, with most of the fleet staying on starboard after the start and heading out to sea before sailing into a big right shift which sent everyone back towards the rhumb line. From there on it was “remarkably uneventful” in the words of Sarab Jeet Singh (Windsikher). The tactical throw for this race is how best to negotiate the Kra Bank – the bigger the boat, the deeper the draft, and the further west it is necessary to sail to get round the end of the sand. “We tacked with less than 1m under the keel,” said Singh, “went out a little further, and then came back cleanly, heading for the finish line.”
After (only) two races it’s tight at the top of Class 1, with Windsikher (1, 3) Ramrod (2, 2) and Otonomos Mandrake III (3, 1) all sitting on four points. Ramrod struggled yesterday with a broken luff foil, but ‘solved’ the problem by punching a couple of holes in the luff with a screwdriver and tying the sail to the headstay. A sort of partial storm jib attachment?
Class 2 is obviously going in for a socialist scoring system – four boats all on five points apiece, so that’s a re-start beginning tomorrow. Fast Track’s run of dodgy luck continued yesterday when they ended up with not one but two damaged headsails – being replaced today in preparation for tomorrow – but that didn’t stop them from scoring a first place en route to Penang. Owner Richard Barnhurst is probably wondering who has been unglueing the seams of his sails while they have been in storage.
Having been re-assigned to Class 4, Fujin has taken up cudgels with a vengeance, scoring two bullets from two races. “Six up is quite sufficient for a 44ft boat,” said Jamie Wilmot. “As long as everyone knows what they are doing!” Having this year swapped his J/92 NiJinsky for a J/130 Jing Jing, RSYC Commodore (and RMSIR President) Jeff Harris kept close company with Insanity (John Kara) all the way up the track, but fared less well on corrected time, finishing third to Insanity’s second.
The Faye Khoo Memorial Cruise, aka La Samudra, leads Class 6 after the two opening passage races. Skipper Dominic Liddell has declared himself satisfied with progress so far. “Of course we are here to win,” he said, “but equally we are here to remember all the good times we had sailing with Faye in the Mat Saleh crew in numerous Raja Mudas over the years.” Nobody who knew Faye is ever likely to forget one of the liveliest characters to grace this event. She is, and always will be, sorely missed.
This evening the sailors will swap sheets for handlebars, racing rickshaws along the waterfront at Penang’s Straits Quay Marina. According to the Rickshaw Racing Instructions, “The Race Officer will be whoever on the Organising Committee is sufficiently sober at the time,” which go on to say that “All starts will be standing type, provided the driver can still stand.” That is probably all you need to know, but we’ll be bringing you pictures of the thrills and spills a little later.
Standing by on 72.
1. Otonomos Mandrake III 3, 1 (4)
2. Ramrod 2, 2 (4)
3. Windsikher 1, 3 (4)
1. Fast Track 4, 1 (5)
2. Zuhal 3, 2 (5)
3. Antipodes 2, 3 (5)
4. Starlight 1, 4 (5)
1. Fujin 1, 1 (2)
2. Jing Jing 2, 3 (5)
3. Insanity 5, 2 (7)
1. Kinabalu 3, 1 (4)
2. Lady Bubbly 1, 3 (4)
3. Mystic River 2, 4 (6)
1. La Samudra 1, 2 (3)
2. Marikh 3, 1 (4)
3. Old Pulteney Cabaret 6 2, 4 (6)
by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia