Penang has over the years delivered some of the hottest, lightest, flukiest and most frustrating sailing weather of the entire regatta.
Fix-it suggestions have ranged from the simple “scrap the Penang Inshore races” to the more fanciful “why not use the rickshaw results, instead?”, neither of which have gained much traction. What usually happens is that there is a long wait, a few water balloons, and boats motoring around just to get some breeze across the deck, and then the sea breeze arrives in the nick of time and the RO saves the day with a couple of short, sharp windward-leeward races for the Racing classes while the Cruisers head for the horizon on a big circular-ish course.
Surprise, surprise. This morning started blustery, grey and wet, and everyone thought the great Penang Breeze Curse had been broken. Especially alert sailors noticed (after the rain had stopped) that the breeze was coming from the land and south of east instead of the customary west. Never mind – breeze is breeze, and we can race with it.
In spite of a shortage of on-water assets caused by nearly all the policemen in Malaysia being ‘borrowed’ for something political (and therefore much less important than a regatta) in Kuala Lumpur, the PRO and his helpers – which included the camera boat – had Cruising and Racing courses laid out in almost no time, and the starting sequence began just 30 minutes late in 10kts of good sailing wind.
After a short hitch to a windward mark, the Cruising classes (2 and 6) set off towards the east, and the Racing classes followed suit on a 2nm leg sausage course. EFG Mandrake and Black Baza got spat out on the wrong side of the Committee Boat, but everyone else – in all divisions – started clean. [Note: the camera boat (and this writer) missed much of the subsequent action on account of a drifting mark that had to be chased down and re-laid.
Windsikher was first up-and-back, making the round trip in 45 minutes, and it looked like an 80-minute or so race – so far so good. Alive lost a man overboard on the first run, and retrieved him. And then on the second beat, suddenly – nothing happened. The wind collapsed in a moment and left all boats in the Penang Roads gasping for air like stranded fish. It took Windsikher another 33 minutes to crawl up to the windward mark and a Short Finish after 1h 13m. Millenium Racing followed on (1h 99m) and then Alive (1h 34m). Last boat home on the shortened course was Uranus after a protracted 2h 24m for a 3nm course.
Racing Classes 3 and 4 were shortened at the end of the first sausage, and the Cruisers 2, 5 and 6 somewhere ‘over there’. Last boat home was Eveline, missing the cutoff, alas, by four minutes, whilst Aeolus XC behind her had already retired.
It was a miserable let-down of a day after such a promising start. It is also a very good example of why it is utterly daft to try and run sailing as a tv sport. “Racing 2.00pm Saturday” is all very well for the 2 o’clock at Newmarket come rain or shine, but it doesn’t work well for sailing when the weather fails to deliver suitable conditions. See above. Which is why the recent LV AC World Series in Bermuda was great as a spectacle for non-sailors, but utter nonsense for those of us who quite rightly expect a regatta to consist of several days rather than just three races of 14m, 13m an 12m on one afternoon, crammed into a 3hr tv schedule that includes ad breaks and a lot of explanatory waffle for the non-sailors. Sorry if I am riding my hobby-horse here (I am) but it is true.
There being no chance of running another race in time for any cutoff this side of Christmas, the RO very sensibly raised N over A and sent everyone home with enough time for a shower and a splash of Old Spice before heading for the evening’s entertainment and prizegiving party at the Khoo Kongsi, probably one of the most spectacular sailing party venues anywhere in the world. There, the appropriate thanks and congratulations were delivered, and the prizes for yesterday’s passage race from Pangkor and today’s half-a-race-instead-of-two. Sailors are phlegmatic and patient beings. They have to be, because they rely on the weather for their sport, and they have all learned that the weather doesn’t always cooperate. After a couple of beers and some excellent from the street stalls at the venue, frustrations were all but forgotten.
Tomorrow’s passage race to Langkawi starts at 1300h, weather permitting!
Short Results (full results can be found at
1. Windsikher 1, 5, 1 (7)
2. EFG Mandrake 4, 1, 4 (9)
3. Millenium Racing 2, 6, 2 (10)
Class 2 Premier Cruising
1. Antipodes 1, 1, 1 (3)
2. Starlight 2, 2, 2 (6)
1. Fujin 1, 1, 3 (5)
2. Rikki Tikki Tavi 2, 2, 5 (9)
3= ReKering Dream 3, 4, 4 (11)
3= Popeye 4, 5, 2 (11)
1. Farrgo Express 1, 1, 1 (3)
2. NiJinsky 2, 2, 2 (6)
3. Old Pulteney Blue Angel 3, 3, 3 (9)
1. Sophia 1, 1, 1 (3)
2. Lady Bubbly 2, 2, 2 (6)
3. VG Offshore 3, 5, 3 (11)
1. Marikh 1, 2, 1 (4)
2. Kay Sira 3, 4, 2 (9)
3. Aeolus XC 2, 3, 6 (11)