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Raja Muda 2017

After a good blow on the passage race to Langkawi, the fleet had two days of inshore racing remaining to complete the series. That adds up to a total of nine races for the racing classes (1, 4) and six for the cruising divisions (2, 5, 6). There are no discards, so every point counts, and all races – passage and inshores – count for equal points.

Friday’s racing took place in picturesque Bass Harbour, with a trip ‘down south’ around some cans and bushes for the cruisers, and two short, sharp, windward/leeward courses for everyone else. Sunshine was not on the agenda for the most part, but there was good breeze all day, starting at 12kts and topping out at more than 18kts in the gusts by closing time.

The RO’s dilemma in Bass Harbour is that it is a fairly narrow stretch of water, and when the breeze is anything east of 045? it becomes difficult to squeeze in a beat of an appropriate length. Today started at 050?, so it was a bit tight at the top end, with some shallow water protecting the starboard approach to the pin for the deeper-keeled boats. But it worked…

Saturday dawned wet, windless and uninviting, and the AP was raised on shore. By 1100h Charlie’s Bar at the RLYC was full to the brim. When the AP came down at 1108h the mass exodus was remarkable – you’ve never seen a bar empty so quickly.

So for the closing day of the 2017 Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta, edition #28, there was an islands race for CVlasses 4, 5, and 6, and two windward/leewards for classes 1 and 2. One of the great delights of sailing in Langkawi is the scenery (we’ve said it before!) and even under grey skies the unlikely-looking islands and spiky skyline look like something from an imaginitive movie set, but this is not computer-generated.

Fujin, helmed by Jamie Wilmot, gave Class 4 a masterclass in how to move gently between islands, with a demo of Extreme Rock Hopping thrown in. How close can you go? Well, you can’t go any closer than eight bullets from eight races, and this crew didn’t put a foot or a sheet wrong all the way through the regatta. Wilmot along with skipper David Fuller have completed 20 Raja Muda regattas, and are showing no signs of stopping. (And for those who like theoretical analysis, if there was an IRC Overall score for this regatta, Fujin would have been second behind WindSikher.)

Fortissimo X (Yasuto Fuda) proved that they are really are better on the short courses by winning all the in-port races (one in Penang, two in Langkawi), and the globe trotting Kinabalu (Bob Howison) saved enough points to stay at the top of the Class 5 result sheet. La Samudra, sailing as the Faye Khoo Memorial crew, and with proper party manners to match, sailed into second place in Class 6 on the last day to finish the regatta with a two-point lead over Old Pulteney Cabaret 6. Faye Khoo would have approved.

Having sailed ‘islands’ yesterday, Class 2 – Premier Cruising – were given a taste of the tough stuff for their final outing. Alan ‘Guilty’ Tillyer, navigator on board Geoff Hill’s 76ft Antipodes, started the day by saying “really we prefer the longer races when we can make the waterline count. Round the cans, especially in light breeze, is not our preferred racing mode.” Nonetheless, a bucket of enthusiasm got the big boat round the course very smartly for a 1, 2 scoreline and kept them at the top of Class 2 to win the Jugra Cup.

Just one point behind after seven races was Richard Barnhurst’s Fast Track, a First 45 with a story to tell. In race 1 (Port Klang to Pangkor) they split the mainsail, evacuated two crew towards the coast by hailing a fishing boat, and got a man up to Langkawi to retrieve another main from storage and back to Pangkor in time to start race 2. Scoring RET (fleet +1) for that race may have cost them the regatta. Over the next six races they worked their way through the entire wardrobe of headsails, suffering one delamination/split after another, but still stayed in touch on the scoreboard. On the first leg of the last race, another split headsail was quickly replaced by the last shot in the locker – a J4.

Otonomos Mandrake III and Jing Jing. 2017 Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta. © Guy Nowell / RMSIR
Otonomos Mandrake III and Jing Jing. 2017 Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta. © Guy Nowell / RMSIR

Tactician Matt Humphries said, “there was a bit of a park-up in front of us, so we hoisted the J4, tacked away, sailed around everyone else in the flat patch, and won the race. But for that first score, and finishing with three wins from eight races, we were well in contention for the title. Seems like we’ll have to come back…” Fast Track are hereby awarded the Sail-World Asia Trophy for sheer cussed perseverence – to be collected in beer at the RHKYC Main Bar.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed] The 2017 Raja Muda Cup goes to Sarab Jeet Singh’s WindSikher. Singh purchased the boat (formerly Neil Pryde’s HiFi) in 2015, and promptly wrote himself and his all-Singapore crew into the records by winning the Raja Muda. There were additional celebrations when they came back and repeated the performance in 2016, and as far as we know, nobody has won the event three times in a row before – huge congratulations to all concerned. WindSikher scored 2, 3 in the closing races of this year’s series, but were still six points clear of Otonomos Mandrake III (Burns/Kinmonth) in second place. Gordon Kelby’s chartered Farr 40, Ramrod, punched above her weight to take third place just one point back.

Speaking on the occasion of the 25th RMSIR, founder Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said, “It was a good idea at the time (1989), with the intention of snaring a few of the boats going north to the then newly-inaugurated Phuket King’s Cup. We thought it would last for a couple of editions… maybe five…” 28 years later, and the RMSIR shows no signs of slowing down, let alone being stranded on the Kra Bank. Lasy night’s closing dinner and prizegiving was a pleasantly noisy affair, and the afterparty in Charlie’s Place was still in full swing at 0300h – that’s a good thing!

If the Raja Muda is famous (and it is) for being a hugely enjoyable event, it is also notorious for delivering fickle winds from frustrating calms to full-blow busters that roll off the Malaysian coast in the form of thunderous storm cells. This year was a great deal more even, and perhaps one of the best events, weather-wise, for a long time. The first passage race went a bit soft, but after that there was breeze all the way. Even the Penang Inshore races started on schedule, and the last leg up to Langkawi was a trip to be enjoyed by all.

32 entries this year is not a huge number on the Sailing Richter Scale, but truth to tell is the right sort of number for the Raja Muda when items such as berthing and the movement of the Race Secretariat from Port Kland to Pangkor to Penand and then Langkawi are taken into considerstion. It’s a logistical tour de force, and all praise is due to the small army of Royal Selangor Yacht Club regatta organisers and RLYC staff who make it all possible – congratulations and thanks, one and all.

Race Management is a good deal trickier than for a single-base regatta, too, with finish boats being despatched ahead of the fleet on the passage races, overnight shifts demanded of AROs and the results team, and so on. It’s no good suddenly discovering that you need another blue flag for a short finish in Langkawi when the spares have all been left in Penang! (No, that was a ‘for example’, not something that really happened!) Both management and competitors alike are well aware that nine days ‘on tour’ is actually hard work – the series of sprints quickly add up to be a full-blown marathon. It’s the nature of the beast – to win, you have to keep going all the way to the end.

So well done to the RSYC once again. Well done to Connie Lai and the Secretariat, well done Jerry Rollin and the Race Management. Over the last 14 years I have probably had more fun and enjoyment at this regatta than any other in Asia. It is a unique event, and long may it continue and thrive. “9 days, 4 locations, full on!”

Looking forward to 2018, and always standing by on 72.

Short Results
(for full results please refer to and double-click on the ‘Results’ tab)

Class 1: The Raja Muda Cup
1. WindSikher. 1 3 2 1 2 1 1 2 3 (16)
2. Otonomos Mandrake III. 3 1 3 2 3 4 3 1 2 (22)
3. Ramrod. 2 2 1 4 4 2 4 3 1 (23)

Class 2: The Jugra Cup
1. Antipodes. 2 3 4 1 1 1 2 (14)
2. Fast Track. 5 1 1 2 3 2 1 (15)
3. Starlight. 1 4 2 3 2 3 3 (18)

Class 4
1. Fujin. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (8)
2. Prime Factor. 3 5 2 2 4 2 2 2 (22)
3. Jing Jing. 2 3 3 4 2 3 4 3 (24)
Class 5
1. Kinabalu. 3 1 3 13 3 (14)
2. Lady Bubbly. 1 3 4 5 2 2 (17)
3. Fortissimo X. 4 7 1 4 1 1 (18)
Class 6
1. La Samudra. 1 2 3 1 2 2 (11)
2. Old Pulteney Cabaret 6. 2 4 2 3 1 1 (13)
3. Marikh 3 1 1 4 3 3 (15)

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia

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