The Royal Langkawi International Regatta celebrated it’s tenth year this year, with 36 boats competing in seven classes, in what has become one of the hotly-contested regattas on the Asian circuit.
An archipelago, Langkawi is the largest island and home to the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, founder and host of the Royal Langkawi International Regatta.
One of only a few marina-based regattas in Asia, participants experienced a variety of courses and race areas over the five days.
In addition to welcoming back familiar faces, the Regatta organisers welcomed a number of new boats and crews this year.
One crew in particular was Team Hooligan, lead by Marcus Blackmore. Racing for their first time in Asian waters, the team arrived on the back of an undefeated Australian campaign.
The 2012 Regatta started with racing in Kuah Harbour and a series of windward-leewards for the IRC classes. Principal Race Officer, Simon James, got the fleet off on time and the 10th anniversary regatta was underway.
In the IRC Racing Class, stalwarts of the Asian regatta scene, Jelik II, skippered by Frank Pong, and Team HiFi, skippered by Neil Pryde, were up against Asian newcomer, team Hooligan, skippered by Marcus Blackmore, and the two identical DK 47s, Utarid and Uranus, from the Malaysian Navy.
The two Malaysian teams were evenly matched, and tracked each other closely throughout the five-day series. After 10 races, Uranus took third overall with Utarid in fifth – the Malaysian Navy boats split by Jelik II.
Team HiFi put up a spirited challenge, but in the end Hooligan were too strong, and took the title, with Team HiFi in second.
The IRC 40-footers are becoming the hottest class in Asia and at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta, they did not disappoint. The fleet of four put on a close show with local Malaysian favourite, Mata Hari, taking two wins on the first day. Ben Copley’s Swan ‘Katsu’ narrowly missed out on some top-level finishes, but kept pushing Mata Hari and Jing Jing throughout, with Singaporean entry, Tantrum, snapping at their heels.
After a slow start to the series, Chinese entry Jing Jing, finally found her winning ways and went on to clinch the series win on the very last race, by a single point.
In the IRC 2 Class, five boats with multinational crews were challenging for the title. Of the five, three were returning from last year, including 2011 winner Phoenix.
While favourites on paper, Phoenix didn’t have it their own way as Skandia Endeavour Of Whitby scored two wins on the first day, and lead the series going into the penultimate day. A disappointing fifth from Skandia Endeavour Of Whitby saw Phoenix take her chance, and go on to seal the win on the final day by a single point.
The Sports Boat Class was made-up of five one-design 25ft Farr-designed Platus, and included three teams from Malaysia. Windward-Leewards, Coastal Courses and an ‘Around-The-Islands’ course could not separate the fleet.
Top places were traded throughout the week between pre-regatta favourites, Singapore Management University, and the Malaysian Armed Forces. Going into the final day and the last race of the series, before discard both boats were equal on points.
Singapore Management University got a good start and lead around the first two legs, with the Malaysian Armed Forces in third behind Malaysian Yachting Association/ KFC. On the penultimate downwind leg, Malaysian Armed Forces moved into second and a tacking duel ensued.
There was nothing between the three boats as they headed to the finish. A mere four seconds separated them on the line, with the Malaysian Armed Forces taking the win by two seconds from Singapore Management University. After discard, the two were equal on points and the Malaysian Armed Forces won the series on count-back.
Three-time winner Grenville Fordham, skippering Andaman Cabriolet Nina in the Multihull Class, got off to a slow start with a last place finish in the first race.
Slowly finding his feet, he couldn’t do anything to halt the flying Fantasia who finished the series unbeaten, winning seven from seven, and claiming the class crown.
Age and beauty don’t always mix, but they can often do so in sailing. The Club Class, the largest class with nine boats, and the Ocean Rover Class, with four boats, proved to be as hard fought as any of the other classes in the Regatta. While the 100-year old Grand Dame, Eveline, would likely have won an award for “most beautiful”, in the races no quarter was given in either class.
In the Club Class, by mid-series, three boats were in the running for the title. Smystery was proving to be inconsistent, Free Wind had a couple of poor finishes pulling her down, and Rascal was keeping both in her sights. Going into the final two days, Smystery finally showed her true colours, and finished with a first and a second to take the title by just two points.
My Toy ran away with the Ocean Rover Class, winning with a six point margin. However, this does not reflect how close the racing was on-the-water. In some cases, after almost five hours of racing, only 13 seconds separated the top two on corrected time.
The 2012 Royal Langkawi International Regatta will be remembered for good winds and top competition… And great social events.
As the week came to a close, winners were presented at a poolside Gala Dinner at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, presided over by special guest and former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahatir bin Mohamad.