The 10th Singapore Straits Regatta began today off the Changi Sailing Club on the East Coast of Singapore. This is the largest sailing event in Singapore and the third event on the Omega Asian Yachting Circuit.
A fleet of 31 yachts and three hundred competitors from 8 countries will battle for five days in the waters around Singapore for the title of Champion. After the first two events on the Omega AYC Australia's 'Hollywood Boulevard' sits atop the leadership table just one point clear of three yachts - Hong Kong yachts 'Hi Fidelity' and 'Stella' and Malaysia's 'Yo!' In the first race of this regatta defending champion Ray ORDOVEZA aboard 'Clariden Karakoa' finished ahead of Neil PRYDE'S 'Hi Fidelity'. 'Hollywood Boulevard' came in third.
For the past few days the fleet has been gathering on the waters off Singapore's East Coast. Each day a few more boats were moored off the Changi Sailing Club and the atmosphere has been developing. Finally registration closed yesterday and 31 boats had entered for this, the 10th Singapore Straits Regatta and the third event on the Omega Asian Yachting Circuit. Over the next five days the fleet travels from Singapore's eastern shores across to Indonesia's Riau Archipelago for two days of windward/leeward racing off Batam's Nongsa Point before returning to Changi for another day of competitive action. The fleet is divided into three fleets - Category A (the elite racing division), Category B, and Category E (the apparent rejection of the letters C and D does have an reasonable (but long winded) explanation…
Defending Champion is Filipino yacht 'Clariden Karakoa' skippered by Ray ORDOVEZA. 'Clariden Karakoa' scored her first victory at the Singapore Straits in 2003 and she will be looking to repeat that feat. Coming away from the previous Omega AYC event (the Phuket King's Cup) with a second place means she is also in form but in her way will be Hong Kong yacht 'Hi Fidelity' skippered by Neil PRYDE. 'Hi Fidelity' won the regatta in 2002. And fresh from victory in the first Omega AYC event in Malaysia (the Raja Muda International Regatta) is Australian Yacht 'Hollywood Boulevard' skippered by Ray ROBERTS. This recent victory, and the beautiful fast new boat, will make her the boat to beat. 'Hollywood Boulevard' sits atop the Omega AYC championship table but she is just one point clear of Malaysia's Yo! skippered by Peter AHEARN and Hong Kong's 'Stella' skippered by Fred KINMONTH. The winner of the Singapore Straits Regatta for 2004 is likely to come from this batch of elite Asian sailing talent.
Said Ray Ordoveza before the racing had begun "it's great to be back here in Singapore for the Straits Regatta. We seem get great wind here and the racing is superb. Once again in the racing fleet we have the best there is in Asia. It's going to be tough but we think we can repeat 2003."
With clear blue skies and in winds speeds of a steady 15 knots the fleet gathered off Changi for the first race to Nongsa Point on the Indonesian Island of Batam. Conditions were superb and an air of anticipation hung over the fleet. At the start 'Clariden Karakoa' certainly got the best position and surged across ahead of 'Hollywood Boulevard' and 'Yo!' 'Hi Fidelity' was already chasing in fourth. After half an hour of sailing the fleet emerged into the Straits where the wind freshened to over 20 knots with the seas remaining flat. Perfect conditions.
And conditions that favoured 'Clariden Karakoa' such that the rest of the fleet struggled to maintain contact. Slowly she stretched her advantage and as it was now a straight race to the finish line, hope faded for the chasing pack. 'Clariden Karakoa' finished some seven minutes ahead of Hi Fidelity in second place with 'Hollywood Boulvard' two minutes further back. 'Stella' Minter Ellison ended in fourth and 'Yo!', after taking evasive action around a tanker, finished a disappointed fifth.
The fleet is out on the water again tomorrow (Thursday) for windward/leeward racing off Nongsa Point. And the racing takes a very different form with shorter races with many more tacks and gybes. 'Clariden Karakoa' certainly cannot rest on her laurels and all she can take for granted is that the rest of the fleet will be even more thirsty for victory.
The Singapore Straits Regatta is a prestigious event in its own right and it fits into the larger Omega Asian Yachting Circuit that groups together the premier sailing events in the region.
1) Raja Muda International Regatta, Malaysia (November 2003)
2) Phuket King's Cup, Thailand (December 2003)
3) Singapore Straits Regatta, Singapore (January 2004)
4) China Sea Race, Hong Kong to Philippines April 2004)
Through the season the yachts that compete in the elite Racing Division at each regatta earn points. The best three "final results" for a yacht from the four regattas count towards an end of season total; these totals produce the winner and a new Asian Champion is crowned.
The Singapore Straits Regatta (and all the events on the Omega AYC) is being filmed for international television and in all, the event will reach an audience of over 200 million households around the globe. The World will be watching as the 10th Singapore Straits Regatta sets sail from Changi Sailing Club.
The Omega Asian Yachting Circuit is sponsored by Omega Watches and Malaysia Airlines.
The Singapore Straits Regatta is sponsored by the Boat Asia, Panalpina, Indochine and Brewerkz and the Singapore Tourism Board