Amid pomp and fanfare, good cheer and high spirits, the BMW Royal Langkawi International Regatta was officially opened on Tuesday night at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club by State Exco Datuk Osman Mat Aji.
He read a speech of welcome from the Chief Minister of Kedah, Y.A.B Dato' Sewri Syed Razak, who was unable to attend because of the upcoming elections. Welcome speeches were also delivered by the Chairman and Commodore of the Club, Y.A.M. Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman and the Managing Director of BMW Malaysia, Wolfgang SCHLIMME. Each speaker talked warmly of the event and of a bright future for Langkawi. Racing began in earnest this morning in lighter than hoped-for breezes. Happily, the forecast for the next few days is for increasingly heavier winds.
On The Water - Day One
Before the start of racing on Wednesday, the winds were predicted to be light, with land and sea breezes only. The wind turned out to be VERY light, dying away to absolutely nothing later in the afternoon, leaving many of the racers miles from their finishes. Once again courses were shortened, and the second race for Class 1 and 3 was cancelled by mutual agreement between the participants and the Racing Committee. Many the racers withdrew from the races early, however, due to the shortened courses, there were still some finishers. Despite the lack of wind, there were still some amazing feats as we watched several yachts literally INCHING their way round the mark.
They had to hone their skills with tacking as well as sail changing, trying to pass through gates and round marks with no wind. Several times we watched yachts carried past the gate, trying to come back with no wind and against the current. And woe to the yachts which were trying to pass on the wrong side of the Mark 2 gate, as they had to lose what little wind and momentum they had to correct their course. We will hold our weatherman to the prediction of strengthening NE winds for Thursday.
Over the course of the Regatta we shall be bringing you background on some of the officials and volunteers who make the Regatta work. Today it's the turn of the Pro's: Principle Race Officer (PRO) Mark PRYKE and Race Officer Howard ELLIOTT
Mark PRYKE (AUS)
Mark has been racing for 35-38 years - yachts and boats of all designs, including skiffs, one design yachts and catamarans. He has raced in nine world championship races as the skipper and a competitor, as well as competing in numerous international events. He is not only an ISAF Judge (IJ), but an ISAF Umpire (IU), ISAF Race Officer (IRO), Vice-Chairman of the ISAF Multihull Committee and member of the ISAF Race Management Sub-Committee as well. He is one busy dude, as he ran the offshore racing for the Sydney Olympics, has helped the Greeks during 2002 -03, and participated in the major regattas in most of the Asian countries as either a judge, race officer, or a competitor. Behind the accreditations, Mark has a good sense of humour, and is extraordinarily adaptable to the situation. I found him multi-tasking today on the starter boat - and I've been told that is something only females can do. He also pays great attention to detail, which all the racers will appreciate, as it makes the Regatta well and correctly run. He apparently likes to run the Langkawi Regatta, as he is returning from last year, although he states this is one of the more difficult regattas to run from several standpoints. It is the largest Regatta in Malaysia, and it follows a "social event" theme, meaning more cruisers and multi-hulls. This also means more skippers unaccustomed to racing rules. The racing courses are also designed to give the racers and cruisers what they want, making the course more difficult to run, by having multiple courses, and gates, out on the water at the same time. It is also run primarily by volunteers. For example, the Race Management Committee has only two professionals, and all others are volunteers. When I asked Mark what he thought about our Regatta, he went on to say - the scenery is spectacular, the water is flat, and warm, and although the wind is sometimes a little light, it is never too strong.
Howard apparently didn't have time to marry, as he has been racing and sailing for 35 years. He has been associated with Mark for fifteen years, and has been in Racing Management for over ten years. He is an ISAF Judge, and when he is in Sydney, he runs a consulting business. He states he has run a couple of hundred races and has been in both the Olympics and World Championships. He is also here with the Royal Langkawi International Regatta, and has provided the programming which will be recording and scoring the races.