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17 January 2002, 02:41 pm
Race One
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Singapore Straits Regatta

In the weeks leading up to the event, Singapore experienced the full strength of the North East Monsoon and the biggest storm for 25 years.

Gale force winds ripped across the garden state levelling a great number of manicured trees and leaving much debate about whether the breeze would hold.

The 8th Singapore Straits Regatta was officially opened by His Excellency Mr. Tony Siddique Commodore of the Riau Yacht Club, at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club on Tuesday evening.

But as with any regatta, the day before and the day after the event, go on record as being the windiest ever.

SembCorp Gas / Seimens Race
Republic of Singapore Yacht Club - Raffles Marina

The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club is tucked away on Singapore's south west coast. The starting area for race 1 lay just north of Raffles Light on the perimeter of Singapore's southern port limits. Competitors are required to find their way through the maze of commercial craft that ply the Singapore Straits.

Just finding the way to the starting area can be quite a daunting task as the rate of land reclamation around Singapore is astonishing. Current charts are a must, for once where there was water are now vast tracts of land!

Thirty boats in three classes Racing A, B and a Performance Handicap Class were to face the starters gun. A running start from the racing area saw all yachts clear the line at 5 minute intervals with the faster craft of Racing A getting underway first.

A light breeze pushed the fleet south towards Raffles Light. An early tactical split by some of the fleet drew mixed results. Neil Pryde of Hong Kong established an early lead from the line as last years winner Stella nipped inshore looking for a more favourable route to the turning mark of Raffles Light - a decision that would prove to be costly.

A result of Singapore's ever changing topography is a number of shallow spots many of which may not appear on even the most recent charts. Half an hour into the race and Stella had found such a spot. Due diligence and effort eventually cleared the yacht from the shallows but not before the race leaders had already completed most of the course. Meanwhile Jenny III of Singapore had her own list of problems commencing with charting yet another shallow spot, dragging a large clump of sea weed from the shallows around most of the course then, clearing the foils only to have the steering cables break and complete the course with an emergency tiller in place!

Racing B Class had another set of problems. The north east monsoon which had looked so promising in the morning, faded just as the class leader was about to round Raffles Lighthouse. A non-existent wind and a flowing tide held the fleet at bay until a very uncharacteristic southerly breeze filled in to carry the fleet to the gate and the eventual finish.

But perhaps some of those in the performance handicap class had it toughest as far as conditions went and the plushest as far as drinks and condiments go. Sailing a shorter course than the other classes only 3 out of 6 entries actually finished.

Results Day 1

Racing A

1 Hi Fidelity, Neil Pryde HK
2 Karakoa, Ray Ordoveza, PHI
3 Pla Loma, Keith Moore, MAS

Racing B

1 Against All Odds, Howard Witt, SIN
2 Jangan Main Main, Lee Sea Yean, SIN
3 Next Page, Steve Walker SIN

Performance Handicap

1 Dondang Sayang, Udo Beyer, SIN
2 Joan Marie, Graham Lind, SIN
3 Cassandra, Chris Schuler, SIN

On day 2 the fleet start from Raffles Marina and head for the Indonesian tropical splendour of Pulau Batam, home of Nongsa Point Marina and fledgling - Riau Yacht Club.

As in yachting senses, it's still a long way to go but with some of the stalwarts already giving themselves their 'discard' race the regatta could return some surprises in the coming days.
Asian Yachting Press/News Editor
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