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17 January 2003, 03:23 pm
Premier Asian Regatta Kicks Off
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© Raffles Marina

Volvo Singapore Straits Regatta

After an excellent first days windward/leeward racing for all competitors on Wednesday, yesterday was time for the first passage race across the Singapore Straits to Nongsa Point Marina, and the Riau Yacht Club in Batam.
20 knots of monsoon north easterly and a strong spring tide meant a record fast ride for most people. Not everyone appreciated the strength of the ebb tide however and a number of yachts were running by the lee before they rounded Senang for the fetch up to the mark boat off Gusong and the leg across the separation zones of the Singapore Strait.

The two PY Class yachts elected to start with Racing Class B and I am happy to record my bias for the looks of Dondang Sayang who looked really fine as she powered down to the tern at Senang ahead of all but two Class B yachts.

From the point of view of Class B the big boats soon disappeared over the horizon but we understand that they had no difficulties at Buffalo Rock and that most of them went outside Batu Berhenti. Yo! enjoyed the breeze to take line honours with, provisionally, Karakoa tasking first place.

For the benefit of our visitors, Batu Berhenti means "halt rock" and one can readily imagine sail trading ships dropping anchor there to wait the change of the tide. Batus Berhenti can be found all around the Malay-speaking world.

A number of Class B yachts misjudged the tide at Buffalo Rock and had to gybe before they rounded however this year nobody tested the water depth too closely. The race was then a beat up to the gate beyond Berhenti with most yachts opting to avoid the chop by sailing inside the rocks, and a few, I will leave it to Gordon to reveal their names, changing their minds and losing.

Once through the gate it was a close fetch down the 80-degree rhumb line to the finish off Pulau Nongsa, and congratulations to the race officers for laying the finish line in the place stated in the instructions. If my memory serves correctly, in the past the finish has been only approximately 1 nautical mile north of the island.

We noted one or two difficulties with sails on the long, and for the smaller boats, bumpy fetch as and several crews sticking patches on sails in the marina so it seems that the fresh conditions took some toll on gear.

It is easy to relax after the finish, but that is not always wise, one blonde Australian flipped over the side during sail furling but managed to hang onto the guardrail. Perhaps she should have let go because she suffered a number of minor wounds and a lost sailing shoe. Talking of spring tides, Foxy Lady's crew report that their instruments saw 4.5 knots of favourable tide at the finish.

Today it is back round the cans and if, as we hope the fresh conditions continue we can expect some exciting racing.
Peter Dunlop
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