Despite Ray Roberts' prediction, Hollywood Boulevard took line honours and the IRC Racing Class 1 victory in the first race of the Raja Muda International Regatta.
Sailing the 90 nautical miles from Port Klang to Pangkor in the Straits of Malacca, Hollywood finished early this morning with an un-official elapsed time of 10hrs 38minutes ahead of Peter Ahearn's Yo!, who finished second across the line and second in IRC 1 with an elapsed time of 11hrs 43minutes. Neil Pryde's Hi Fidelity came home third in both line honours, just 8 minutes behind Yo! and third in IRC 1. Pryde's recently rebuilt Welbourne 46 sailed very fast despite the question mark looming over her pre-regatta performance.
Roberts had commented to the Asian Edition before the race start that if the Australians won their World Cup match against New Zealand they wouldn't get too much sailing done and would most likely finish last. This prediction was largely due to the big screen TV installed below decks before the race for the specific purpose of watching the Rugby World Cup event. According to the Hollywood Boulevard owner-skipper two of their crew list, world class New Zealand match racers Andrew Walker and Stuart Broom, seemed to go a little quite about half way through the match and became more than a little sheepish after the final siren had sounded as the rest of the crew celebrated the Aussies' triumph.
Peter Ahern, skipper of Yo! and his crew, who are also mostly Australian, were equally delighted with the World Cup win. With the final results in hand the Yo! team decided to tack and cross Hi Fidelity's bow informing the NZ contingent amongst Pryde's crew of the final score. According to Ahearn there was not one bleet heard from them as the Yo! team sailed by with the good news however they do plan to catch up with them in the baaa tonight and get the full story.
Ray went on to comment, 'At the start of race one the breeze was at 310 true, blowing 8 knots with a NW current of 1 knot. We played the shoreline for the first 6 hours with the current dropping a little inshore to about 0.7 of a knot. The breeze ended up at around 10 to 12 knots from 340 true and we realised that the typical thunder storms we could see building with the tell tale lightning display were not moving in from the Sumatran coast to the NW and were hanging back off the Malaysian coast to the NE'.
This left the fleet in perfect sailing conditions, picking lanes of pressure and playing them off against the slightly stronger current just offshore. With about 45 nautical miles to Pangkor, Roberts went hard inshore to benefit from the 0.4 knot current and unusual pressure. Then, with about 25 nautical miles to go to the finish the Hollywood team realised that they had sailed inside a sand bar and were completely confused by some extremely bright lights that seemed to be a fishing boat. After a quick decision to reach away and a bit of good luck the Farr 52 slipped by an un-charted research centre sitting above the water on stilts about 1 nautical mile off the Malaysian coast. Perhaps this would also explain why the unusual un-charted sand bar did not show up on the big screen TV.
Finally Ray commented to the Asian Edition, 'Overall it was a very good race being one of the most comfortable and pleasant offshore races I have completed in Asia. With a consistent breeze and no major shifts or holes it was tactically rewarding. We could balance wind and current by looking for pockets of pressure in the slower current inshore whilst playing off little gains of 100 meters against the slightly stronger breeze and current offshore'.