The 10 to 15 knot North Easterly breeze that has presently set in is expected to provide the racing classes at the inaugural RLIR with close racing and compliment the gala festivities that are taking shape this week at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club.
Peter Ahern's YO! having won the Kings Cup and Asean Regatta late last year could be considered the hot favourite and has amongst the crew Aussie Olympian Jamie Wilmot and Noel Drennan who crewed onboard Illbruck the Volvo Ocean Race winner and was helmsman on Shockwave the winner of the 2002 Sydney to Hobart Race. No doubt, close on his heels will be Neil Pryde's Hi-Fidelity, Ray Roberts Luna Nuova and the 2 Farr 40's Pasaya from Thailand and Hannes Waimer's Jativa.
Although the focus may be on the racing class all eyes will be on the Sports Class which sees 3 all ladies teams competing against the Royal Malaysian Navy and Kedah Sailing Association crews on Platu 25's with some of the new Phuket 8's yet to materialise.
Cruising Class A includes Dato Dr Mokhzani's Gotcha Lagi! which has won every regatta in the Asian region at least once competing against 10 formidable opponents which include David Lindahl's La Samudra, Jeremy Camps Cabaret 5 and Reinhard Haiber's Pytheas Aura which have taken home their relevant club trophies over the last few years.
Nine multihulls have entered which sees Claes Nilsson's Papillion 2 coming out of retirement and No Fixed Address with the new owner Brent McInnes taking on Mark Horwood's Cererus and Frank Cusack's Chakra who won the Rebak Champagne Run (See summary below).
The biggest class by far is the Cruising B Classes with over 25 entries which include the Live Aboard and Long Keel boats. Several Malaysian Youth Teams have been formed that will be representing the Kedah Sailing Association and the combined Royal Selangor Yacht Club and Royal Port Dickson Yacht Club teams. Jim Ellis's Remington is expected to put in a good showing and Trevor Matthews on Simba are still celebrating their King's Cup 02 victory.
During tonight's gala Opening Ceremony the Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will officially open the new marina extensions to get the regatta underway and welcome all the International participants to Malaysia. Racing starts tomorrow with the Sheraton Perdana races for all classes and if the conditions are similar to today's practise race the spectators can expect to see some very close racing with the picturesque Island setting in the background.
Rebak Champagne Run
The very first Rebak Champagne Run took place as a curtain raiser to the RLIR over the 8 & 9 March. The 12 participating sailing boats left the Ao Chalong Yacht Club in Phuket for the 120nm sprint to Rebak Marina in Langkawi. Bonny on the catamaran Chakra who won 1st prize said "We sailed the first 80 miles in 10 hours but then in the middle of the night... the wind died".
Seven boats came through to the finishing line having used the engine at times. 1 retired. 4 of them, Klondike, Emerald Blue, Chakra and Ceberus, strategically used the light winds coming from all directions as the lightning struck around them during the night and were the only ones to sail through the finishing line.
The Rebak Champagne Run ended up nicely with a bottle of champagne put on each table where the crews enjoyed one of the best dinner parties and social events of the year hosted by the Rebak Marina Resort. The evening started with the opening speeches and the prizes were given by Puan Noraihan Mohd Shariff from DRB-Hicom. The winners received a Langkawi crystal trophy and all the participating boats received a certificate.
The traditional cultural performances were also one of the highlights of the evening.
The Rebak Champagne Run - Race Results
1. Klondike skippered by D Radcliffe First and fastest in the cruising class
2. Emerald Blue, First in the racing class. Skipper: Nick Band.
3. Chakra, first in the multihull class. Skipper: Frank Cusack.
4. Ceberus, second in the multihull class.