The Malaysian registered 51-foot racing yacht led from start to finish to win in a depleted field last year. YO!'s Australian owner-skipper Peter AHERN said: 'It is definitely not going to be a walk in the park like in 2004.' Ahern believes his team will be able to retain the Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy in the BMW Royal Langkawi International Regatta.
'It is a stronger competition and there are two other Malaysian boats here, Ulumulu and SonnenKoenig, which are capable of giving us a run for our money. We are the favourites. We have a good chance of winning and I am confident we will retain the Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy.'
The presence of Ulumulu, the 46-foot racing yacht from Miri Marina in Sarawak and owned by Troy YAW, is expected to raise the stakes in the premier racing competition together with Royal Selangor Yacht Club's SonnenKoenig.
Although the YO! crew members have only worked together aboard the yacht for a short period of time, Ahern is not too worried as they are experienced hands.
'We may lack time together on board but most of these guys with me are seasoned sailors, who are in the middle of the sailing season in Australia,' he said. 'Our combined experience coupled with the strong showing put in the practice runs in the last few days here has heightened my hopes on winning for a third straight year.'
Besides the race for the Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy, there are three other categories of competitions in the regatta.
The smaller sports class boats will vie for the Langkawi Sports Class Trophy; the multi-hulls will compete for the Malaysia Multi-hull Challenge Cup; and the club boats for the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club Commodore's Cup.
Besides the main trophies, daily prizes will also be awarded for the best performers of the day.