Ray Roberts wins Royal Langkawi Regatta

Ray Roberts wins Royal Langkawi Regatta

Australian Ray Roberts (Quantum Racing) has won his fourth consecutive Royal Langkawi International Regatta in Malaysia overnight after a protracted battle with Jelik and Hi Fi, that resulted in the unusual situation of extra races being added to the schedule so the three could battle it to the end - even so, it still came down to the final race – and a bit of bad luck for Hi Fi.

The early morning overcast and hazy conditions looked a bit dismal but by start time a fresh north-easterly arrived as once again Bass Harbour came alive and turned it on for the final day of racing.

Conditions were a little bit too much for some of the inexperienced cruisers; their crews struggled with spinnakers and at times seemed to veer off out of control.

The five racing class yachts have been at it hammer and tong for 10 races over five days. Only seconds separated the first three places in many races and by the halfway point, three boats were tied for first place. So it all came down to the final two races today.

When Ray Roberts was asked at breakfast if it (the series) was in the bag, he quickly pointed out: "The fat lady has not sung yet," and went onto describe a few recent incidences where he has lost the race and series on the last day.

It's serious business for these top racers. Some of the crew of Hi Fi openly admitted that they were fighting it out for second place with Jelik. There was no shortage of adrenalin running amongst the crews who have become determined men with iron resolutions.

In race nine, with the boss back on the helm, Neil Pryde's Hi-Fi slammed home the advantage to take victory.

Peter Ahern's YO!2 has been plugging away all regatta. Apart from the Race 2 win, YO!2 is really not suited to the heavy going on the outside courses, but reveled in the Bass Harbour flatter water to score two second places on the final day.

YO!2 's results left overall leader, Roberts and his crew on Quantum Racing in third place and getting more worried by the minute.

A huge gust came through minutes before Race 10's start, which had the skippers going each and every way, but with only seconds left to start, the breeze returned back to normal.

At the same time, Roberts made his move to nail the line in front of his competitors. After the start line melee, Neil Pryde was first to the top mark, only for Hi Fi's keel to snag the anchor line and sail away with the buoy, leaving the way open for Quantum Racing to capitalise and go on to win the last race to wrap up the series; Roberts' fourth RLIR win in a row.

Two fourth places for Frank Pong's R/P 75 Jelik dropped them to third overall and left the way open for Hi Fi to jump back up into second overall.

Stuart Williamson's Beneteau 34.7 Skandia Endeavour of Whitby sailed well above its handicap to handsomely capture Williamson's fourth win and to nail the Premier Cruising series.

Anthony Hastings Beneteau 53 Baby Tonga 99 Degrees East has been on the comeback trail ever since withdrawing from Race 3 and 4. Hastings and crew found the mountain too hard to climb and had to settle for second overall.

By being On Course Side at the start, Niels Degenkolw saw the chances for his IOR 3/4 Ton Phoenix dwindle, but still managed to squeeze into third place and survive for third overall.

Vincent Chan's Mata Hari has been knocking on the door for a win, but despite scoring line honours on a few occasions, could not convert but, second place in the final race might make up for all the near misses.

Mike Van Zyl's 24ft Jandi, skippered by James Hardie, drove home their winning advantage by going out and celebrating with another win today. Second place for Jan Matthews' Sunsail 35 has her tied on points with Alan Rimington's 32ft Atlantis Star, but broken in Matthews' favour to regain her second overall.

In a surprise move, Singapore's SMU skippered by Zijie Lim, locked in two first places in the last two races to triumph overall in the Sportsboat class and wrap up the Platu 25 class as well.

Dropping down to sixth place on the final day was Gaetan Verhegee's Longtze 2 - Exocet after leading since Race 1. A second overall finish, and topping the table in the Longtze Class, may come as a consolation prize after a hard fought regatta.

Although slipping down the order over the last few days, the Royal Malaysian Navy's Navy 1, skippered by Mohd Masyuri Rahmat, held onto third overall, despite finishing fourth today. Second and third places respectively for Ben Callard's BBC and Razman Mat Ali's MYA/KFC helped keep the Longtze's at bay and elevate the Platu's to the top of the table.

In the Club Cruising Class, Keith Garry's 41ft BeauX Esprits sealed the deal by winning the last race and taking home the Commodore's Challenge Cup.

Second place for Christopher Kingsley-Smith's 41ft Amandla Star consolidated their second spot in the overall stakes.

A sixth place for Des Kearns/Jerry Boelens 46ft Bad Habits relegated them to third overall after being well up the leaderboard in the early stages. Third placed Henning Lenz (My Toy) and his crew ended the day with horns tooting, whistles blowing, siren wailing and cheers all round, which signified the end of racing and the spirit in which the regatta is sailed.

After a troublesome week for the Multihull class, Bill Webb's 41ft Out of the Bag showed her true colours and took out first place by five seconds from Tim Milner's 33ft Seekronghuk.

With seven wins to their credit, Bob Brindley's Whiteheavan's 11.8 Xcatriot has kept a clean sheet and despite easing up into third place today, which becomes their drop race, they have successfully completed a whitewash of the opposition.

Tim Milner's Seekronghuk finished second overall and Bill Webb's Out of the Bag a distant third overall.

Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship prize

As a tribute to the Founding Chairman and first Commodore of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, the late Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah, the inaugural 'Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship' award for the best team, both on the water and land during the 2009 Regatta, went to Henning Lenz and the crew of My Toy, who consequently were the last boat to finish on the last day of the regatta.

Henning once described My Toy as: "designed in the 50's and built in the 60's, mainly with fun and enjoyment in mind". As he and the crew tend to play the part to the fullest, we think the prize is very appropriate and could not go to a better bunch of larrikins.

Summary

At the final press conference, Ray Roberts summed up the proceedings by announcing that. "This year's regatta is possibly the best in Asia."

He went onto clarify that after 10 races in five days in tough conditions, several near collisions and extremely close racing, all crews' adrenalin was pumping and the excitement level was kept at an all time high.

This could not be achieved without the excellent race management team having the flexibility to accommodate most of the sailors' wishes. All this at a time when event sponsorship is at an all time low due to the global credit crunch.

It may be ironic that at past events, BMW wanted to lift the quality of racing class yachts and was disappointed with the lack of wind. This year, it was five quality racing class yachts and plenty of wind for everyone to enjoy.

Scaling down the social activities, which may have been a bit of an over-kill in the past, the 2009 Regatta will certainly go down in memory as one of the more enjoyable.

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