Joint RSYC/PSC Long Distance Race, 24/9/2016, for the PSC Challenge Trophy – Written by Jeremy Camps.
Start: 11:42, 6 boats entered, 5 boats started.
5 boats came to the starting line, just south of Beacon 25, West Port, equidistant between the 2 participating club houses. This was to be the last in the RSYC Offshore Series, which features races to Angsa Bank and Port Dickson, and which Arne Hayn (DeLite) was currently leading. This was also to be the first of, hopefully, more joint RSYC/PSC challenge races. There would have been 6 boats but for John Rajoo (Mahalaksimi – Ross 780) became caught by the adverse tide on their way from Pulau Indah and could not make the start line before the 30 minute cut off limit.
Pride of the fleet was undoubtedly John Kara/Tricia Especerman’s new Beneteau 46 ‘Insanity’ fresh from Langkawi. Other participants were RSYC Commodore Jeff Harris’ J92s ‘Nijinsky’, along with PSC Vice Commodore Jeremy Camps’ Impala OOD 28 ‘The Blue Angel’, Arne Hayn’s Dehler 34 ‘DeLite’ and Fabian Fernandez’s Eygthene 24 ‘Freedom’.
Race Officer Malcolm Elliott had spent many hours preparing an interesting 20+ mile course which avoided the shipping lanes and giving a good mix of wind conditions. For once the Wind Gods cooperated and the fleet enjoyed good winds of around 10+ knots for the bulk of the course, although the initial and final stages were more fickle, with many flat spots to catch out the unwary, particularly on the broad / shy reach on the way out of Westport.
First over the starting line, set by Mun from RSYC, was Freedom who darted inside Blue Angel close to the committee boat. Insanity, Nijinsy and Delite hoisted gennikers for the reach out with Blue Angel and Freedom under spinnakers to display a kaleidoscope of colour. Insanity and Nijinsky pulled away once they got the breeze further out, with Blue Angel leading division 2. Blue Angel’s spinnaker was up and down as the wind direction varied, whilst Freedom sailed on serenely, regardless, with spinnaker flying right until turn to the west.
After passing through a gate upon leaving Westport channel, the fleet had to fetch a mark just on the edge of their upwind limits, so those who concentrated and were not adversely affected by the medium size chop that had been built up by the morning’s nor-westerly wind, managed to fetch the mark in one go and gain advantage on the downwind leg to Fairway buoy. Others had to endure a couple of short tacks before rounding the mark, which was PSC Commodore Amir’s ‘Offshore’ with Malcolm on board. The pre-planned location proved to be right in the path of an incoming dredging barge heading to Pulau Indah but they, very obligingly, changed course slightly to the south prior to the competitors’ arrival at the mark boat, so all was ‘well in the swell’.
The next downwind leg became a long run with the smaller boats facing a rather unpleasant chop before finding the mysterious South Fairway buoy, which has different positions shown on different charts, a Race Officers nightmare! An hour had been spent earlier in the day with the Race Officer hunting down the offending buoy and confirming its position to be, fortunately, as marked on the Notice of Race. (For future reference the Garmin chart is the most accurate). This leg favoured those with spinnakers, whilst others were forced to gybe their way down to the next mark, and provided a colourful sight visible from the shore at Buas Buas.
Fortunately there was little shipping entering or leaving Port Klang at that time, so the fleet did not have to play ‘dodgems’ with shipping whilst rounding Fairway and heading back landward on a close reach to search for a small, but accurately placed, green danbuoy, placed there to protect the fleet from using the tempting, but very shallow, short cut into the river mouth.
From there it was a broad reach up the river, as the wind remained from the north west, unlike the forecast which had put it backing to westerly by mid afternoon. The Race Officer cunningly (so he says!) had timed the race so that lead boats arriving early would need to contend with a 1+ knot adverse ebb tide coming out of the river, whilst the trailing division would find slack water, and those way behind would benefit from the tide flooding around 5pm. However, most boats arrived before low tide and the wind stayed northerly until well into the evening.
The leader, Insanity, tactically stayed well to the north side of the river to avoid the bulk of the ebb tide and cruised effortlessly past the final red danbuoy mark at 5 knots before entering the final leg, where winds had dropped to just 5 to 7 knots, before sliding across the Marina finish line at 14:50:10 to gain line honours.
The finish line was a cleverly placed transit line of piles viewable, as was the whole of the final leg, from the roof of the PSC clubhouse, thus allowing the finish line officials to sit with a cooling drink whilst the fleet slide past at regular 10 to 20 minute intervals. As predicted the lessening ebb tide saw the trailing boats make up lost time, with the last boat crossing at just 1 hour after the first.
In true bulldog style Nijinsky, who had earlier warned of their predicament of having a rope wrapped around their prop and were thus engineless, provided further entertainment to the assembled crowd by demonstrating how to sail up to a pontoon and moor under sail. Excellent seamanship, but, as their own crew pointed out, getting one of their own ropes around the prop in the first place was not!
The crews were greeted by PSC Commodore, Amir, at the PSC clubhouse where Ruth Grimley dispensed ice cold beer. A buffet had been laid on featuring Amir’s special sate, along with chicken wings and chips, the fryer being specially bought for the occasion, but which will now be available after future PSC racing. PSC are justifiably proud of their Corinthian spirit with members organising everything.
Much thanks for the organisation must go to PSC member John Rajoo who organised the cooking, drink supplies , extra tables etc., stepping in for PSC Rear Commodore Rama Menon, who was, unfortunately for us, called away on business to Spain. However it really was a team effort with others such as Martin Grimley and Rose amongst a number who helped ensure everyone was well fed and watered.
The results were awaited with great anticipation as Malcolm had told us it was very close and indeed it was… After some 3½ hours racing the fleet arrival variation of 1 hour was reduced by handicaps to 21 minutes with the first 3 boats within 34 seconds on corrected times. Insanity was placed first by 15 seconds, leading Nijinsky, who was just 19 seconds ahead of Blue Angel. Only 7 minutes behind was Freedom, who managed to beat Delite on handicaps. Had the race been just a few minutes longer then the results would have been completely different. The results also meant that, although Freedom gained 1 point to close the gap on DeLite’s lead in the RSYC Offshore series, Arne Hayn takes the Series Trophy by 13 points to Fabian’s 14.
The Challenge Trophy results can be seen at http://www.peninsularsailingclub.com/2/index.php/results , with the RSYC series results to be found at http://rsyc.com.my/sailing_results/2016Offshore.htm
PSC Commodore Amir presented Insanity’s skipper, John Kara, and his crew with a small but beautiful Royal Selangor bowl as a trophy, given by the three PSC flag officers, remarking that it was intended to be a Challenge Trophy, completed for annually between RSYC and PSC boats. Following a few remarks by Vice Commodore and sailing secretary of PSC Jeremy Camps, particularly thanking Race Officer Malcolm Elliott, RSYC Commodore Jeff Harris expressed his appreciation to PSC for their part in organising the event and presented a bottle of whisky, which was willingly and rapidly acquired by the PSC Commodore.
It had been a great day for the sailing community to which we all belong; good racing , good socialising, with many smiles, none greater than Insanity’s joint owner Tricia Especerman, when she arrived later, fortunately with some champagne to celebrate Insanity’s first major win.
Once again our thanks to all who made the day special particularly all those who help behind the scenes, laying and collecting marks, setting up and preparing food and drinks, and of course the competitors. Lastly a special mention to our absent friend Rama whose perseverance, generosity and enthusiasm have so much helped in starting our sailing club.