The Drive In Automotive
Mata Hari KLRegistry Wins RLIR18 By 1 Second!
They say that winning a title is hard but defending it is even harder. True statement indeed. This year, team Mata Hari KLRegistry defends her 4th IRC title at the 16th Royal Langkawi International Regatta which takes place from 8-13th January 2018. Her opponents have gotten bigger and much faster with numerous victories under their belts.
It didn’t help too that there was plenty of drama on board even before the race began. The wind angle sensor went offline and it took the crew an entire afternoon to rectify. After that we headed out for a short practice. Midway motoring the engine suddenly stalled. We soon discovered not only was the fuel lines clogged but the entire fuel tank was contaminated. Practice was cancelled as we hurried back to sort out the fuel issue. By evening the engine was operational again.
On race day, we prepared to head out but all the electronic instruments went dead and this time for good. No speed, wind angle, depth, nothing. Nothing much we can do now but to tie a piece of hemp line and to look at the telltale. It was pretty much back to basics sailing rest of the whole week. Bad timing for back to basics.
Out of the box, we lost in race 1 and race 2. The Japanese Team, Char Chan’s performance was text book perfect taking the first two bullets. We had to rethink our strategies or the rest of the week would have been lost for certain. So, it was back to the drawing board and numerous adjustments to the boat.
With much toiling and a new setup, we managed to claw back Race 2, 3 and 4, winning all three races. We were optimistic to continue our momentum and extend the lead in the penultimate round.
But by then Char Chan saw through our tactics and found a crack. They quickly retaliated and that scored them a win in Race 6. Distraught and now tied, Char Chan had 3 wins and we had 3 wins. With one race left, it was neck and neck.
The final race was held off shore. The big winds and choppy seas favored the opponents. But no time to think much. The starting grid was chock full of boats, each having their own scores to settle in the final round.
The staring horns wailed and we were off. In the bustling of the start we fell behind but so did Char Chan. The other competitors were pulling ahead but that did not matter, the race was just between us and Char Chan. If Char Chan finish far ahead of us, they would win the regatta and vice versa.
It certainly felt like the longest race of the week (if not our lives) and it was nail bitingly close. At every cross tack, our boats were only separated by a few meters. On TCF (time correction factor) Char Chan only gave us about 26 seconds and that was about 2-3 boat lengths. Certainly, no room for comfort especially when we are the ones chasing.
Compare the size!
Rounding the last mark, we held on to them. With the finishing line about a mile ahead, we were head to tail with Char Chan. It was total silence on both vessels. They were trimming to pull away from us and we trimming to hold on. Even a whisper on their boat was audible to us. All of a sudden, the Regatta became real quiet and possibly all eyes were on the both of us.
With a quarter distance remaining, Char Chan began to pull away. Powerless to achieve any more speed we maintained our own course to the finish. Char Chan became the second boat to cross the line behind Meraki and we came in third.
It was too close to call and nobody could guess the winner. Then the race committee radioed in the results. After applying TCF, we were registered as 2nd and ahead of Char Chan. What a relief! After a week of battle exchanges, the overall victor was decided on the last straight, of the last race, on the last day of the regatta. If that was not close enough, back on land we looked at the timing sheets and realized we were only ahead by 1 mere second. Too close!
The 2018 Royal Langkawi International Regatta was truly an exciting and memorable one. The IRC1 title can stay with Malaysia for another year. This time we also took home the Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship Award, an award whom the winner is selected by nominations and votes from all participating teams. It was totally unexpected. After a week of focusing on the competition and we are overjoyed to have received it.
We would like to thank the organizing committee, race officials, our sponsor KLRegistry.com, the participants and everyone else who made this event truly one of the best in the region. It will get much harder to defend our “1 Second” in 2019, but we will try our best again. Malaysia Boleh!
Picture Credits: RLIR2018, NST, AsianYachting, Marty Rijkuris, TV3