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Singapore Straits Regatta: day one review

The crew from Blue Note repairing their head sail during racing on day two of the Singapore Straits Regatta 2014. (Credit contributed)

The crew from Blue Note repairing their head sail during racing on day two of the Singapore Straits Regatta 2014. (Credit contributed)

 

They came to race and that’s what they did. The 20th Singapore Straits Regatta started today at precisely 11am Batam, Indonesia time.

Less than Ideal Conditions

The 10 boats that took part in today’s race were met with sea c conditions that were, in the words of Waka Tere’s skipper Kurt Metzger, “extremely choppy.” Seas were confused and swells were at times close to two meters high. What made the swells nerve racking was their short frequency. They weren’t a gentle roll but came relentlessly, one after the other. Even the wind, pushed along by the seasonal Northeast Monsoon tipped to over 27 knots at one point. The race’s average wind speed was put at about 22-24 knots. While sailors loved the wind, the bumpy, confused sea made for some tough sailing.

At one point, during the first leg of the race, two of the bigger keelboat contenders suffered problems with their headsails and forced one of them to retire. Competitor Blue Note suffered from a ripped jib and while the crew made a valiant effort to repair it, she finally withdrew from the race.

Rekering Dream had problems with her forward sail but still managed to complete the first race using only her aft mainsail. It was a testament to seamanship how the crew managed to keep the vessel in the race. The crew’s efforts paid off and the boat came in first in the IRC B Class with a corrected time of 1:40:22.

Justina Sim and Andrew Fong on day two of the Singapore Straits Regatta 2014. (Credit contributed)

Justina Sim and Andrew Fong on day two of the Singapore Straits Regatta 2014. (Credit contributed)

Sheets to the Wind

While mechanical problems may have plagued a few of the entries, two other boats experienced high drama on the course. It was crewmember Andrew Fong aboard SMUmad who had the ultimate scare. This was his first regatta and while conditions were rough he still felt in control. It wasn’t until the boat did a jibe that Andrew found himself knocked overboard into the foaming water. Fong explained what happened, “We did a jibe the sheet hit me and the next thing I knew I was in the water. I managed to hang on to the sheet and my crewmembers pulled me in. Of his ordeal he recalled, “Every second out there was an experience.”

But Andrew Fong wasn’t the only young sailor to meet with mainsheet problems. Justina Sim aboard the Waka Tere also had another close call. “We were doing a jibe when the main sheet smacked me in the head,” she recalled. That whack on the head cost Justina a trip to the hospital and five stitches. She explained, “I didn’t know I was hurt. It was after that I saw all the blood that I knew something was wrong.” The impact was so hard, “that it even made my nose bleed.” Her only regret was that because she was injured she couldn’t help her teammates as they raced towards the finish. When asked if she’ll continue to sail, she beamed a big smile and said, “Yes, of course, I love sailing.”

Unsung Heroes

While sailing can be unpredictable for contestants it’s easy to forget about the other boats that help coordinate and assist with the regatta. They experience the same conditions as those taking part in the race. While rough seas were hammering the contestants of this year’s Singapore Straits Regatta, Lady O, the race committee vessel, stoically rode her anchor in the tough conditions to keep score and observe the race. It wasn’t until her captain, Steven Leong, went to put up the hook at the end of the day that things got a bit harrowing. “We went to pull anchor and noticed that the whole bow pulpit on our Grand Banks motor yacht was gone, torn off by the rough sea conditions and heavy swell.” Not being able to pull up the anchor safely, they let go and lost their hook and chain. Which just goes to show that regattas can be tough not only on participants but officials as well.

By Nicolette Goh


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