New Zealand’s Sababa were forced to retire from Race Five of the Royal Langkawi International Regatta's Club Class competition after getting stuck on the shallow coral near the Pulau Selang area and suffering a broken backstay. – GLENN GUAN / The Star
LANGKAWI: Australia’s Oi! look poised to land the Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy in the 12th Royal Langkawi International Regatta (RLIR) after another day of consistent sailing.
Oi! ended day four of the regatta with another two second-placed finishes in Race Seven (1’34:11) and Race Eight (2’59:52), which were enough to see them stay at the top of the Racing Class standings with a score of 11.
“It wasn’t the greatest day of sailing for our team but we’re still in pretty good shape. Jelik (of Hong Kong) had two first (place finishes) and we were a bit unlucky not to win the first race. We were over the starting line and were called back. But we didn’t hear, so we came back very late and that cost us the first race,” said Oi! skipper Peter Ahern, already a three-time winner of the Challenge trophy.
Jelik, who bagged another double victory by taking Race Seven (1’33:13) and Race Eight (2’56:05), are second in the standings with a score of 15.
Jelik skipper Frank Pong rued their disastrous first day, when they finished third in Race One, fourth in Race Two and a “drop race” (did not take part) in Race Three. A fourth placing in Race Four on day two meant they were always playing catch up with Oi!
“It’s unfortunate. We had a terrible first day and incurred such a big deficit. Peter’s Oi! has been sailing so well and so consistently this week. Consistency deserves victory ... so, hopefully, we can clinch a comfortable second,” said Pong.
In the Club Class event, New Zealand’s Sababa, skippered by Grant Wichman, were forced to retire from competition in Race Five after getting stuck on the shallow coral near the Pulau Selang area and suffering a broken backstay.
Two of Sababa’s crew members – national sailors Umi Norwahidah Sallahuddin, a silver medallist at the recent SEA Games in the International 420 girls’ event, and Khairun Hanna Mohd Afendy suffered minor injuries to the leg and head respectively.
“It happened halfway through the race ... the skipper did not notice the shallow coral rocks nearby and the boat’s keel got stuck. Then the backstay broke and we also had a problem with the spinnaker,” said SEA Games gold medallist Mohd Faisal Nurizan, who was also part of Sababa’s crew.
The broken backstay effectively rules Sababa out of the competition.
Sababa’s rivals, Russia’s Elena also suffered a broken boom but were able to finish second in the race.
There was also a mishap in the Sportsboats Class when Malaysian Armed Forces 1 also suffered a broken rudder during Race Seven, forcing them to pull out of Race Eight.