Oi! skipper Peter Ahern holds the Prime Minister's Challenge trophy aloft after he and his crew sailed to overall victory by finishing second in Race Nine of the Royal Langkawi International Regatta on Saturday. - GLENN GUAN/ The Star
LANGKAWI: A second-placed finish in the penultimate Race Nine was enough to see Australia’s Oi! lift the Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy in the Racing Class category at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta on Saturday.
Jelik, with 2009 ISAF Match Racing champion Adam Minoprio on board, were on fire once again winning both Race Nine (1’29:28) and Race Ten (57:49) on the final and toughest day of the regatta as winds reached speeds of 24 to 25 knots.
It was Jelik’s sixth straight victory since Race Five but the late surge just was not enough to overhaul Oi! who could even afford to skip Race Ten after they broke a batten and tore the top of the main sail at the end of Race Nine.
Oi! who won three times (Races One, Two and Three) and finished second five times (Races Three to Nine) garnered 15 points to win by two points from Hong Kong’s Jelik. Malaysia Armed Forces’ Uranus were third with 25.
“Very happy with the result. It was very windy today. So it was good just to get around the course and complete the first race (Race Nine) in a reasonable position. Then after we tore the mainsail, we had a look at trying to fix it but after having chalked up enough points to win we decided to give the last race a miss,” said Oi! skipper Peter Ahern.
Jelik’s skipper Frank Pong, though understandably disappointed not to have nicked the title, was gracious in defeat and praised his crew including Malaysian sailing siblings Jeremy and Tiffany Khoo, for a great run.
“We raced very well today. But our poor start on the first day hurt our chances. It was great to have Adam on board with us this time. We’ve learnt so much from him with the precision aspect. It’s been wonderful,” said Pong.
Ahern is now second behind six-time winner Ray Roberts (2006-2011) with four Prime Minster’s Challenge Trophy wins (2003-2005 and 2014). So will he be back next year to defend his title?
“Absolutely. We have a lot of fun sailing here. We love competing in this Regatta, very easy and great conditions for sailing. So we’ll definitely be back,”said Ahern, who also had his 16-year-old daughter Chaya on board sailing in her first Langkawi Regatta.
There was also some cheer for Malaysia as MYA (Malaysian Yachting Association) skippered by Olympian Khairul Nizam Mohd Afendy clinched the Langkawi Sports Trophy (Sportsboat Class).
MYA scored 16 points from nine races while Malaysia Armed Forces (ATM) 1, skippered by Mohd Masyuri A Rahmat and RYC (Setia West), skippered by Kevin Yong tied for second.
In the other categories, Singapore’s Foxy Lady VI, skippered by Bill Bremner, clinched the Lada-IRC Challenge Trophy (IRC 1 Class), Thailand’s After Burner, skippered by Daniel Renno, took home the Malaysian Multihull Challenge Cup (Multihull Racing class) while the RLYC Commodore’s Challenge Cup (Club Cruising Class) went to Elena of Russia skippered by Vaycheslav Somov.