Jelik win Race Six to close gap with Oi!

Teams from different countries compete in Race Six of the 12th Royal Langkawi International Regatta (RLIR) on Jan 16, 2014. — GLENN GUAN / The star

LANGKAWI: The chase to land the Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy at the 12th Royal Langkawi International Regatta (RLIR) is heating up as Jelik scored another victory in Race Six to move up to second place, behind leaders Oi!.

It was another day of perfect conditions and Jelik of Hong Kong, the biggest boat on the regatta measuring 77ft, took advantage of the long race course around the island to capture Race Six in 3’24:53 with Australia’s Oi! (3’26:40) and Katsu (3’41:40) finishing second and third respectively on Thursday.

Malaysian Armed Forces’ duo Uranus (3’43:55) and Utarid (3’44:31) managed fourth and fifth place respectively with Russia’s Lero 3 (3’44:42) in sixth.

“We had wind all the way through, even down at the bottom. It was 20-21 knots highest, the slowest was eight to nine knots. It was a great day for racing ... the sun was shining, sea was flying and everyone had a good time,” said Jelik skipper Frank Pong.

He was delighted to learn that his team had won the race and was catching up with current leaders Oi!.

The two wins from Race Five and Six have pushed the Hong Kong team to second spot on the standings with a score of 13, six behind Oi! who made a clean sweep on day one, winning the first three races and going on to record three second-place finishes in Race Four, Five and Six.

“Oh, we are second now!,” said a clearly delighted Pong who is in the hunt to land his first Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy at the RLIR.

“We’re climbing up slowly ... great. And we have four (races) to go (until Saturday). The wind is going to build up. The wind forecast is in the high teens for Friday and Saturday. So it’s looking very good. I think we’ve had the best conditions this year,” he added.

Oi! skipper Peter Ahern is no stranger to RLIR, having won three titles in a row from 2003-2005 and the 57-year-old wasn’t too worried with the string of second-place finishes.

“It was pretty full-on conditions and the boats were powered up so that was good. The course was very much a follow-the-leader type of course and we did pretty well. It was pretty close with Frank on Jelik today and he got us by a minute or so. But he sailed well and those long races are very suited to his boat so we expected him to do very well today,” said Ahern.

“We enjoyed ourselves and managed to sort of get around the course nicely, so we’re happy with that. I’d think we’d be pretty happy sailing the shorter courses in the harbour (which better suits Oi!) but we’ve just got to keep sailing well to make sure we stay in front,” he added.

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