WITH barely a week to go for the Monsoon Cup, preparations are in full swing for the event to be held in Pulau Duyong off Kuala Terengganu.
The Monsoon Cup is one of the nine stages of the Swedish Match Tour - the second most famous sailing race in the world after theAmerica’s Cup.
The Terengganu government is leaving no stones unturned to ensure the event from Nov 29 to Dec 4 is a grand success. It will put the east coast state on the global map.
This has become more imperative as none other than Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi mooted the idea for the state to host the international event.
The Prime Minister’s aim is to break the psychological barrier that all things come to a standstill in Terengganu with the onslaught of rain and gutsy winds during the monsoon season.
After much brainstorming, the state decided to host the Swedish Match Tour because of the global exposure it will provide.
The Swedish Match Tour programmes and highlights reach nearly 500 million households in 190 countries around the world.
The St Moritz Match Race (Switzerland), the Monsoon Cup (Malaysia) and the Brazil Match Cup (Brazil) are three new events in the professional match-racing tour on the 2005-2006 schedule.
For the Monsoon Cup, 12 teams will compete during six gruelling days for prize moneyof RM400,000.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who is overall in charge, has been galvanizing government departments to complete infrastructure facilities on time.
He issued a reminder to department heads that there should not be any weaknesses that could mar the event.
The state roped in two-time Swedish Match Tour champion Peter Gilmour as race director to provide the organisational expertise.
Equine Capital Bhd executive chairman Datuk Patrick Lim is giving a helping hand by tapping the resources of his company. He is using his contacts to draw world famous celebrities to the event.
Among those who have confirmed attendance are former James Bond girl Datuk Michelle Yeoh and actor Jackie Chan.
Ferrari racing team boss Jean Todt will also be in town with his test drivers and technicians.
The participation of Sultan of Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin in the race has also generated interest among many.
Sultan Mizan, an avid equestrian endurance rider, has agreed to be a guest crew member on board the Pizza-La sailing team headed by Gilmour.
A check showed that workers were rushing to complete infrastructure facilities such as roads, drains and giant hospitality tents at the Terengganu Heritage Bay Club in Pulau Duyong.
It has been estimated that 500 workers were at the site to complete, among others, 60 double-storey chalets, which will house race participants and VIP guests.
Another 60 chalets will be ready next year. The air-conditioned tents will serve as meeting points for racers to have meals and relax during breaks in the event.
A marina with 36 berths has been completed. The target is to complete 180 berths next year.
State executive councillor Wan Hisham Wan Salleh, chairman of T-Best Events Sdn Bhd, the Monsoon Cup organiser, said:
“Unprecedented development has been taking place in Pulau Duyong over the past four months.
“We built a 1.5km road along a river within three weeks. It provides direct access to the club from the junction near Sultan MahmudBridge.”
Monsoon Cup festivity is visible all over Kuala Terengganu as banners, posters and signboards have been erected all over thetown.
According to Gilmour, the race would take another three years before it goes “fullpower”.
“It is the introductory chapter of a novelwhich is going to be a blockbuster.
“If we don’t start this year, it will takeanother 12 months for us to put Terengganuon the world map,” he said.
The organisers are hoping that more than 30,000 people will watch the event live. Ten side events are also being organised, including an exotic car exhibition tagged asprobably the first of its kind in Asia.
Cars, which have been never seen on Malaysian roads, will be showcased includingthe Ferrari Enzo and the Pagani Zonda.
There will also be a coconut-plucking demonstration in Pulau Duyong from Nov 29to Dec 4.
Other attractions are go-kart and mini bicycle demonstrations, X-games championship, arts and heritage festival, TV3's Monsoon Extravaganza, and street basketball and futsal competitions.