LANGKAWI: Four friends on water scooters have set off on a 2,409km journey which will take them across the South China Sea from here to Kota Kinabalu over 17 days.
Alex Chai, Simon Low, both 35, and Rosli Bagat and Nazar Omar, both 38, – were flagged off at 9.45am yesterday from Awana Porto Malai here by the resort’s general manager Shamsul Kamar Ahmad.
They hope to raise RM1mil for nine disabled children centres through their record-breaking attempt, which is billed as the Malaysia X 2003 challenge.
The four covered the first of their 12-leg journey, from Pulau Langkawi to Penang over 105km, in two hours and 50 minutes yesterday.
“Thank God, we did not encounter any technical problem, but we have to put up with rough sea condition for nearly an hour, stretching a distance of 30km to 40km,” said team leader Chai.
He said the choppy sea conditions forced them to slow down their pace and they were able to gradually increase speed from 40kph to between 55kph and 60kph when the sea condition improved.
Nazar, a sales manager from Kuala Lumpur, said en route they saw hundreds of dolphins swimming after they left the Awana Porto Malai jetty terminal in Langkawi at 10am.
“We missed capturing the beautiful sight on our portable video cameras as we had just started our journey,” he said on arrival at the beachfront of Lone Pine Hotel in Penang yesterday.
The four will spend two nights at Lone Pine, which has partly sponsored their stay, before leaving for the second leg of their journey from Penang to Lumut, which is about 160km away, tomorrow.
They will ride between three hours and eight hours daily including five rest days during the entire journey.
Nazar said he and Rosli, a water scooter mechanic, would be able to carry out repairs for minor breakdowns at sea if necessary.
The four riders will also carry individual GPS devices, cameras, emergency beacons, two-way maritime radios, radar reflectors, mobile phones, flares and a satellite phone.
The shortest stretch of their journey covers 104.4km from here to Penang while the longest is that of the 292.3km route from Johor Baru to Pulau Acastar in Indonesia.
After braving the busy Straits of Malacca to Johor Baru, the riders will face the testing winds and waves of the South China Sea.
Team manager Bruce Chai and two crew members will travel by land along the route to provide ground support.
Bruce said the public could monitor the progress of the team on the website www.malaysiax2003.com which will have daily updates.