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Sailing Champions

Congratulations to team Mata-Hari for successfully defending their 2016 title as the Royal Langkawi International Regatta IRC2 Champions. Thanks to the team’s invitation, we had our first taste of international yacht racing and what an experience it was.

In motor racing you would associate the word “race” to blood, sweat, metal, rubber, octane and the lot. We know that. In yacht racing it’s a bit different. There is the “race” and “speed” per se, but in our opinion it’s more like playing chess while riding a horse in the desert.

There are no star drivers or star cars in sailing. Everyone and every component on the boat is equal and important. Imagine a dozen crew playing chess while riding horses in the desert. Each of them must win in order for the team to succeed and everyone is to blame for a loss.

That’s a tall order, especially when you have to work in sync with total strangers you met just hours before. Different opinions, abilities and characters operating in a 400sqft office. If this were parliament, shoes would be flying. Rich or poor, young or old, you learn to work together, live together, communicate and accommodate.

Fitness is important too. The constant bombardment of waves makes rushing through tangled ropes, steel winches, slippery surfaces, precarious ledges, water bottles and other humans pretty dangerous. If the heat didn’t fatigue you enough, you could also hit your head on the boom and fall into the water. If the boat has to turn back to get you (that's if you stay conscious and afloat), the team would lose precious time.

Then there are the other competitors. Hardened seaworthy peeps are aiming for the same trophy. Running a handicap system means you don’t necessarily win even if you cross the finish line first. It’s how far you cross the finish line ahead of the others. So for the whole duration of the race, you need to produce qualifying lap times, every lap.

Against all odds, team Mata Hari got their act together and pulled through for a second consecutive title. Hard fought it was though. Till the very last race, no clear winner was certain and everyone had equal opportunity to clinch the title. Well worth the bumps and “Bruce-s” endured.

Aside from winning though, satisfaction mainly comes from being a part of the Regatta. It’s a close-knit community. There are plenty of legendary stories, experiences, music, drinks and food going around. Everyone knows everyone. The sport is still fun and people can laugh off their losses. The parties are as hard as the sailing too!

It’s like the golden era of Formula 1- Aryton Senna, Niki Lauda; before it became today’s cold and calculated play. There is passion, fun and people enjoyed themselves.

Till the next challenge awaits, now behind the keyboard, it’s back to work!

Moments:

The welcome party

Postmortem

The dawn

Met up with Porsche Club Malaysia

The presidential suite

Secret training in between races

Spyder in town

Mi casa es su casa

Offshore

Looking for wind

Every day, set in the beautiful island of Langkawi

Picture credits: Royal Langkawi International Regatta

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