Thursday, 11 July 2013

Borneo Race and 347 miles later

Phew, what a fortnight. Over the last two weeks we have sailed 347 miles in straight lines, I'm sure in real life it was a fair bit longer. First south from Brunei to Miri, then north to KK via Labuan, then back south to Brunei. We have done two long 'ocean' races and 2 1/2 harbour races and met a bunch of cruisers. Basically a whole heap of fun. And we did well in the race also, 2nd overall in cruising division A. All to Phil's credit of course, yes, I'm the very proud girl friend, not afraid to brag :-)
Our routes south, north, then south again. Red arrows reflect the first leg from Brunei to Miri although missing our overnight stops, green is the racing (plus harbour races), and yellow is back to Brunei!
To start from the beginning we first has a leisure three-days sail down to Miri (Malaysia) from Brunei. Norwegian Flow and Hero also went, so we got to hang out a bit more with them, which was really nice. We also started meeting the other race participants. The night before the race we had the first of in total three local dinner buffets, all part of the free race! It's the 10th year that the race is on, the earlier years the participants even got paid to do it, but now it's 'just' free. And it includes goodies like free marina in Miri and KK, the three dinners and a few other things. It's all a bit cooperation between the two states Sarawak and Sabah (the two Malay states on Borneo) and Labuan Corporation (the tax free island, part of Malaysia) mainly to boost tourist, but I'm sure there are lots more agendas.

The first leg was from Miri to Labuan, 90 miles, 10am start, 26 hour time limit, you'd think enough, but this is Asia, so light winds prevail. We did have a bit of every kinds of winds, from becalmed to 20 knots on the nose, keeping us on our toes. Ok, make that Phil's toes. From the late afternoon through to the early morning we were actually beating Bewitched (the winner of cruising division), which made Phil extra keen to tweak maximum speed out of Sophia. That meant I'm not good enough to be in charge to let him sleep, so I got lots of lovely sleep that night! We got close to Labuan mid morning, but then the wind just totally died and in order to make the 12pm deadline, we had to motor the last hour or so, and we came in just few minutes behind Bewithced, no bad at all. Motoring is allowed, but it comes with penalties.

Needless to say, we slept well that night. The next day was harbour races. Luckily Keith from Voahangy (the NZ ex-paua fisherman we met in KK) was keen to crew with us for the harbour races, which made things a lot easier. It's quite tricky with the spinnaker (no sock) with only two people. It was a nice day with OK breezes and we came third, then second in two races, which unfortunately favoured gennakers, not spinnakers, which both our closes competitors sported, and yes, there is a type of sail we don't have on Sophia!

The second and final long leg was from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu (KK), about 70 miles, 3pm start, 20 hour time limit. Bewitched just took off and we couldn't catch them. This leg was more influenced by several squalls, none bringing more then 20 knots of wind, but with lots of rain and lightening, including some phenomenally huge bangs. We crossed the finish line at 2am (average of 6.4 knots of speed), and got some well deserved sleep. The next day we were lucky to get a spot in the marina, the immensely luxurious Sutera Harbour. We were mostly busy being social though and didn't get much pool time. The KK harbour races unfortunately didn't have much wind, so we only did 2/3 of one race, then they cancelled it. A real shame, because we were finally beating Bewitched :-) All those trailer sailor lake regattas Phil has done in NZ in lights winds makes him real good at still moving along in next to no wind.
Bewitched with half a gennaker, but look how much bigger she is, and we had to beat her on handicap!
A cool little series of us overtaking a competitor, Full Flight I think. Thanks so much to Behan on Totem for taking these pics of Sophia
Keith from Voahangy joined us for the harbour races. This is before a race, hence the relaxed pose...
Overall we really enjoyed the regatta. And even more considering it was all free. In NZ there certainly aren't big buffet dinners for all participants in regattas, and in Thailand where Phil has done a couple, it's just as plush (or even more), but there are entry fees. If we were to complain, it would be of the organisation of the regatta. The morning before the race at the registration, they still didn't have start numbers for us, nor t-shirts, or knew which boats were in which classes (cruising div A and B), that wasn't sorted until late in the day or the next morning. We also weren't very impressed with the handicapper. It seemed quite random how boats were handicapped, and despite Sophia being the second smallest boat entered (and the smallest actually racing) we had one of the toughest handicaps, we actually had to beat Bewithced, a Catalina 42 on the line. The handicapper simply guessed how much all the cruising boats had motored from Labuan to KK, and the guesses were totally off, so of course the results were wrong, instead of waiting until all yachts had submitted motoring times. Somehow the wrong result was used in the price giving and not the corrected one, although that was just more fun than anything else! We did also laugh in Miri when one of the (many) speeches mentioned that race had won an award for being the best organised event in Sarawak.

Most of the participants were from Australia and New Zealand. We were the youngest crew by miles, at least if you don't count in some of the boats with kids on them :-) One of the kids' boats was Totem from US (Washington), whose very popular blog I actually read back in NZ before we were leaving! They have been cruising for five years, including a two year stop-over in Australia to fill up the cruising kitty again. Jaime is also a sail maker, so he and Phil had a lot to talk about. They have three kids onboard, from age 9 to 14, great and well-spoken kids, boat life is good for them too, I think. We also met several other boats, all lovely people, but one fun thing was that the mono-hulls were mostly hanging out together and the multi-hulls were together with themselves, but with some overlaps. Multi-hulls were also all slow, we were beating them all by miles.

1 comment:

  1. WHAT?! I have a popular blog? Oh man. I need to start proofreading more. --thanks Astrid. Glad you liked the photos and thanks so much for the ones you took... the one of the girls in particular just slays me, I love it! Safe travels on your way to Denmark, we'll see you down the line...