Category Archives: Sailing

The innocent can never last

We are volunteers

10 days in Langkawi as a volunteer for the SEA Games. The experience was mostly good, I was doing the same things I did for the Monsoon Cup, just in a different capacity. I wrote daily reports but instead of having them as press releases, it got posted onto the official website’s news section.

My team was very small, just four of us. The manager is a big outdoor enthusiast, the other two are young students. We worked well together, and I am grateful to have these ladies for support. We could laugh off almost everything, while enduring the administrative chaos throughout our time there.

I learned more new things about how a regatta is held and had a refresher on things I have forgotten. Like how the race officials are the most hardworking lot apart from the athletes. I don’t think Cik Burn spent more than an hour on land everyday as he had to oversee not one, but four race courses while the PRO even had time to do a ‘wind dance’.

As media volunteers, we assist in ensuring coverage goes smoothly for the press people. Daily routine included boat availability check, updates on results and for me, making sure that they actually know what was going on out on the water. And I file stories with the hope that people would want to read up more about the sport.

I would love to see sailing being in the mainstream, for sailors like Fauzi, Wanie, Latif and Lin to have the same opportunities as athletes in football and hockey for funding and sponsorship. I also want them to have the chance to make use of their talent to move upwards, turn professional. Like Ben Ainslie or Peter Burling. I don’t think my stories would get them there, but some attention to them is better than nothing at all. These kids do not have a trust fund to finance their careers or have a wealthy backer to set them up with a team. At least not yet.

Nothing left to break

My second Royal Langkawi International Regatta, this time as a Blue Angel in IRC2. Only four boats in the group, and I felt like we might not have a chance at line honours. However, with the lowest handicap and some decent finishes, we came in second overall. Phoenix, the winning boat, was just too fast for us. Even with an OCS where she had to do a penalty on the start line, she managed to win EVERY. RACE. Simply awesome.

Blue Angel - cruiser yang berangan nak jadi racer

Blue Angel – cruiser yang berangan nak jadi racer

It felt good to be up on stage again, after our Raja Muda adventures last November. Too bad for the Navy/MAF team, URANUS was no competition to the TP52’s, and having a makeshift crew didn’t help things. Stiff competition in the Sports Boat category too, but they managed to sneak in as runner up after Tom & Co. improved their standings in the final few races.

On the social side of the event, I guess I did pretty well, considering how I stuck to my own lot in 2015. This time there was a surprise connection with my JB friends and Eddy made sure we did a few rounds of mingling. Some really old photos resurfaced and there were plenty of stories exchanged over drinks, nasi with gulai and loud music.

Sunset at Bass Harbour

Sunset at Bass Harbour

There were some glorious sunsets too, at the marina and one while visiting Labarque. Patrick opted out from volunteering at the regatta, so he kept Tigger the cat company on the boat while Elizabeth was on the water at Mark A with Che Ajis and Tengku Deen, along with Tom the retired US Navy diver.  Managed to go on board for a short visit and spent a couple of hours with the Labarque people before I headed to the airport on Sunday.

– – –

I left my heart in Langkawi during my first RLIR. I think I got it back. Not entirely healed, but quite at peace with the universe.

Coming through in waves

I never thought of sailing for leisure, it has always been about racing.

Eddy said that yesterday and it occurred to me that I feel the same way. Even the few times I joined the pakciks to bring FORTISSIMO X out, all of us treated it as training, to try out a new equipment or simply to reconnect with the boat and make sure she is race worthy.

The one time I joined a couple of friends on a boat delivery job, it did feel like an assignment, with some elements of adventure and drama attached to it.

However, it would be nice to have a boat to just set out for a few hours to just enjoy the moment. Just like Jamie Cullum‘s song.


Ever since Eddy got back from Cape Town, she and I have been getting regular sailing time with a boat – the Blue Angel. The owner and his wife are lovely people with really interesting back stories.

Apart from that, we managed to get a short refresher course in PD with another cool couple and I really feel lucky to meet all these people who took the time to teach as well as giving us the opportunity to race on a regular basis. To-date, we have raced five times on board Blue Angel and I think we have a good chance of crewing for her in the Raja Muda.

A few days ago, someone asked what my dream was and I said to sail around the world. The latest Clipper Race had just ended and the VOR will start again next year.

Crowdfund my way to the Clipper Race? I don’t know. There is no harm in trying but I feel that using people’s money for my own pursuit of adventure is very wrong. Unless I am getting paid to write or do stuff for it, like my old column in 2010.

Doing an RTW is something I don’t mind repeating. Maybe not so much of getting lost anymore, you would not want to get lost in the Southern Ocean, no. I don’t know if I’d be able to do even a leg of the Clipper anytime soon but I think maybe rounding the Malaysian peninsula is a more doable venture.

The world of me and you

The horizon was streaked with shades of orange and grey. It was wet on deck, the third day of racing, and we should approach Penang in a couple of hours. The rain had stopped and wind was light, but the waves were fairly high still, making us give up on trying to cook and broke out the dry rations for dinner.

“Are you trying to stare that biscuit to death?” He came to sit next to me near the cockpit where a few others were also taking a short break.

“I was looking at the water, silly,” I replied. Actually, I was thinking of another sailing trip with him some ten months earlier. A week of pure happiness it was for me.

“Do you remember that time I fell on the boat during that final match race?” Of course I did. I was on the media boat when he texted me about it.

“I was really worried you’d cracked a rib or something. And your voice took a long time to recover.” It was seven months ago and I have not forgotten the feeling.

“I was worried too. And it made me realise how painful it was for you when you had the accident in January.” I fell on the boat we had sailed together and the pain near my right ribs took a couple of months to fully disappear.

“I was glad that you were okay, although I do miss that sexy voice you had sometimes,” I said. He laughed at that.

I didn’t mention it before we went on board, but I knew that this would be our last race together. Our situation has not changed and I doubt that it will, despite his new assignment. He took my hand and held it in his while I kept my eyes closed listening to the waves.

“Break is over, comms officer.” He stood and went back to the charts down below. I saw the skipper looking at me and went to him. He’s been a great source of knowledge as usual, and I wanted to hear more about the race he had entered last summer from California to Hawaii. It was partly to distract myself from thinking too much and partly to learn more from the skipper’s 40-odd years of experience.

– – –

From Penang, we moved on to Langkawi. It would be my third visit to the island this year, I haven’t even gone back to the kampung that often. We managed to get onto the podium for the passage race to Penang and were hoping for a repeat performance for the next leg. The navigator’s excited, even when I reminded him we’re in the cruising class, not the IRC 1.

“What happened to fun sailing and enjoying the moment?”

“I can’t help myself, it felt great to win the other day,” he said. Competitive as always.

– – –

I made coffee and went up on deck. It was almost dawn and most of the crew who opted to stay on the boat for the last time were still asleep. He was at the bow pulpit, his sleeping bag wrapped around him. I handed a cup to him and sat down. He wrapped me in as well, warm and safe. I kept quiet, sipping my drink while looking out. After a while, I put my cup down and held him close.

“Thank you for being here,” was all I said. I felt him nod and pulled me closer.

“I think you need a shower.” Romantic, aren’t we?

If you want, read this first.
And this last.