The monsoon that threatened the Singapore Straits Regatta held off and allowed the first race to take place yesterday

Prior to the Singapore Straits Regatta, Singapore experienced the full strength of the North East Monsoon and the biggest storm for 25 years. Gale force winds ripped across the garden state levelling manicured trees and leaving much debate about whether the breeze would hold.

However, the 8th Singapore Straits Regatta was officially opened by His Excellency Tony Siddique Commodore of the Riau Yacht Club, at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club on Tuesday evening and the first race got underway on Wednesday in light airs.

The first race – SembCorp Gas / Seimens Race – was hosted by the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club at Raffles Marina and was sailed just north of Raffles Light on the perimeter of Singapore’s southern port limits.

Thirty boats in three classes Racing A, B and a Performance Handicap Class lined up for the running start at 5 minute intervals. A light breeze pushed the fleet south towards Raffles Light. An early tactical split by some of the fleet drew mixed results. Neil Pryde of Hong Kong established an early lead from the line as last year’s winner Stella nipped inshore looking for a more favourable route to the turning mark of Raffles Light – a decision that would prove to be costly.

A result of Singapore’s ever changing topography is a number of shallow spots many of which may not appear on even the most recent charts. Half an hour into the race and Stella had found such a spot. Due diligence and effort eventually cleared the yacht from the shallows but not before the race leaders had already completed most of the course. Meanwhile, Jenny III of Singapore had her own list of problems commencing with charting yet another shallow spot, dragging a large clump of sea weed from the shallows around most of the course then, clearing the foils only to have the steering cables break and complete the course with an emergency tiller in place!

Racing B Class had another set of problems. The north-east monsoon which had looked so promising in the morning, faded just as the class leader was about to round Raffles Lighthouse. A non-existent wind and a flowing tide held the fleet at bay until a uncharacteristic southerly breeze filled in to carry the fleet to the gate and the eventual finish.

But perhaps some of those in the performance handicap class had it toughest as far as conditions went and the plushest as far as drinks and condiments go. Sailing a shorter course than the other classes only three out of six entries actually finished.

Results Day 1

Racing A

1st Hi Fidelity, Neil Pryde HK

2nd Karakoa, Ray Ordoveza, PHI

3rd Pla Loma, Keith Moore, MAS

Racing B

1st Against All Odds, Howard Witt, SIN

2nd Jangan Main Main, Lee Sea Yean, SIN

3rd Next Page, Steve Walker SIN

Performance Handicap

1st Dondang Sayang, Udo Beyer, SIN

2nd Joan Marie, Graham Lind, SIN

3rd Cassandra, Chris Schuler, SIN