Malaysian Match Racing Circuit gets stamp of approval

Jeremy Koo, winner of the Malaysian Match Racing Championship 2011
The Malaysian Match Racing Championship (MMRC) held at the Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort and Spa in Pulau Duyong, Kuala Terengganu concluded with a victory for Jeremy Koo who will go on to compete in the Monsoon Cup at the same venue from 22nd to 27th November.

But all was not lost for the rest of the competitors, as they will have something new to look forward to next year. During a welcome dinner held on the first day of the MMRC, Dato’ Wan Hisham Wan Salleh, Vice President of the Malaysian Yachting Association (MYA), announced the successful endorsement by the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) Development Council for a Malaysian Match Racing Circuit.

The circuit will be incorporated within the already successful KFC Regatta in Langkawi, Kedah; Lumut, Perak; and Selangor, culminating in the Malaysian Match Racing Championship, the national qualifiers for the Monsoon Cup at Pulau Duyong, Kuala Terengganu. There are plans to introduce a keelboat class circuit, which will provide local sailors with more opportunities to continuously train and compete professionally in the match racing discipline, harnessing their full potential and preparing them for international events. In the future, Dato’ Wan Hisham hopes that other states will be inspired to invest in their own keelboats so that they too can host a leg of the circuit. MYA will work together with T-Best Events, the organisers behind the highly successful Monsoon Cup, to educate and train sailors, and manage and co-ordinate the Malaysian Match Racing Circuit.

The announcement received the full support of the sailors who were grateful to MYA and T-Best Events for creating a sailing fraternity and taking the sport to new heights to transform sailing into an industry as envisaged by the Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. Mohd Romzi Muhamad (UPM Sailing Team) who secured a fourth placing despite competing for the first time said, 'The idea of a Malaysian Match Racing Circuit is very good for the development of sailing, and match racing in particular in the country. It will increase the competitiveness of the sport as well as our rankings. A circuit will give us an early start on preparations for the Monsoon Cup. We can develop our skills and experience, work on communication and co-ordination and develop a strong team. Having a regular team will be an added advantage as this will improve our teamwork.'

Nurul Ain Md. Isa (Ri-Yaz Heritage Sailing Team) commented that previously, the participating teams for the Monsoon Cup were usually selected on an ad-hoc basis. And being the MMRC champion didn’t earn the kind of respect that other regattas commanded as winning could sometimes depend on luck, or having the money or sponsorship to enter the race. With the introduction of the circuit, a more 'serious' team could be set up. 'Also, at least we’ll have a target to follow like other regattas where you start off with SUKMA, followed by Sea Games and the Olympics,' said the sailing coach for Majlis Sukan Negeri Terengganu.

Mohd Masyuri (MAF2) and Hazwan Hazim (Permai Hotel Match Racing Team) - Malaysian Match Racing Championship 2011

Navy technician, Masyuri Rahmat (MAF2) who came in third said, 'A circuit needs to be introduced in order to improve the standing of Malaysian sailors, especially those interested in pursuing a career in sailing. Sailors start training at the age of six but once they are done with dinghy sailing at the age of 16, they have nowhere to go. With an allowance of only RM500, how are they going to survive, let alone start a family? To improve the local sailing scene, we need more regattas. This way the sailors have a reason to compete because they can earn a ranking and make a career out of sailing, as is the case of our neighbouring countries, Australia and New Zealand.'

Koo (Abdullah Chan/KRT) felt the circuit was a good idea but that it should have been implemented much earlier. 'It’s good for developing keelboat racing and increasing the level of match racing. There is a lot of potential in Malaysia that is proven by the sailors competing in the MMRC and a circuit will definitely help to improve their performance through practice and experience. The circuit will also allow for a fairer way of deciding the best team that represents Malaysia at the Monsoon Cup because one race alone cannot determine the level of a sailor’s competence.'

'Langkawi is a good place to include in the circuit. Lumut too, but it needs to be moved to the open seas as the current location is too near the naval base. I think it would also be good to consider adding Sabah and Johor in the circuit as these two places can be quite a challenge to sail. I would also like to recommend that the organisers grant wild cards for two categories – teenagers and ladies – so that there will be a continuous stream of talent as the young sailors replace the older ones,' said Hazwan Hashim (Permai Hotel Match Racing Team) who lost to Koo in the MMRC finals.

The inaugural launch of the Malaysian Match Racing Circuit is expected to take place in February 2012. Meanwhile the Asian Match Racing Championship continues tomorrow, from 12th to 15th October 2011.

Monsoon Cup website