If you didn’t already know, this year’s Singapore Straits Regatta saw the greatest number of SMU Sailors gather, with 4 SMU sailing teams, an Alumni team and a striking number of SMU Sailors scattered across the big boats. An eventful regatta spread over 4 days with 2 nights spent at Nongsa Point in Batam, everyone had a whale of a time, blessed with good gusty winds of up to 18 knots and some adrenaline-inducing competition.
The first day of racing itself kicked off with a bang, with Shengli, helmed by beaching veteran Calvin, approximately 5 minutes late for the first race due to her flighty and chronically ill engine. Towing Shengli to the start line was SMUve, helmed by Camelia, but who had to prioritize the race and cut the deadweight loose after it was apparent that both boats were not going to make it to the start line on time with only 1 working engine. Nevertheless, it was a good call as Shengli admirably caught up with the rest of the boats and finished in the middle of the fleet at the end of the 2.5 – 3 hour long passage race en route to Nongsa. It was also a good day for SMUmad and Jangan Main Main (JMM), helmed by Samantha and freshman Collin Lim respectively, coming in first and second in their respective one design class. As the first day was graced with only 1 passage race followed by motoring to the Nongsa Point Marina directly, plans to visit the mall and a team dinner were in line.
On the bus to our destination that evening, the eager freshies in charge of our R&R, Judith and Randy, briefed us gleefully that they arranged for a zhi char restaurant nearer than the one we went to last year, to save us time for grocery shopping. As things turned out… it was still the same restaurant, not that we were really complaining. A good effort made, nonetheless. With a few of us ordering the dishes, it came as no surprise that we overestimated everyone’s appetite, forcing everyone to eat more than they usually do in a hopeless attempt not to waste food. It was also a tradition then to remind everyone not to flip the fish (one of the dishes served), something the team has upheld from year to year. As always, with sailors, dinner is never unaccompanied with enough beer to go around, resulting in the meal ending off on a high note!
What also made this year’s SSR different from the previous years was the Angel-Mortal game that was played amongst freshies, seniors, and alumni alike. Introduced with the purpose of bonding as a club, the game created a good deal of mystique, anticipation and fun. Besides producing some very witty poems and gifts like bananas, naughty G and even a sunflower, some angels were even making last minute purchases for their mortals during the grocery shopping at Tesco after dinner. The night ended with everyone weary from the little excursion and craving for a good rest to brace themselves for racing the next day.
As luck might have it, the second day of racing was as action-packed as the first, if not more, for some boats. The day saw a record number of man-overboard drills on SMUmad, with mains-trimmer Judith falling prey to Poseidon twice, and the the club’s president Terena Lam unexpectedly falling in as well during the last upwind leg. Watch the race highlights here to catch Judith in the water.
Meanwhile, SMUve swiftly recovered from her 3rd on the first day to achieve bullets for both races on the second day. Competition for the one design J24 class was significantly more pronounced, with the 2 SMU teams JMM and Shengli up against tough competition from Angel and RSYC Dua, helmed by the experienced Jovena from NTU. Due to the gusty wind conditions, Shengli even broached while rounding the upwind mark causing freshman Darice to fall in. What’s worth noting about this is that Leonard continued to hoist with little care for his mast who was in the water hanging on for dear life. At the end of the day, competition for the J24s was so tight that the boats finished within seconds of each other, indicating a job well done for everyone and to Shengli who came in 2nd for both races.
As that night was our last night in Nongsa, the SSR committee had a buffet dinner in store for us, together with free flow beer and a very exciting boat building competition. With Alexi and Winfrid as our talented engineers, the boat they constructed out of newspaper, straws, styrofoam and scotch-tape emerged the winner in a fleet race across the swimming pool, aided by Leona Lewis on its front. The night proceeded on in high spirits, and for some, a little too much beer.
Besides a windward/leeward race, the third day of racing consisted yet another passage race back to Singapore. Proceeding on a reach most of the way, the SMU boats did remarkably well. The main highlight of the day was probably the epic broach experienced by SMUve right at the finishing line, with Camelia falling in only to be saved by Alexi’s swift response. If only that was all, the subsequent attempt to bring the spin back into control unfortunately caused the pole to swing back into Alexi’s front tooth, causing half his teeth to chip off. This created the perfect setting for the romantic moment that immediately followed, with Alexi asking Gwen endearingly: “will you still love me?” As his puppy eyes were rewarded with an affirmative answer, the rest of the crew sighed at the scene that seemed to transpire from a movie. As quickly as it happened, however, everyone snapped out of their reverie to absorb the reality of the broach, scrambling to their respective positions to do a penalty for hitting the mark, albeit with some leftover warmth & fuzziness.
The fourth and last day of racing was eventful for the boats all around. The J24s saw Shengli and JMM working together to take down RSYC Dua, with JMM coming in 2nd for both races. As for the platus, the visionary helm of SMUMad, Samantha, saw the inside of the protest room for the first time as she protested Arjuna, an Indonesian navy competitor, for not going through the gate as required for one of the races. All became well again when the protest was won and SMUMad secured its podium placing.
This regatta, fittingly described as a regatta of many firsts by Melissa Goh in our January Newsletter, was one filled with many unforgettable and memorable moments. Congratulations to SMUve and SMUMad who came in 1st and 2nd respectively in the one design platu class, as well as Shengli who came in 2nd overall in the J24 class. To JMM who lost out on a podium placing by a very narrow margin, being tied in points with RSYC Dua, let’s not be disheartened as it was a good fight and there will be many more regattas to come.
Thank you OSL, SSU, and everyone else who made regatta such a success!