This article was written by Malay Mail sports editor Graig Nunis which was published on Wednesday.
MATCH RACING seldom makes the news — except when the Monsoon Cup comes around at the end of the year.
That’s why the Liga Layar Malaysia (LLM) is a welcome boost for the sport and sailors as it offers competitive match racing all year-round with races in five venues — Langkawi (February), Lumut (April), Pulau Indah (June and September), Putrajaya (August) and Port Dickson (October).
More races sharpen the sailors’ skills, give them some much needed publicity and a good return of investment to their sponsors in this extremely expensive sport. The sailors have responded with some good results.
Several of those who competed in the Asian Games were on the crew of the teams in the LLM – although Malaysia’s No. 1 match racer Jeremy Koo (Sime Darby Foundation-Koo Racing Team) narrowly failed to win a medal in that event. That aside, Jeremy, the only Malaysian to compete in the America’s Cup, has been the outstanding skipper in the LLM where he was pushed all the way by navy man Mohd Masyuri Rahmat, (RMNMRT/151OneSails Racing Team) in the race to be crowned champion.
Jeremy eventually won the title by five points after accumulating 46 points from the six legs. Masyuri, who beat Jeremy in Port Dickson — his first victory over the latter in a final — had 41 points and Nik Ashraf Qaedi Niz Azizan (KFC-MYA RT) finished third (36 points).
This year’s LLM offered a twist as instead of the winning teams being selected to compete in the Monsoon Cup, the season- ending race of the World Match Racing Tour, the organisers selected two mixed teams. The idea was to select the best sailors from each team to represent Malaysia.
Jeremy will skipper 1Malaysia Match Racing Team A and has three of his crew with him plus two from rival teams. However, it is strange Masyuri, the second best skipper in the LLM, was not one of the 12 selected. Three of his crew members, however, were chosen.
As anyone who has covered match racing can tell you, the skipper is the main man as he calls all the shots. That’s why, for example, Datuk Peter Gilmour is introduced as a four-time world champion. There is no mention of his team’s name.
So it is indeed strange Masyuri was found not worthy to be part of the 1Malaysia teams when third-placed Nik Ashraf Qaedi and Hazwan Hazim Dermawan, who finished eighth with five points, were chosen. Masyuri’s snub brings to mind the 1990 Oscar awards ceremony where Driving Miss Daisy’s Bruce Beresford was not among the nominees for Director of the Year.
It led to host Billy Crystal describing the movie which would eventually win Picture of the Year as “the movie that apparently directed itself.” Similarly, we can ask did RMNMRT/151OneSails Racing Team skipper itself? When contacted, Masyuri said he was extremely disappointed not to be given the opportunity to compete in the Monsoon Cup. He didn’t want to comment further. Nik Ashraf, who turns 25 on Friday and Hazwan, 27, are outstanding skippers, but were they better than Masyuri this season?
How did Hazwan, who won the Malaysian Malaysian Racing Circuit – the predecessor to LLM — in 2009 to compete in that year’s Monsoon Cup, earn his spot? What about the skippers who finished fourth to seventh? Why the need to have two skippers for Team B? Who will be given the nod to lead the team?
As it is, there is talk the sailors are not happy with the selection process and several of those selected may not report for a centralised training camp in Port Dickson starting on Friday. There will be two more training camps in Terengganu and Johor.
Also, why deprive the teams from competing under their sponsor’s name? How are the sailors going to convince future sponsors to come on board if they are not allowed to use their name in the biggest match racing event in the world?
Jeremy, who has emerged as the Malaysian champion for five straight years, has just secured funding from Sime Darby Foundation. If he and his three crew members were to compete under 1Malaysia Match Racing Team A, how will that benefit Sime Darby?
Why is it so important to use the 1Malaysia branding? Couldn’t the organisers come up with a less cliche name? If they really need to use the 1Malaysia brand, why not combine it with the team’s sponsors’ name such as a food and beverage brand/MYA 1Malaysia Racing Team? This way, the sailors get to please their sponsors and the organisers can please whoever they are aiming to please.
It’s enough to drive anyone nuts