The Australian  Racing Pro has won the Penang International Regatta as well as the annual Marathon event in Penang, Malaysia, hosted by the Penang Swimming Club.


Penang Style photographed by Sean O´Brien.


“I’ve just arrived home from a long weekend event in Malaysia, the Penang International Regatta (PIR) hosted at the beautiful Penang Swimming Club; one of the premier sailing events in Malaysia.

I’m getting used to racing in Asia and really enjoying it. Right off the back of winning the Asian Windsurfing Championships in Singapore a few weeks back, then having a bunch of Singapore sailors come and race with us in Australia at the Downunder Pro, knowing the cool bunch of guys I’d be racing with again got me pumped to take the flight (plus a stopover in Singapore is ALWAYS fun!).

Arriving in Penang on the Wednesday, after a bit of sightseeing and checking out the local nightlife racing kicked off on the Friday with the PIR Marathon, an epic hour-long punishment sailing all up and down the bay in front of the club, if you can find the marks! With all the boat classes (optimists, 470’s, Lasers etc) starting at 1pm it wasn’t till 3pm when the 30 formula competitors could get a start away. The winds were around 8-10 knots and I took a flying port start to lead up the first windward… Somewhere around 1:10 hours later, I managed to cross the line in first, despite sailing about 10km the wrong way when I got lost in the mist out in front, with local legend Yeap Leong Soon (MAS-7) following hot on my heels the whole way in 2nd …


Sean O´Brien´s view on the event area.


Friday night, after dinner at some of the famous Malaysian hawker centres, we were treated to a mega tropical storm; pouring rain, trees knocked down over the roads, flash-floods… the works. Unfortunately for the next day, a storm like that in the late evening usually leads to no wind the next day, and we were stuck on the beach waiting all afternoon in the blistering heat with no races.


Sean O´Brien (AUS-120) on the race course at Penang (Pic: Caring Tay).


With Sunday the final day, we had to painstakingly wait all afternoon again to get a race away. Despite the other boat classes nailing 3-4 races each day, we were the last off the beach when finally a few dribbles of breeze came through in the late afternoon. Where the Swimming Club is located is slightly sheltered from the wind as you go out, so the FW fleet had to drift for 300m before we reached the wind line and made it to the start. We knocked off one race straight away in 6-10 knots with me again taking a port start (as did most of the fleet) and battling with my old sparring partner, Bo (Ruamsap Phanuthat) from Thailand. Bo is a ninja in these ultra-light winds and managed to beat me to the top mark both laps, picking the shifts a little better, before I pipped him on the line downwind to take the win. I raced Bo last time in 2005 at the warmup event for the Melbourne FW Worlds and managed to pip him in the last race to win, so it was good to have another battle with him and he definitely hasn’t lost any speed racing in Singapore, where he’s based these past few years.


Sean is very competitive, also in very light 6 - 10 knots (Pic: Caring Tay).


That was it for the wind, that ONE race; but it was a good one and there was so much fun stuff going on over the weekend in Penang it was easy to forget about the lack of racing. One more night out on the town on Penang Road and a really nice local dinner and it was back to the airport on Monday morning to fly home with a quick stopover in Singapore to see some friends.
So nice to do these events in Asia and there is starting to be a real formula movement there, which I’m definitely going to try and be part of as it’s much closer to home than Europe. The Penang International Regatta has been a stalwart event for a few years now and I recommend anyone who wants to explore this beautiful part of the world, check it out and travel to Malaysia´s westcoast!”


The eventhotel at Penang (Pic: Sean-OBrien).


Final Results (Top 7):

1. Sean O’Brien (AUS)
2. Ruamsap Phanuthat (THA)
3. Chris Newman (GBR)
4. Yeap Leong Soon (MAS)
5. Levi Cheang (MAS)
6. Harold Ma (SIN)
7. Lim Ching Sing (MAS)


Having fun at parties after racing (Pic: Sean O´Brien).


Malaysia is well known for its great cuisine (Pic: Sean O´Brien).


© Sean O´Brien 2012, 2012