Lying near the Pacific Ocean, Malaysia sees its share of monsoons, vast tropical storms that whip the seas and land with torrential rains and powerful winds. In an act that makes lemonades out of lemons, the Malaysian government launched the Monsoon Cup, a sailing event that pits the will of man versus the awesome forces of nature.
Photo courtesy of Foto Ilustrativa.
The Monsoon Cup started with a fishing trip taken by Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Terrenganu. Seeing that local fishermen don’t venture out during monsoon season due to stormy seas, he reasoned that the monsoon should work for the nation instead of against it. A short time later, the idea was presented to the government and a state-owned company organized the first race in 2005. The Monsoon Cup currently represents the last leg of the World Match Racing Tour, a nine-part event held in nine countries all over the globe as sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Match Racing is a form of sailing where two identical racing yachts try to outpace each other in a predetermined course, with only the skills and experience of the crew determining the outcome of the contest.
Photo courtesy of Ummu Shefa.
Known as the â€œFormula One of Sailingâ€, the Cup has since transformed the once sleepy fishing town of Pulau Duyong into a world-class resort destination. Visitors both from the nation and all over the world come together to watch as twelve racing teams vie for the RM one million prize for first place, one of the highest in the world. Many of the crews are world champions and Olympic athletes themselves, who soon participate in the highly anticipated Americaâ€™s Cup. The Terrenganu Heritage Bay Club sprang up at the same time as the first Monsoon Cup to establish the area as a premiere yachting destination, soon followed by a marina and a resort. The monsoon season itself has become a draw to adventurous yachtsmen, with the challenge of navigating through rough waves and terrible winds an ultimate test to their raw courage and sailing skills. Spectators benefit greatly from the action which takes place a mere fifteen meters from the shoreline.
During the race days, attendees can visit the rest of Terrenganu, an idyllic place filled with beautiful white beaches, pristine islands and rainforests, clear blue waters, rural villages and traditional culture. One such destination is Pulau Duyong itself at the mouth of the River Terrenganu. Several hamlets reside on the island, where the practice of traditional boat construction is still upheld by the locals. Sailing schools are also present in the marina, where enthusiasts can try their hand at racing yachts. Thrill-seekers will also find the monsoon season a boon to white-water activities, as rivers and streams become swollen with bubbling, fast-rushing water created from the voluminous pouring or torrential rains. Other attractions include the Sultanâ€™s Palace, the State Museum and Masjid Kristal (Crystal Mosque) in Pulau Wan Man.
Photo courtesy of amrufm.
The 2010 Monsoon Cup Terrenganu will be held from November 30 to December 5 of this year. Terrenganu is a fifty-five minute journey by air from the capital of Kuala Lumpur. Visitors can take the MAS or Air Asia to Sultan Mahmud Airport, then a bus or taxi along an eighteen kilometer journey to Kuala Terrenganu. Visitors can find accommodations at the full-service Awana Kijal Golf Beach & Spa Resport, which is equipped with a tennis court and golf course.