PERMAI Hotel Match Racing Team have been dealt a blow ahead of the second leg of the Malaysian Match Racing Circuit (MMRC) at the Marina Jabatan Laut, in Pulau Indah, Selangor, today.
The team from Terengganu, second in the first leg in Lumut, Perak in April, will be without tactician Nik Ashraff Qaedi Nik Azizan and pitman Syed Ahmad Shahmi Syed Ahmad Helmi.
Skipper Hazwan Hazim Dermawan said Nik Ashraff, who is now coaching Perak's sailing team, will be in Kuantan with his team for the Malaysia Games while Syed Ahmad could not secure leave.
"It is quite a blow for us to lose two experienced crew members considering we are going to Pulau Indah to try and win the competition," said Hazwan.
The 23-year-old, who won the Malaysian Match Racing championship in 2009, said replacements Mohd Saiful Bukhari and Muhammad Faiz, who used to sail for the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, are both experienced sailors and are familiar with two other members of the team -- Mohd Hazarul Muhammad and Amir Muiz Jamaluddin.
Hazwan said his team are now second behind Jeremy Koo's Koo Racing Team, who once again start as favourites.
Koo, MMRC champion for the past two years, is leading the circuit with 25 points, followed by Hazwan on 22 while Royal Malaysian Navy Match Racing Team 1 skipper Masyuri Rahmat and Royal Malaysian Navy Match Racing Team 2 helmsman Harisfabillah Muhammad are third and fourth with 19 and 16 points respectively. By Zainuddin Muhammad