Text by Mayo Martin / Multimedia by Lam Shushan
Go through Component 1 of this collection: Seeing a way of lifestyle vanish
Component two: Bringing again a hundreds of years-previous tradition
RIAU ISLANDS, INDONESIA: For some Singapore people seeing at home, it is stirring nostalgic memories of times absent by – and the wistful hope that they could be introduced all over again.
We are on area at Tanjung Pinang in Bintan, streaming the pre-race festivities of a kolek or conventional sailboat regatta on Facebook Live on a cloudy day in late October.
Seeing this, Yazid Van Lamri writes: “Last viewed this with my late father at the coastal parts of (Pasir) Panjang behind hawker centre now at nearby park.. they call it ‘lumba kolek’.”
Other people like Hisham Hiseánas Huang try to remember how these tall, swish sailboats that have been portion of the region’s maritime lifestyle considering that the 1800s utilised to be raced throughout the New Calendar year Regatta and off Katong, Siglap, Telok Kurau and Bedok.
A kolek race in Bedok in 1963. (Picture: Ministry of Info and the Arts Assortment, courtesy of Countrywide Archives of Singapore)
Arthur Lee claims: “If this was portion of our Singaporean background, why not have Singapore Tourism Board organise this occasion? I think it could start from Clifford Pier, go all around Sentosa as a tourist promotional occasion, and conclusion at HarbourFront.”
Baseer Shamsudin is among those people who thinks it a excellent strategy to revive these types of local community-bonding things to do. In the previous times, kolek racing was a kampung-as opposed to-kampung occasion, much like neighbourhood football clubs.
Observe: The Facebook Live stream from Tanjung Pinang
It is all quite encouraging for Mazlan Mohd Nasir, a Singaporean who is doing the job to deliver again the sport of kolek racing to prominence all over again, at the very least in the Riau Islands. (Go through about his efforts right here.)
“It feels excellent owning these positive responses. When there are far more contributors, factors can grow to be a truth,” claims the 54-calendar year-previous, who grew up in the Southern Islands seeing his family’s kolek, Pujangga, capture the breeze. (Additional on the previous times right here.)
LIKE WRESTLING A BULL ON Drinking water
The thrill of these races isn’t like Components 1 or horse racing, exactly where the competitors burst whole-throttle from the commencing blocks. But there is a selected class when their brightly-colored huge sails slowly distribute as the crews labour to harness the wind.
And then they all of a sudden electric power previous you, and you realise how rapid these craft are. Mazlan claims they can possibly go up to eleven knots (20kph) tapping sheer wind electric power.
And simply because they often appear to be to be tilted to the side, kolek give the impression of perpetually being this close to capsizing. Straining to handle the sails, the crew stand on the gunwale at a perpendicular angle to the boat in buy to sustain balance. Within, there is often 1 man frantically bailing out the h2o coming in.
Forget F1, this appears to be like far more like a rodeo – with nine people today valiantly attempting to subdue a quite stubborn and gigantic bull.
There is a very little sense of awe when you realise just how much skill it takes – and satisfaction, also, when you try to remember that the kolek of the Riau-Singapore-Johor region in the 1800s was way forward of the English sailboat (which utilised to be beaten by the kolek in races in the sixties, Mazlan recalls).
In actuality the trapeze method of leaning out of the boat, it is stated, only came to be utilised by English sailors in the thirties.
Observe: The kolek in motion. Observe from three:05 for how the conventional compares to the modern-day sailboat.
What is at stake at these races? Mazlan claims there are trophies and a bit of cash, all around S$eighty at most for the winning workforce. But far more importantly, it’s about “the name (of the boat) and the pride”.
Towards THE STORM
Sad to say, this isn’t Mazlan’s racing time. His family’s boat capsizes two times in two races in August, which is when we initially witness Pujangga in motion in the Riau islands.
When its yellow sail vanishes from check out for the 2nd consecutive race, it’s not by yourself – 8 of the eleven boats in its classification also capsized, a testimony to how difficult this sport is. “The wind is quite potent in excess of there,” mutters Mazlan.
The drenched sailors occur up to accumulate their consolation prize of packets of nasi padang, h2o and gasoline for the experience again home. “Capsize all over again!” 1 of the sailors blurts out. They are all smiles, but Mazlan’s nephew Firhan whispers to us: “They’ll be upset.”
It is two months prior to we see Pujangga all over again, this time in Tanjung Pinang in October in the most important and remaining race to be held this calendar year. The kolek capsizes in its third consecutive race. But this time, Mazlan is beaming.
Click on on interactive tale-map: Our journey to doc Mazlan’s tale
Not only has Pujangga been joined by an additional kolek from Keban, exactly where Mazlan’s 76-calendar year-previous father lives and the loved ones is attempting to revive the racing lifestyle – Mazlan has also lastly persuaded his wife, who doesn’t share his passion, to leave Singapore for a bit and join him in Bintan for this race.
Additional than thirty kolek start out on that quite difficult circuit, circling a big island off Bintan. A fierce squall blows in 50 % an hour into the race. As the rain and winds lash out, the Pujangga is among its several victims.
But for Mazlan, this third consecutive capsize isn’t a poor result at all. Just before the storm strike, the kolek was among the frontrunners at some factors and experienced managed to arrive at the turning issue at the other island, the longest distance it experienced sailed this calendar year.
“I’m content,” he tells us. “They did it against the potent winds, which reveals you the top quality of the boat and the crew.”
He’ll have to wait around till following calendar year for his kolek to end a race. But for now, as the survivors trickle in to much cheering and excellent-natured heckling by spectators cheering for their kampong groups, it’s time to enjoy the moment.
ISLANDERS Appear Total CIRCLE
Indeed at the conclusion of the day, winning and shedding isn’t the most important thing that issues to these island-individuals.
Following 1 of the losses, we return with Mazlan to his father Mohd Nasir Awang’s compound in Keban. While we were being busy at the race, his sister Lela and the other individuals have been busy getting ready for a luxurious feast serving as both of those a celebration and a commemoration.
It is a thank-you supper for the valiant crew who gave it their all. It is also held in memory of Mazlan and Lela’s mother, Cik Nasir’s wife, who handed absent in 2003 and their brother, a diver who died in 2008. For them, loved ones and local community are 1 and the very same.
The living room has been cleared out to make room for the friends, individuals from the villages who pack them selves in to sit on the flooring as the village priest sales opportunities the prayers.
Later on, the foodstuff streams out of the kitchen area, a buffet of chicken curry, epok-epok, bubur kacang hijau, prawn porridge, roti jala and an assortment of kuehs.
Observe: Foodstuff they make at home on Keban, in 1:20 mins
As the air grows thick with cigarette smoke, Mazlan, who’s seated with the crew, leans in excess of to us and claims: “This is the time for bonding. We get alongside one another to talk and share stories.”
Since there is no race the following day, anyone stays up later than regular. Following supper, Mazlan, Cik Nasir and the crew shift outside the house to continue their banter beneath the stars.
In spite of owning lived much of their lives in Singapore, it’s obvious just how potent these Singaporeans’ bonds are with the people today of Keban, who have embraced them in transform.
For Cik Nasir, it’s a lifestyle that has occur whole circle: The son of a penghulu who still left Keban to create a loved ones (and even aid a new country uncover its footing) is now again home.
For his possess son, Mazlan, soon after shedding touch with his kampung childhood by the sea and his beloved kolek, he has rediscovered in his father’s hometown. And now he shuttles among two spots he calls home, to retain a special tradition afloat for the following era.
Go through Component 1 and Component two of Mazlan’s tale. Coming up: A former Singapore nationwide sailor turns artist documenting conventional boats.