The country’s premier extreme sailing race once again conquered seas and hearts in its latest edition, the AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge held last March 14 to 22, 2015. Thirteen of the world’s most daring sailors from the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Tanzania, Canada, and the Netherlands tested their skills in the weeklong, 250 nautical-mile race on Hobie 16 sailboats.
Sailing from Laiya to Nasugbu, Batangas thru Verde Island, Puerto Galera, Ambil, and Corregidor, the AboitizPower 15th PHC continued its long tradition of mixing tough racing legs, breath-taking scenery, and a heart-tugging outreach program to small villages and indigenous communities—three ingredients that make this regatta unique and unforgettable to those who become a part of it.
Prior to the competition, festivities began with a welcome party at sports specialty store R.O.X. and an opening dinner hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in La Luz Beach Resort, Laiya, Batangas the following night. Afterwards, each race day was punctuated either by music-filled nights or laidback socials under starry skies.
Playa Laiya Inshore Race
The competition warmed up with a short race from La Luz Beach Resort to the coast of Landco’s leisure development Playa Laiya in San Juan, Batangas. Light winds plagued the morning, thus prompting ISAF Race Officer Jerry Rollin to declare just one race, which was won by Andrew Locke and Rob Watson (AUS). They were followed by locals Eric Tomacruz and Andy Aguila in second place and by Challenge veterans Bruce Tardrew and Sarah Turnbull (AUS) in third place.
La Luz Beach Resort Leg 1: Laiya to Verde Island
The first off-shore leg sent sailors across Tayabas Bay halfway towards the direction of Marinduque before turning west into the coral-fringed Verde Island. Grade school students of Parang Elementary School, a beneficiary of the Challenge’s Outreach Program, welcomed the sailors as they came on shore. First among them were Geoff Rowdon and Rosie Phelan (AUS), followed by Andrew and Tony Boyd (AUS), and then by Tardrew and Turnbull.
Rayomarine Leg 2: Verde Island to Puerto Galera
The following day was a race that crisscrossed the busy sealanes surrounding Verde Island. PRO Rollin shortened the course, cutting off the mark at Chicken Feather Island, and sending the fleet straight to Boquete Island in Puerto Galera where ice-cold rum cokes awaited them. First served were Geoff and Rosie, who came in 2 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of Andrew Locke and Rob Watson to chalk up their second first place. Andrew and Tony Boyd sailed in third.
Standard Insurance Inshore Race
As Puerto Galera has a long history as a sailing destination—its name translates to ‘Port of Galleons’—it was only fitting that the fleet enjoy more of its fair winds. A series of four inshore races were conducted, and after all the scores were tallied, Locke and Watson won over Tardrew and Turnbull by a hairline, thus marking Locke’s first championship of the Inshore Series in nine years. Just one point away at third place were Andrew and Tony Boyd.
The afternoon was dedicated to a meaningful outreach program to two Iraya Mangyan communites, Ambang and Lapantay. Lack of road access and travel time prevented sailors from visiting their communities, so the pupils and teachers from Ambang and Lapantay were the ones who went to the sailors. They crossed three rivers and travelled mostly on foot for four hours to reach Boquete Island to receive school supplies, medicines, clinic equipment, and solar lamps.
Potato Corner Leg 3: Puerto Galera to Ambil Island
The resumption of the offshore legs saw the strongest finish of a Filipino team in the Challenge series as Eddie Legarda and Edwin Lucero (PH) sailed in third at the mark off Ambil Island in Occidental Mindoro. Top honors for the 43 nautical mile leg went to Andrew and Tony Boyd who beat Rowdon and Phelan by 17 minutes.
The Outreach Program of the Challenge was concluded in Ambil Island, wherein Mr. Conrado Capuno of Tabao Elementary School presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the participants, sponsors, and donors of the event for donating school supplies, medicines, and a solar panel to their school. Tabao rounds up the four beneficiaries of the Outreach Program. In addition to the donations mentioned, the event’s official emergency medical support team, Lifeline Rescue, also gave first aid kits to all the beneficiary communities.
GoPro Leg 4: Ambil Island to Fortune Island and Corregidor
The GoPro leg from Ambil to Corregidor provided exciting tracks for those following the race via the live GPS tracking of WRU.PH. However, when the first of the fleet arrived at the halfway mark at Fortune Island by noon, dying winds and concern for the sailors’ safety resulted in another shortened course. Nevertheless, the fleet continued to Corregidor to spend a night in the historical island, complete with a Malinta Tunnel Night Tour.
The day’s winners were Rowdon and Phelan, the Boyds, and Locke and Watson in first, second, and third, respectively.
Canyon de Boracay Leg 5: Corregidor to Canyon Cove, Nasugbu, Batangas
The final leg of the Challenge was held off the coast of Nasugbu, from Terrazas de Punta Fuego, Fuego Point, Twin Islands, and finally the home run to Canyon Cove Beach Resort. Rowdon and Phelan finished again in first place, followed by Tardrew and Turnbull in second place, and the Boyds in third place.
At the Awards Dinner Party held that night, over-all top honors went to all-Australian teams, two of which were in the Challenge for the first time: Champions Geoff Rowdon and Rosie Phelan , Andrew and Tony Boyd in second place, while Challenge veterans Andrew Locke and Rob Watson in third place.
The Fossil Cup, an awards category founded by one of the most ardent supporters of the Challenge, and which uses a handicapping system that rewards sailors who improved the most during the week-long race, also had its share of the spotlight. Alex Chen and Awang Lin (TAIWAN), John and Rob Morton (AUS), and George Van Veen and Marielle Munniksma (NDL) won first, second, and third places respectively.
True to its roots, the AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge once again shined the spotlight on the country as a sailing paradise that can satisfy any sailor—be they casual weekend warriors or seasoned veterans. It has stayed true to what its organizers, the Philippine Inter-Island Sailing Foundation, envisioned it—as an event that promotes sailing as an eco-friendly sport, takes the country’s beautiful spots on the world stage, and gives back to the remote and needy seaside communities in the race route.
The AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge was sponsored by La Luz Beach Resort, Rayomarine, Potato Corner, GoPro, Canyon de Boracay Premiere, Standard Insurance, Landco, and Blood Red Clothing. Emergency Medical Support was provided by Lifeline Rescue, while GPS Tracking was provided by WRU.PH. It was also supported by the Department of Tourism- Region IV-A, the Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro, Taal Lake Yacht Club, Novellino Wines, Seahorse Marine, and R.O.X.