Aussies Dominate AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge

For the fifth time in the fifteen-year history of the Philippines’ premier extreme sailing race, three all-Australian teams garnered the top honors in the 250-nautical-mile AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge. The recently concluded race sailed from Laiya to Nasugbu, Batangas, via Verde Island, Puerto Galera, Ambil Island, and Corregidor.

Challenge virgins Geoff Rowdon and Rosie Phelan finished first in four out of five offshore legs to secure their Championship. It would have been a clean sweep if fellow Australians and first-time Challenge participants Andrew and Tony Boyd had not won the third leg from Puerto Galera to Ambil Island. The Boyds finished second over-all.

Andrew Locke, who has joined the Challenge for nine years, won third place over-all with Rob Watson, who has in turn joined for three years. The duo also won the Inshore series championship.

The AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge has been held annually since 2000, and aims to put the country prominently in the international sailing calendar. From a casual bet, it has grown into a much-awaited and unique event attracting world champions and hard-core sailors. It is known for offering an entirely different race route every year, what with the Philippines’ 7,107 islands to choose from. It mixes popular tourist destinations with well-kept local secrets, and has a strong socio-civic component through its Outreach Program.

The Challenge has enjoyed strong patronage from top Australian sailors, most of who return year after year. The past Challenges wherein the top three over-all winners were Australians were in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012. Among its champions from down under are Bruce Tardrew, Sarah Turnbull, Bob Engwirda, Brad Wilson, Mick Butler, and Aaron Worall.

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. For the full results, visit


Four Schools Benefit from the AboitizPower 15th PHC Outreach Program


Photo by Sylvain Liechti

A sea of smiles and waves of gratitude overwhelmed the sailors who participated in this year’s AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge, as students and teachers from four public elementary schools thanked them for the school and medical supplies, and solar lamps that were donated through the event’s Outreach Program.


Photo by Jessie delos Reyes


Photo by Sylvain Liechti

The four beneficiary schools were Parang Elementary School in Verde Island, Ambang and Lapantay Elementary Schools in Oriental Mindoro, and Tabao Elementary School in Ambil Island. Depending on the needs of the school or community, they received notebooks, various school supplies, medicines, medical and clinical supplies, solar lamps, and a solar panel. They also received individual first-aid kits from Lifeline Rescue, the official emergency medical support of the The AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge.


Photo by Sylvain Liechti

The AboitizPower 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge is a premier extreme sailing event that takes seasoned sailors to the country’s best and oftentimes most remote islands and beaches. Because of the relative isolation and distance of some of the areas that the race visits, its organizers have come to know many seaside communities who do not have electricity or even school items as basic as chalk. For that reason, the organizers, through the generosity of the event’s sponsors and private donors, put up the Outreach Program as a way to give back and help those said communities.


Photo by Sylvain Liechti

From simple donations, the Outreach Program has become an integral part of the event that the sailors look forward to. Most sailors donate personally to the Outreach trust fund, while others give items like medicines and books.


Photo Courtesy of Jessie delos Reyes

The Outreach Program was made possible by the participants, sponsors, and particularly the private donors of the PHC. Among the private donors are Fossil, Rosita Ngu, Dr. Susan and Dr. Dennis Cruz, Uni Ballpens/ Lupel Marketing, William Westervelt, David and Alistair King, Susan and Andrew Boyd, David Brunskill, Bob Engwirda, and George Mills.

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. For the full results, visit

AboitizPower 15th PHC Combines World-Class Sailing and Outreach Programs in Batangas and Mindoro

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.

Fossil Cup

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.

Final Itinerary

15th Philippine Hobie Challenge
The Verde Island Pass Challenge
MARCH 14 – 22, 2015

Date Day Activity
March 13 FRI 1900   Welcome Party/ Press Launch , Metro Manila(Venue TBA)
March 14 SAT 0730       Assembly for Bus Transfer;32nd St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

0800     ETD for Laiya, San Juan, Batangas

1100     ETA in La Luz Beach Resort, Laiya

1400       Participants’ Registration

1500       Boat Tuning, Scrutineering, and Safety Inspections

1700     Compulsory Competitors’ Briefing at Race Control

1900     OPENING DINNER PARTY, La Luz Beach Resort

March 15 SUN 1000       Laiya Inshore Races
March 16 MON 0800       LEG 1- LAIYA TO VERDE ISLAND

1400       ETA in Puerto Galera

March 18 WED 1000       Puerto Galera Inshore Races

1630       Turn-over of Outreach Donations to Two (2) Mangyan            Communities, Elizabeth’s Hideaway Inn


1630       Turn-over of Outreach Donations to Tabao Elementary School, Ambil


1830       Optional Tour: Malinta Tunnel Night Tour


1800       AWARDS DINNER PARTY, Canyon Cove

March 22 SUN 1000       End of Challenge; ETD for Manila

7-time Champ Returns to the Challenge

Seven-time over-all winner of the Philippine Hobie Challenge, Bob Engwirda, has made official his entry to PHC15. He will be competing with his usual crew, with whom he won six of his PHC championships, Brad Wilson.


Bob and Brad sailing home ahead of the fleet in the final leg of the 14th Philippine Hobie Challenge. Notice Brad’s unique sailing pants 🙂

Engwirda’s first win at the PHC was in 2005, during the Cebu to Bohol Challenge. His crew was fellow Australian Jerome Binder. Since then, Engwirda has returned to win 5 consecutive championships in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and again in 2014. All of these, he won with Wilson.

Wilson has also won the Challenge in 2012 with Mick Butler, thus chalking up seven over-all wins for himself, too.


4th FOSSIL CUP Confirmed for PHC15

The Fossil Cup, a time-adjusted series that rewards PHC sailors who continually improve throughout the legs, has been confirmed to be awarded again for PHC15.

As PHC15 Co-chair Monchu Garcia explains, “Basically the Fossil Cup is a racing using a “handicaping system” much like in golf.  So it ‘equalizes’ each team and allows the newbies to compete with the pros.” 

It was founded and currently privately funded by Andrew “Fossil” Thompson of Australia. Fossil, as he is dearly called by fellow sailors, has been a long-term supporter of the PHC. Through his wife Virginia, he has already gotten in touch with the Secretariat to confirm his entry to the PHC15 as a guest, and to arrange for the Fossil Cup prizes.

Int’l Teams Start Signing up; Chairman Leads Locals

Yesterday was quite a busy day as the first day of the month brought in notifications of official entries.

Klaus Lienau and Scott McCook from Germany and New Zealand respectively are now registered, as well as long-time Challenge supporters Bruce Tardrew and Sarah Turnbull from Australia.

Bruce Tardrew and Sarah Turnbull accepting their 2nd Place award from PHC14. Tardew's

Bruce Tardrew and Sarah Turnbull accepting their 2nd Place award from PHC14. Tardew’s first podium finish at the PHC was back in 2006, when he won Second Over-all Winner with Gerard Ryan in the Bicol to Boracay Challenge. Photo by Edsel Ochoa

Meanwhile, PHC15 Chairman Eddie Legarda leads the local teams by being the first to make his entry official. He will be sailing with Edwin Lucero.

Photo by Blood Red Clothing

Eddie Legarda and Edwin Lucero. Photo courtesy of Blood Red

Returnees Will King, Chris Wild, David King, and Alistair King had signed up earlier on, with Andrew and Tony Boyd registering after, to be the first three teams raising the Australian flag in the 15th Philippine Hobie Challenge.

Two more teams are expected to be added to the current participant list, as John and Robert Morton of Australia complete their registration and as a returning PHC champion makes his entry official as well.

Interested sailors are encouraged to complete their registrations as soon as possible to get priority on Hobie charters and room assignments. To start the registration process, click here. To view the current participant list, click here.