MORE than 30 Grand Prix race boat crews from all over Southeast Asia will take on a nautical version of Russian Roulette when they set sail on February 27 to March 2 for the 6th Standard Insurance Subic Bay to Boracay Race.
Speaking during the press launch at Resorts World Manila on Wednesday, Ricky Sandoval, chairman of the Subic to Boracay Race, bared that the event is the longest sailing race in the Philippines.
The Boracay Cup Regatta will follow immediately on March 2-6.
The 40 hour-long race is recognized by the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Circuit under Marty Rijkuris, meaning the scores will count toward the AY Skipper and Yacht of the Year race.
The race to Boracay and the Boracay Cup are two out of the 12 races which are conducted across Southeast Asia - Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand Hong Kong will host the other events — that award points to the winners. The accolades are given at the end of the racing season in Koh Samui.
Around 30 to 35 yachts from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines are expected to take part in this year’s event, classified in several divisions ranging from the primary racing class of big boats of 75-footers and the 111-foot Ocean Run. In the light division are the cruising racer and cruising class that also include twin-hulled catamarans.
Among the favorites is Jelik, 2013 Yacht of the Year, owned by Frank Pong, AY Grand Prix Skipper of 2013, which snatched the combined SI Subic to Boracay race and Boracay Cup Regatta 2014 title from two-year champion Karakoa captained by Ray Ordoveza in the IRC racing class.
Standard Insurance chairman Judes Echauz, an avid yachtsman, described Boracay as a “Mecca” for yachtsmen coming from abroad to our waters, adding the winds are very strong during the regatta that will circle the world-famous island whose very clear waters offer a wonderful tourism experience for the visiting sailors.
Starting from the shifting winds of Subic Bay (caused by its own micro-climate), the race is expected to be “grueling” according to Sandoval, particularly when the boats transition from the South China Sea to the Sibuyan Sea via Verde Passage, the narrow body of water between the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, one of the busiest sea lanes in the Philippines.
The Philippine Coast Guard will provide escorts for the participants during the race for safety and security.
“It will be a very technical and tactical race… the bigger boats will have an advantage,” said Sandoval, who noted incidents of dismasting in the past.
A longer alternate route passes on the western side of Mindoro with more sea room although the commodore noted that nobody has been “bold enough” to take it.
“It’s like Russian Roulette. It’s a gamble," Sandoval said.
The regatta is spearheaded by Saturday Afternoon Gentlemen Sailing (SAGS), Asian Yachting Grand Prix and Philippine Sailing Association, co-presented by PLDT Alpha, in conjunction with Resorts World Manila, Watercraft Venture Corporation and The Lighthouse Marina Resort.
Backing the event are the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Subic Bay HATS & Visitors Board, the City of Olongapo, Department of Tourism, Province of Aklan, Municipality of Malay, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Regatta’s official airline partner, Cebu Pacific.