Thursday, February 27, 2020

20th Philippine Hobie Challenge: Sailing around the idyllic archipelago of adventure | Beautiful Life

Hobie cats in action around Sibuyan, Romblon.

 With an archipelago of 7,651 charming islands and an almost infinite coastline of powdery beaches and crystal-clear water, one the most exciting ways to explore the Philippines is by sailing around them in a fun and adventure-laden tournament. 

Welcome dance by the students of Sawang Elementary School in Romblon.

The Philippine Inter-Island Sailing Federation (Phinsaf), the exponent of long-distance sailing in the country, just did this with the recent staging of the 20th Philippine Hobie Challenge which ran from Laiya Beach in San Juan, Batangas to Boracay Island.

Bonbon Beach, Romblon.

Regarded as the country’s premier international extreme sailing event, the annual five-day regatta has been promoting earth-friendly sports through sailing for more than two decades, and exploring hidden islands along the way.

The event is a unique way to sharpen sailing skills, create environmental awareness, promote sports tourism, and support communities through outreach programs.

A recipient of the Philippine Sports Tourism Awards in 2016, the Challenge has pioneered the use of the Hobie Cat 16, a 16-foot long, twin-hulled wind-powered sailboat capable of negotiating open seas.

Seafront Residences in Laiya was the starting point.

Supported by Seafront Residences by AboitizLand, Rayomarine, GoPro, Blood Red, and the Taal Lake Yacht Club, this year’s edition is a throwback to its original route when the regatta was introduced in 1999. See related article here.

In the recently-concluded race, the country’s sailing history was rewritten as Portuguese sailor Maria Videoira-Hagedorn emerged as the first woman skipper to rule the event. Along with compatriot Tomas Camelo, the tandem edged 10 other teams from the Philippines, Australia, the United States and Hong Kong.

Hobie challenge winners with Phinsaf officers.

An expat executive who hails from Lisbon, Videoira is married to Filipino sailor Joe Hagedorn, and has been racing in the annual regatta for more than a decade.

The duo also topped the Leg 1 from Laiya Beach in San Juan, Batangas to Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, and the Leg 2 which ended in Concepcion, Romblon to establish a formidable lead.

Geoff Rowden and Rosie Phelan of Australia settled at a close second, and topped the photo-finish Leg 3 from Concepcion to Bonbon Beach and the Leg 4 which sailed to Sibuyan Island and returned to Bonbon, to narrow the lead.

Rounding up the winning circle is Australian couple Keli and Arli Corlett at third place which has been sailing together for over 35 years and were once Hobie Grand Master World Champions.

Spectators on board yachts cruise among the racers.

Adding fun to the race were yachts, which cruised leisurely and enjoyed the sea, sun and sand, the fellowship nights in the islands, and everything in between.

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