By Jerome Lagunzad
A fresh course that offers a new set of tough challenges awaits all sailors who will see action for the Standard Insurance-backed Subic Bay around Verde Island Passage Race and the Subic Bay Cup Regatta starting this Saturday until March 2.
Due to alarming environmental concerns on the usual pristine waters of Boracay Island, the main battleground of previous editions, event organizers have decided to bring this year’s race to the Verde Island Passage, considered as “the center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity in the world.”
All protagonists will still need to negotiate a 200-mile race, the same distance of the Subic Bay to Boracay tilt, sailing off from Subic Bay down to Verde Island Passage in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro and back to Subic Bay on the same day.
“This Verde Island race will be the most challenging race considering that on the way back to Subic, this will be mostly a kite run,” said newly-reelected Philippine Sailing Association president Ernesto “Judes” Echauz during the event’s press launch yesterday at the Kamayan restaurant in Malate, Manila.
Multi-titled Standard Insurance Centennial III, owned by Echauz himself, is back to defend its throne in the IRC 1 division against a crack field that includes Hong Kong-based boats, Antipodes of Geoff Hill and Sam Chan’s Freefire, and another local entry Karakoa of owner Ray Ordoveza.
Meanwhile, FarEast 28R boats will make its debut in the Subic Bay Cup Regatta, with the likes of local boats, Centennial II of Martin Tanco and Emerson Villena’s Standard Insurance-PSA, out to hold its ground against foreign counterparts from Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
“Fittingly, the offshore race highlights Verde Island passage, the world’s center of marine biodiversity. We want to promote the keelboat sailing and allowed FarEast 28R to join regattas,” said Subic Sailing Club organizing committee chairman Jun Avecilla.
As much as they want to bring the annual Subic Bay to Boracay Race (SBBR) and Boracay Cup Regatta in the signature beach of Malay, Aklan, Echauz, 70, admitted that they adhere to strict environmental compliance and put utmost importance to all parties involved.
“We hope to bring it back next year or when Boracay pull its acts together and do something with its serious environmental problems,” said the veteran sailor, the co-recipient of the Executive of the Year award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association during its annual PSA Awards Night next week.
Supporting the initial SBVIPR and SBCR events are Tanduay Rum, Pepsi Cola, Broadwater Marine, Nano Fixit and JC.