Text and photos by Ana Valenzuela, InterAksyon.com. · Sunday, March 17, 2013 · 3:48 pm


Recognized for its banana-shaped hulls, the Hobie 16 is the boat of choice for the 13th Philippine Hobie Challenge. Photo by Ana Valenzuela, InterAksyon.com.

‘Have you ever gone sailing?’

Monchu Garcia was once asked this question. But Garcia, who has been boating and fishing a lot, been on speedboats, never did once try sailing, so the definitive answer was, “no.”

Then the man replied, “Not yet? Wait, until you try it.”

And when he did get into the sports, Garcia has been a sailing enthusiast ever since. “If you have been on a boat or a bangka, it is so different,” he says. “The minute you are in the boat, you will feel the exhilaration of being powered by nothing but the wind. But at the same time having full control of where you want to go, because if you know how to navigate the sail, you can take the boat anywhere, no matter where the wind is blowing.”

Garcia is a representative of the Philippine Inter-Island National Sailing Foundation (PHINSAF), which together with the Ayala Land Premier residential-leisure development, Anvaya Cove hosted the recently concluded 13th Philippine Hobie Challenge last February 23 up to March 1, 2013.

“Last year, we held the National Hobie Competition at Anvaya,” remarks Garcia. “It is a perfect place for sailing—the winds and the beach were very nice so we invited them to be a sponsor again, this time for the Hobie Challenge.”

This year, the Hobie Challenge had 20 teams, nine of which are foreigners coming from Australia, Italy, France, Taiwan, and USA. The Australian team even has a former world champion.

The fleets explored Zambales, Subic, Nasugbu, Calatagan, Anilao, Puerto Galera, and even some parts of Palawan. “It started in Candelaria, Quezon and finished in Anvaya Cove, Morong, Bataan,” Paul Symes Chairman of the 13th Philippine Hobie Challenge Committee Chairman tells us.


Paul Symes this year’s Philippine Hobie Challenge Committee Chairman. Photo by Ana Valenzuela, InterAksyon.com.

“The idea of the challenge is to go from location to location,” Symes says. “So, with the Philippines having more than 7,000 islands the whole idea is to visit as many islands as you can in a week.”

The actual race was about 250 miles over five days, but the entire event is about nine days. “Each leg is based on distance as opposed to time,” Symes elaborates. There would be five legs, the average leg is about 40 nautical miles, with the shortest leg measuring about 18 nautical miles, and the longest about 55 nautical miles. Depending on the wind strength, the target sailing time is about four to six hours of battling the winds.

The Philippine Hobie Challenge is touted to as the most extreme sailing event in Asia. This is because of the distance, the race covering 250 miles in five days. Also because of the weather, as this happens on the peak of the amihan season, so competitors can expect strong winds and rough seas. Most importantly, it is done in a small boat, the Hobie 16, the second largest fleet in the world.

“In a big yacht, with a 10, 15, or 20 crew members, one person does only one thing, or maybe three or four people do the same thing, but in a Hobie Challenge and there are two people, there are a lot of things to do,” Garcia explains. “So, one person does a lot of things simultaneously, as well as balancing yourself on the boat, so that you don’t flip over.”

What more the Hobie Challenge encourages design sailing, wherein seafarers are not allowed to do any alterations to their Hobie 16, which is a difficult boat to maneuver. “It is only how tight you pull the sails, how you position the rig, you cannot add different sails,” comments Garcia. “So in one design racing, it puts everybody in the same playing field and it takes the skill of the sailors.”

In this year’s Hobie Challenge, Garcia once again sailed with his daughter, Bianca. This is the third time they participated in the regatta.

“She has been sailing since she was a little girl, (it was just) fun sailing, and then three or four years ago, I asked her to race with me, the short races, the inshore, the regattas, and she liked it,” Garcia recalls.

Last year they even finished third in one the legs in the Hobie Challenge in Palawan. “You need a certain weight or balance in the boat, so it is perfect to have her as a crew,” he says proudly of her daughter who he mentions is not that big.

“You need a little bit of athleticism for the Hobie 16,” Garcia notes. “But, sailing is just like biking you can bike for fun, you can bike at the park, and if you want to take it up the next level, you can go motocross biking. Sailing is just like that, you can do it for fun, at the same time if you want to push yourself, it can be a very athletic sport.”

“Sailing is fantastic,” he shares to what he has discovered. “You are going fast on a powerful boat, plus you are not contributing one ounce of pollution, you are not consuming energy at all. It’s a fantastic sport.”

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