19 February 2013

HK yachtsman wins Subic Bay to Boracay Race

Hong Kong-based yachtsman Frank Pong made mincemeat of the competition to snatch provisional honors in the Subic Bay to Boracay Race on Monday.

Pong steered his Reichel Pugh 76 Jelik to the unofficial victory with a time of eight hours and 59 minutes, just a fraction of the time it normally took a yacht to navigate the 210-nautical-mile course.

Jelik was ahead of Geof Hill’s Smith 72 Custom Antipodes. Filipino businessman Jude Echauz’s TP52 Standard Insurance Centennial III came in third after 23 hours and 14 minutes of hard sailing.

The Subic to Boracay Race is classified as a category 3 offshore race by the International Sailing Federation. The course takes from 17 to 40 hours, depending on the size of the yacht and sea and wind conditions in the route.

A total of 11 local and foreign entries in the racing-, cruiser racing- and cruising-class divisions left Subic Bay on Saturday for Boracay. The competitors vied not only for the Subic-Boracay Race Cup and the Boracay Regatta Cup, but also for the prestigious “Asian Yachtsman of the Year” and “Yacht of the Year” titles given by the Asian Yachting Circuit.

At the race’s end, however, only 10 yachts made it into the harbor of the island-paradise and two yachts retired from the race after encountering problems, organizers reported.

These included defending overall champion Jun Avecilla’s Benetau 36.7 Selma Star C! Calibre Rox, which limped with a broken spinnaker, and Sam Chan’s TP52 FreeFire, which was demasted while passing through Fortune Islands just four hours out of Subic Bay.

FreeFire, which shattered the Hainan-to-Hong Kong yacht race record in October last year, was one of the favorites in the IRC Racing Class, and along with Neil Pryde’s Hi-Fi, was expected to provide stiff competition to Jelik.

Following the end of the Subic-to-Boracay leg, the yachts continued with more races for the Boracay Cup Regatta from February 18 to 22.

The two races are jointly organized by the Subic-based Saturday Afternoon Gentlemen Sailing group and the Boracay Cup Organizing Committee. (Henry EmpeƱo, Business Mirror)