20 February 2015

Pong, Jelik head elite cast in Subic-to-Boracay race

Top sailors from the Asian yachting circuit, led by defending champion Frank Pong and his 75-foot boat Jelik, will set sail in a highly technical and tactical battle in the Standard Insurance sixth Subic Bay to Boracay Race (SBBR) from Feb. 27 to March 2.

Pong, the 2013 Asian Yachting Grand Prix Skipper of the Year, will spearhead the bids of some 30-35 competitors in the grueling 210 nautical mile race that will test their skills tackling the shifting winds of Subic and the treacherous Verde Passage on the way to the scenic island of Boracay.

“This will be a very exciting race considering we will see a lot of participation from highly competitive boats in Southeast Asia,” said Standard Insurance chairman Judes Echauz during yesterday’s press conference at Passion Restaurant in Resorts World.

Sailors from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines will vie for the top plum in the Primary Racing Class, which will feature a mega yacht in the field in the 110-footer Ocean Runner skippered by Dirk Van Straalen.

Action in the waters of Bora won’t stop upon completion of the SBBR as sailors will splash back into competition with the Boracay Cup Regatta from March 2-6.

Stakes in the race are high as, according to Commodore Ricky Sandoval, chair of the organizing committee, and Jun Avecilla, co-chairman of the Saturday Afternoon Gentlemen Sailing and president of The Lighthouse Marina Resort, it will be part of the basis for yearend honors in the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Circuit.

Winners in the SBBR and the Boracay Cup Regatta will earn precious points in the race for the AY skipper and Yacht of the Year honors.

Organizers and their partners sealed their partnership with the signing of a memorandum of understanding yesterday.

Affixing their signatures were Echauz, Sandoval, Avecilla, PLDT Alpha Enterprise business head Richard Echon, PLDT SME AVP and head of SME-marketing Amil Azurin, Cebu Pacific Air CEO Garry Kingshott, Olongapo City sports coordinator David Bayarong, Philippine Coast Guard’s RADM Cecil Chen, RADM William Melad and Capt. Oscar Endeno.

“Over the years, we work tirelessly with our sailing partners toward opening more doors for occasions in spreading the spark of sailing and enliven big boat racing pursuits in the Philippines,” said Avecilla. (Olmin Leyba, Philippine Star)