The first Paraw Regatta race started in 1973 with the mission to preserve the historic value of the paraws. The competing paraws sailed through the Iloilo Strait between the islands of Guimaras and Panay duing the 30-kilometer race.
Director Edwin Trompeta of the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas emphasized that it is very important to educate the people especially the younger generation to look back and take pride in these native sail boats which for hundred of years ago became the vessels that carried the ten Malayan Datus with their clan from Borneo and established the first Malayan settlement in what is now Malandog, Hamtik Antique.
'Paraw is a forerunner of the sailboats that were used by our forefathers to settle in this part of the world. Paraw is a celebration of people’s lifestyle and heritage,' Trompeta emphasized.
A paraw is a native-style outrigger sailing boat constructed from wood and bamboo, and is comprised of a single hull flanked by two outriggers for stability.
Even up to this day this type of sea vessels are commonly used for fishing, or to facilitate travel and trade between islands, sightseeing tours in the region’s beautiful islets.
'It is also important that we recognize the 'paraws' contribution to our tourism industry now, but the Paraw Regatta actually started during the time when there was some kind of an oil crisis that these vessels were promoted as alternative vessels for sea transportation, using only the wind to make it run, and of course environment friendly,' Trompeta said.
'They are enormously fun to sail, and perfect for beach hopping,' Trompeta said as he emphasized that the paraw is a strikingly fast boat, making 20 to 30 kph through the waves.
Paraws are fitted with outrigger floats of bamboo to stabilize the boat and prevent the slim main hull from tipping over, and with their colorful sails local and foreign tourists jampacked the the Sto Nino Sur Arevalo shorelines in Villa, Iloilo City, to watch their favorite sailboat racers.
Trompeta said that the activity has been adjudged by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines as the Best Tourism Sports event of the year in 2010.
Trompeta also recalled that some five to ten years ago, the Paraw Regatta attracted some Americans, Germans and Singaporeans to join the 30-kilometer native sailboat race, and indeed 'this is a spectacular event as it is also considered the oldest sailing event in Asia'.