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BPI Subic Regatta 2024

by Guy Nowell, Asia Editor 14 Apr 03:00 PDT 3-6 April 2024
Misty Mountain. BPI Subic Regatta © Guy Nowell / BPI

The BPI Subic Regatta wrapped up on Saturday 06 April after four days of sparkling sailing in a very special location. A mixture of windward/leeward and around-the-cans courses had the seven-boat IRC Racing division and the two Cruisers thrashing it out in good sailing breeze every day, and no exceptions.

Racing started with a 3 1/2 hour trip round the bay that took the fleet north to Barretto, south to Grande Island, east to Vasco's and west to Mayanga before finishing in front of The Lighthouse. The breeze was funky in the south, but held across the rest of the course. A missing SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) mark caused some consternation, but the five-man International Jury ruled that nobody had gained advantage from their various actions to solve the problem, and the result was allowed to stand.

Subic Centennial II has been off the race card for some years, so it was extra good the see Martin Tanco and his crew throw down the gauntlet at the start of day two, starting clean and fast at the boat end while everyone else embroiled themselves in a shoving match up towards the pin. Centennial hung on tight to the lead until the last leg of the race, when she was overtaken by Jun Villanueva's Belatrix who took line honours but definitely not the handicap win. In fact, Centennial corrected out a full 8 min in front of Misty Mountain, Belatrix and Selma Star who all finished within 31 seconds of each other. The breeze was steady all day, but there were enough swirls and puffs on the racecourse to keep the tacticians on their toes.

The day 3 programme went back to a 'long' race, with the course carefully not including the errant SBMA #6 mark. Since this series started with the Corregidor Cup last November, Belatrix has gone from strength to strength, and used all of her 52 feet of waterline length to good advantage, extending her lead both on the water and on the scoreboard. After three days' racing Villanueva and the Belatrix Belles were poised to take out the regatta, but with Misty Mountain (George Hackett, Mills 43) close behind and waiting to pounce on any errors.

But the errors weren't really there. The last day's racing consisted of two windward-leeward courses with a start line down by the shipyards (when the Race Offiecr had got the ground tackle to stick)and the top mark 1.9nm away at 080° near The Lighthouse finishing line. Belatrix scored 1,2 and Misty Mountain followed through with 2,1 for second place Overall in the Subic Regatta, IRC Racing division.

In the two-boat Cruising Division, John Quirk's elegant 8M Anthea won all her races against Rene Ticson's Papaya II with relative ease despite her 100-year+ pedigree. Born and bred as a racing boat, and no mistake.

And then it was all over bar the shouting. A big stage was set up in front of The Lighthouse for the presentation of the Awards, with a lavish buffet and generous bar to hand to satisfy appetites and thirst. On the waterfront overlooking Subic Bay is a great place for a party, with an evening breeze coming off the water, and the good company of fellow sailors with which to celebrate four outstanding days of yacht racing. The sort of stuff that memories are made of, so roll on next year.

The Subic Regatta was the fourth and final event in the BPI Private Wealth Signature Yacht Race Series 2023/24 that began with the Corregidor Cup in November last year. The Busuanga Cup followed in January, and then the Boracay 200 in February. A total of 23 boats competed over the four events. The Series is a very welcome and well-timed initiative sponsored by the Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) Private Wealth division aimed as revivifying the 'big boats' sailing scene in the Philippines.

The Corregidor Cup was based out of Caylabne Resort and Marina, an easy 2-hr drive out of Manila that leads to a delightful waterfront establishment currently under renovation. The start line is 500m from the breakwater, and the racecourse takes in the islands of Corregidor, La Monja, and Carabao, and Fort Drum, 'the concrete battleship'.

The Busuanga Cup opens with a 127nm passage race from pretty Punta Fuego to Black Island in northern Palawan, and then bases itself at the Marina del Sol in an arm off Busuanga Bay for two more days of islands racing in the environs of Sangat and Chindonan Islands. Heavenly sailing, sandwiched between a blue, blue sky and the blue, blue sea. Busuanga also boasts a reputation as one of the Philippines' top wreck dive areas, and many of the fleet stay on in the area for a few days for a rally among the bejewelled islands.

The Boracay 200 needs no introduction to sailors in Asia. In pre-Covid years it enjoyed an enviable reputation as a short (210 nm), sharp, 'long overnight' race from Subic Bay to Boracay, famous for its 3.5km long White Beach, gin-clear waters, and an apparently endless abundance of wind. 20 kts on a plate, starting at 10.00 please. Three days of inshore racing complete the event.

Ray Ordoveza's elegant Karakoa, an Excel 53 and a veteran of any number of races in Asia, held sway over the first part of the series with regatta wins in Corregidor and Busuanga, with Belatrix as the bridesmaid. Stronger breeze and an unfortunate disqualification during the Boracay event handed Karakoa a 5th place against Belatrix's 3rd, and now the series score was level. Another 5th in Subic for Karakoa and a 1st place from the ever-improving Belatrix settled the matter. 3rd Overall for the inaugural BPI Private Wealth Signature Yacht Race Series went to Jun Avecilla's seasoned campaigner, Selma Star. It's been a fabulous series, visiting some truly beautiful places, and no doubt the competitors have marked the dates for the 2024/25 series in their calendars already.

BPI Private Wealth Signature Yacht Race Series 2024/25 Corregidor Cup, 14-17 November 2024 Busuanga Cup, 09-12 January 2025 Boracay 200, 20-25 February 2025 Subic Regatta, 27-30 March 2025

There's a whole bunch more information available at the Series website: www.signatureyachtraceseries.com - News, Race Documents, Photo Gallery, Videos, Results etc

Anyone who missed out last time should be kicking themselves: all of the start points are within easy reach of Manila and Subic. If you have a boat in the Philippines, sign up now, and don't miss out on the next running of the very best sailing event in the Philippines.

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