Leg 5 – Pangaraycayan to El Nido

Sponsored by Aboitiz Power

The morning began as it had all week with strong easterlies entering the bay of Darocotan on the northeast tip of Palawan.  Palawan is the long leg shaped island of the Philippines on the westernmost edge of the archipelago facing the South China Sea.  The race would take us 60 km from the eastern side of the island, up over the top and down the western side to the world famous El Nido resort.  Expectations of a mild 5th day were not met as the wind came howling into the usually protected bay.  In the pre-start, the team of Mike Ngu / Lindo Pahayahay (Philippines) capsized a few hundred meters from the shore and incurred injuries which affected their final race.

At the horn, the Hobies were screaming out of the bay leaving only the rally fleet of big Lagoon catamarans still anchored.  Sailing on a broad reach, the top teams were already trapezing as they headed for the first mark still 26 km away – a small island called Cabuli at the northern tip of Palawan.  Two groups formed with the Australian leaders sailing higher to the mark while a  small group of Filipino teams led by Eddie Legarda / Edwin Lucero sailed closer to the northern shore in the 20 knot winds. The local teams made good progress towards the leaders although there was a risk of missing the mark and having to make an extra jibe.  Suddenly the team of Jun Villanueva / Nestor Soriano who were following Legarda got struck by a gust which capsized them a few hundred meters from Cabuli.  After rounding the northern island, the race turned southward and continued in the extreme wind and wave conditions with more capsizes including some of the Australian and international teams.  Many sailors completely abandoned the jibsheets and sometimes the mainsheets because of the overpowering 25 knot gusts in a mad downwind dash to El Nido.  It was sheer helming ability through the peaks and troughs of the 6 foot waves which prevented boats from pitching forward and capsizing.

1st  Bruce Tardrew / Sarah Turnbull    (2:26:50)
2nd  Mick Butler / Bradley Wilson     (2:27:10)
3rd  Andrew Locke / Ramon Dala     (2:31:20)
3rd  Natalie Hill / Jasmine Hill / Barnaby Houk  (2:31:20)

written on April 2, 2012