The Philippine Hobie Challenge has once again tested top international and local sailors in its recently concluded 14th edition, held in Cebu, Negros, Guimaras and Iloilo. It was a grueling five days of inter-island races, and two days of inshore races for 20 two-person teams on Hobie 16 catamarans.
At the top surfaced the tandem of Bob Engwirda and Brad Wilson, who added the 14th PHC to their long list of previous PHC Championships. Engwirda and Wilson won all of the five offshore legs as well as the inshore races to beat fellow Australians Bruce Tardrew and Sarah Turnbull, who came in second. Fiji’s Grahame Southwick and Sharon Rayner finished third.
Rayomarine’s Monchu Garcia and his daughter Bianca emerged as the top Filipino team at fourth place, followed by Cherry Mobile’s Mike Ngu and Lindo Pahayahay at fifth place.
Blood Red Inshore Races
The Challenge warmed up with inshore races off the coasts of Malapascua and Bantayan Islands. After two separate days of racing hosted by official outfitter Blood Red, the team of Bob Engwirda, Carla Kramer, and Brad Wilson grabbed first place while the Australian-Filipino tandem of Andrew Locke and Eric Tomacruz got second place. Mike Ngu and Lindo Pahayahay got third place.
AboitizPower Leg- Malapascua to Bantayan Islands
The first island-crossing race was blessed with beautiful weather, and enabled Engwirda and Wilson to be the first team to be welcomed by Santa Fe, Bantayan’s sandy-bottom aquamarine beach. They were followed by the close race between Tardrew and Southwick, who finished second and third respectively.
Nautica Leg- Bantayan to Gigantes Islands
Bruce Tardrew chased Bob Engwirda again in the race to Gigantes Islands in Northern Iloilo. Engwirda pulled away by several minutes to win first place, as Tardrew arrived second, with Andrew Locke following him at third.
Regatta Leg- Gigantes Islands to Lakawon Island, Negros
Averaging eight hours of sailing south from Gigantes to Lakawon Island just off Cadiz City, the Regatta Leg is the longest leg in the Challenge. The podium finishers line-up changed slightly as Monchu Garcia clocked in at 8:00:09 to snag third place, with Botswana sailors Andrew and Sue Walker beating them by a hairline at 8:00:06 to win second place. Bob Engwirda arrived ahead of the pack at 7:29:09 to remain at first place.
Potato Corner Leg- Lakawon to Inampulugan Island, Guimaras
The next day had the sailors racing down Guimaras strait’s ten-foot waves. Mike Ngu and Grahame Southwicke raced closely and arrived only a couple of minutes after the other to snag third place and second place respectively. Engwirda beat Southwick by six minutes and twenty-six seconds, remaining unmoved at first place.
Hobie Australasia and Rayomarine Leg- Guimaras to Oton, Iloilo
The fleet had to travel south of Guimaras Island and back up to Iloilo in harsh conditions—up to 35-knot winds—for the big finish. Engwirda and Wilson wrapped up their winning streak with a big red bow as they arrive first on the safety of shore in Iloilo. Andrew Locke recovered from boat damage in the previous leg to come in at second. Albert Altura and Philippine Sailing Team’s Joel Mejarito posted their best time in the series to sneak in at third.
Competitors from the Netherlands, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Spain, Portugal, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines all also proved triumphant in finishing the extreme course, which was tracked online by GPS provider WRU.ph.
In addition to battling the winds and waves, PHC sailors also got the chance to explore some of the best islands of the country and conduct outreach programs in Yolanda-stricken seaside communities. The PHC organizers, and partners Stiftung Solarenergie and REEF donated solar lamps, educational and medical supplies to selected schools and communities in the various pit stops.
The Philippine Hobie Challenge is the flagship event of the Philippine Inter-Island Sailing Foundation (PHINSAF), a non-profit dedicated to the promotion of sailing for sports and tourism. The Philippine Hobie Challenge is sponsored by sponsored Aboitiz Power, Nautica, Regatta, Potato Corner, Hobie Australasia, Rayomarine, Blood Red, Toyota Pasig, Taal Lake Yacht Club, Health Care Advantage Training Institute, WRU, Stiftung Solarenergie, REEF and Headware.