Ten intrepid teams sailing to five islands across four provinces in five days marked the 30th anniversary of MDI at the Philippine Hobie Challenge 2019. MDI was the title sponsor of this 19th edition of the adrenaline-filled regatta considered one of Asia’s premier adventure sailing events, which kicked off from Donsol (the “whale shark capital of the Philippines”) in Sorsogon to Sicogon Island in Iloilo from February 18 to 22, 2019. The event was a unique way of gathering sailing enthusiasts from the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, and the United States who gave back to schools in the communities of islands they sailed from.
Local government officials led by Sorsogon Governor Bobet Lee Rodrigueza and Donsol Mayor Josephine Alcantara Cruz hosted a welcome dinner for MDI and the hobie challenge teams. Students from Donsol schools presented guests with entertaining dance performances showcasing the sights and pride of Sorsogon, such as the whalesharks (or “butanding”) that come to feed off Donsol during migration season. Sports enthusiast, celebrity host, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines’ ambassador Marc Nelson was on hand at the event to introduce and talk about WWF’s“Ayoko Ng Plastik” campaign, a key advocacy of MDI’s corporate social responsibility program.
This year’s MDI Hobie Challenge 19 was full of surprises. Despite the smaller fleet of 10 boats, a lot of position changes took place throughout the week. Among 3 Taiwan teams, veteran Alex Chen with Awang Lin finished best in 6th place. The other 2 Taiwan teams had strong early finishes but slipped down as the week wore on. Moving up the standings was the young duo of siblings Diego and Blanca Garcia who finished 4th overall and bested the Philippine and Taiwan teams.
But more surprising was the 1st place finish of Eddie Legarda and daughter Ines on Leg 5 which pushed them through to 5th place overall. The top 3 places were still controlled by the ‘internationals’– veteran hobie sailors who are now regulars at the PHC but as Tards points out the overall time differences are shrinking. Indeed only one minute separated Diego and Bianca Garcia from 3rd placers Bruce Tardrew and Eric Tomacruz after 5 full days of sailing.
In Donsol, PHINSAF’s Lita Legarda led a group of sailors together with executives from MDI and distributed school supplies, sports equipment, and medicines to administrators and students of Pampang Elementary School in Donsol, Sorsogon. Their donations were complemented by a water filtration system and more school supplies from the Philippine Inter-Island Sailing Federation (PHINSAF).
PHINSAF also donated a complete set of 150W solar panel to help the school with their computer and printer use, as Uni Ball Pen also donated ball pens to the school.