In an event dominated by unexpected and changing wind conditions Captain Napoleon, sailing two-handed, mastered the conditions to win the Cruising Class with an elapsed time of 32 hours, 16 minutes and 13 seconds.
The 3rd Punta Fuego to Busuanga Race attracted its largest fleet so far with 17 sailing yachts and 2 motor yachts representing various yacht clubs in the country namely, PFYC, MYC, PGYC, and SBYC, for the 135 nautical mile race. This unique race allows boats to choose their own start time to benefit from their navigators ‘best estimate’ of the wind conditions. The start Line was opened at 0600 on Friday morning and by 0945 all boats had started. An additional benefit of the variable start time is for boats to all arrive at approximately the same time for a beach lunch on the beautiful South Cay Island managed by the Busuanga Bay Lodge Resort. As usual BBL provided a sumptuous meal and ‘cooool’ drinks.
At the Welcome Dinner hosted by Club Punta Fuego in the newly renovated San Diego restaurant, the participants received an important briefing from the principal race officer – Jerry Rollin. Strategies and past experiences were discussed in a lively and friendly atmosphere during the fellowship. Early the next morning David Wheeler’s Freewheeler, a competitively raced Cape Carib 33, was first boat across the start line. As the remainder of the fleet started over the next few hours the Wind Gods decided to play tricks with shifting wind conditions. The early starters benefitted from a nice 6 knot North Easterly rising to 15 knots as they crossed the Calavite Passage and fading again as they entered the wind shadow of Mindoro Island. The Calavite passage is renowned for merciless winds and steep waves which many sailors dread.
The late starters struggled to reach Calavite and crossed the passage in abnormally light wind conditions. As the sun set the wind slowly picked up from the north providing a steady breeze for those that charted a more westerly course and by midnight the shifting “Nortada” allowed boats to make good progress southwards towards Calauit island (famous for the African animals).
The race committee boat Lost in Asia, owned by Peter Baird of Broadwater Marine, provided Race Officer Jerry Rollin with a stable platform for the start, transportation to the finish and safety cover. By 0630 on Saturday the Finishing Line was established at South Cay for the first arrival – the early bird Freewheeler, who finished at 0740 closely followed 10 minutes later by Columbus owned by John Quirk and hailing from the Puerto Galera Yacht Club.
The early finishing times were made possible for the Cruising Class who can take the option to transfer to the Cruising / Motoring class if the want to. Their motoring times are multiplied by 1.5 to achieve an expanded total elapsed time. This gives the slower cruising boats a chance of joining the beach party on South Key.
This year the Ocean Multihull Class increased to 8 boats of which 7 were Lagoons varying from 42 to 62 feet. However, the sole Leopard 40 Cariño of Monchu Garcia triumphed winning the class with an elapsed time of 34hrs 27mins 31secs. It must be said that most of the Lagoons retired to the rallye fleet, perhaps in haste to join the beach party! Strategy and perseverance are the essential elements in any long-distance race such as this, and these were certainly the qualities shown by Selma Star’s crew, lead by Jun Avecilla, to win the elite IRC Class for the second year in a row. Besting other elite racers Sabad (Bobby Benares), Bellatrix (Jun Villanueva), Isabelle (Tere Marcial) and Hurricane Hunter (Albert Alba).
By late Saturday afternoon it was time to tear ourselves away from the pristine beach of South Cay and make our way through the lines of pearl farms for the short cruise to Puerto Del Sol bay for the Awards Party hosted by Busuanga Bay Lodge. As usual there were many stories on the wind shifts, numerous dolphins sightings, and even a humpback whale sightings to spice up the sailing stories.
The event was sponsored by Club Punta Fuego, hosted by GM Edgar Krohn and Busuaga Bay Lodge, hosted by GM Thomas Mayer; and supported by Braodwater Marine, Marina Del Sol Resort & Yacht Club, Anya Resort, Acea Subic Bay, Dusit Thani Hotel, and Air Juan.