9th Philippine Hobie Challenge kicks off in Gubat town
by Mharr Loterte
GUBAT, Sorsogon (11 February) -- This coastal town, also Sorsogon province's second time in three years, will host the unveiling of the 9th Philippine Hobie Challenge on February 16 in Rizal Beach here.
Gubat mayor Deogracias Ramos, Jr. said town officials and residents are working together to spruce up preparations as it opens an opportunity to showcase the town's bests in time for the extreme sailing competition that will draw competitors from the different parts of the world.
"Not only the participants we are preparing for, but also for both local and foreign water sports enthusiasts and tourists that will flock to our town during the duration of the 9th Philippine Hobie Challenge", he announced.
The Philippine Hobie Challenge Foundation (PHCF), the organizer of the activity, bared this year's competition will only be limited to 20 teams as it is truly an extreme sailing event with sailors having to contend with strong currents and tides, ocean swells and strong winds.
The Race Management and Safety Team, according to PHCF chairman Mark Andrew Haswell, will have to keep track of all competitors in these conditions which will probably involve sailing at night.
The Philippine Hobie Challenge is the country's premiere extreme sailing event, staged each year with different route to challenge competitors and show them the beautiful islands and coastlines in the country.
This year's route passes through the islands of Visayas and finishes in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte in Mindanao.
On February 16, PHCF will conduct the safety inspections followed by a compulsory competitors briefing on race control and a welcome party along the white beach of Rizal in the evening.
On the next day in the same venue, the practice race will be held around 11:00 AM and Inshore Series Races 1 and 2 (back to back) will take place at 2:00 PM.
Other leg of the race are Gubat to Sambuyan Island on February 18; Sambuyan Island to Bacsal Island, February 19; Bacsal Island to Marabut, February 20; Marabut to Suluan Island, February 21; Suluan Island to "Patricks on the Beach" in Siargao Island, Surigao, February 22.
The Inshore Series Races 3, 4 and 5 (back to back) will be held in the morning of February 23 in Siargao Island. Grand Awarding Ceremonies and Entertainments, sponsored by the Department of Tourism, will follow at night time to conclude the 7-day competition.
The competitors will sail over 258 nautical miles - 488 kilometers – in a 5 daily passage race along the route selected by PHCF, running through pristine blue waters and coral fringed seas and taking them from island to island for overnight camping. The 9th Philippine Hobie Challenge, dubbed the "LuzViMinda Challenge", is considered the longest since the competition started in 1999.
Expected competitors will be coming from USA, Australia, Germany, Italy, Thailand, Hongkong, Papua New Guinea, Northern Islands and Philippines, among others.
Meanwhile, Department of Tourism (DOT) Bicol regional director Maria Ravanilla stated this further proves the country's place in the forefront of extreme water sports by hosting the 9th Philippine Hobie Challenge.
"This has been the third time Bicol hosts the kick off of the annual Philippine Hobie Challenge: Donsol, Sorsogon in 2006, Partido, Camarines Sur in 2007, and Gubat will host this year," she revealed. (PIA Sorsogon) [top]