This year’s Punta Fuego to Busuanga Race made us appreciate more the pristine islands of Busuanga as we found ourselves slowly crawling the last 30 nautical miles to the finish mark located along South Kay Island at a finish time of 7:46PM (Total sailing time 1 day and 12 hours, Total Distance 140.1 Nautical Miles). It was a beautiful sight to behold as the sun sets over the horizon. However, the celebration was shortlived as we were about to enter the pearl farm minefields in the dark.
A day before the start of the inaugural Busuanga Cup, the Europa Yacht Subic Sailing Team (Beneteau First 36.7) set sail to Nasugbu, Batangas not only to defend its back-to-back title but also to honor one of the icons of Philippine Sailing, a former commodore of the Manila Yacht Club and one of the founders of the Philippine Sailing Association (PSA), Mr. Doni Altura. The additional island race was called the Doni Altura Memorial Race and has made this event a 2-day race.
The trip to Punta Fuego was very pleasant, the wind pressure was very satisfactory. However, the wind forecast of the offshore race the following day was not as delightful. According to Windy App, there will be very light winds early the following morning followed by a massive hole as you approach the island of Busuanga until pretty much the entire day.
The team left Punta Fuego with a start time of 7:23am. The planned route was to go through Golo Passage and just before approaching Fortune Island the wind died down with less than an hour into the race. From then it took us another 8 hours to cross the Golo Passage (Running distance of 34nm). Jun Villanueva skipper of Belatrix (Ice 52), who started behind us, saw the light wind conditions along our trail to Golo Passage and decided to avoid the situation by heading 30 degrees higher than us heading to Cabra Island which was almost 20 nautical miles farther than us but eventually they got more wind pressure and managed to set a record of 21 hours and 18 minutes finishing at 4:18am. Other IRC boats, Albert Altura, skipper of Hurricane Hunter (Beneteau First 40) and Pablum Lobregat, skipper of +Ultra (Beneteau First 30), followed Bellatrix to Cabra Island. However, just like us, everyone got stuck in the hole and was crawling to the finish line until late in the evening. The official results for the IRC offshore race are for 1st place Bellatrix, 2nd place Europa Yacht Subic Sailing, and 3rd +Ultra.
We were given a warm welcome by the rest of the fleet who joined the race under the Multihull Class and Cruising Class as well as the team of Bellatrix who was the only IRC Class finisher by the time we have arrived during the welcome party hosted by Marina Del Sol. After a sumptuous feast prepared by our host resort, most of the members of the team decided to call it a night to recharge for the next island race the following day.
The start of the island race was 4 nautical miles away from the mooring area of the host resorts, Busuanga Bay Lodge and Marina Del Sol. Race director, Jerry Rollin, decided to delay the start due to the light wind conditions. Speaking of delay, when the wind was enough to start the race, our team was actually late in the starting line by almost a minute from the rest of the fleet. It was a bad start which almost cost us the race.
The course for the island race of the IRC class was to pass East Nalaut Island and West Nalaut Island to port before finishing south of Maltatayoc Island. Fortunately, despite the late start, we managed to catch up with the rest of the remaining IRC fleet, Belatrix and Hurricane Hunter (+Ultra did not join the last race). Simon Pickering, Skipper of Venetta (Marten 49), decided to join the fun with the IRC fleet and to sail the same course. Bellatrix managed to regain the lead on the last leg while the wind pressure slowly disappeared leaving us in agony. Hurricane Hunter with skipper Albert Altura from behind managed to catch up with us carrying with them some breeze that pushed us to the finish and steal the winning title from Bellatrix, the overall for the Busuanga Cup. What an exciting ending for the inaugural race!
The final awards night was held at the elegant poolside area of the Busuanga Bay Lodge. During the opening program, Monchu Garcia, head of the Organizing Committee, told the story of how this event grew from 3 boats 4 years ago to now more than a dozen yachts participating. “I would like to give a special mention to Jun Avecilla who gave us a lot of ideas on how to take this event to the next level,” Monchy added before ended his welcome remarks. Albert Altura, son of Doni and skipper of Hurricane Hunter, was the one who handed out the awards to all the winners. “I am really grateful for everyone who joined and supported this event in honor of my father. I am sure that he is happy up there in heaven to see everyone who joined this event,” said Albert Altura.
Congratulations to all the participants and the organizers of this event. We look forward to joining again next year! For more information about the Busuanga Cup please visit www.phinsaf.com