The media briefing for the Standard Insurance Around Verde Island Passage Race was held in Dad's World Buffet in Padre Faura Street in Manila last February 20 where details of the race were presented to the attendees.
“Don’t ever say that this will not be an exciting race,” said Standard Insurance Group Chairman Judes Echauz. This year’s races were moved to Subic at the last minute after almost 10 years of staging in Boracay, the world-famous tropical island which is facing serious environmental issues.
We have been racing in Boracay for the past 10 years. And we are with President Duterte in this,” said Echauz amid the President’s threat to close down Boracay if the problems are not solved.
“Maybe there is no better time to focus on Boracay’s rehabilitation than now. While its true that the tourism industry will be unfortunately affected, in the long run, the tourists and local community will hopefully understand and eventually reap the benefits of an improved Boracay ecosystem,” said Zed Avecilla, Executive Director of Subic Sailing Club. “This year, we are encouraging our participants to sail to support the rehabilitation of Boracay and a call for the preservation and protection of our natural environment as we go through and around the Verde Island Passage.”
Verde Island is a strait that separates the island of Luzon and Mindoro, connecting the West Philippine Sea with the Tayabas Bay in Quezon Province and Sibuyan Sea in Romblon. The Verde Island Passage sits at the center of the Coral Triangle, also known as the “amazon of the seas.” The Verde Island Passage is extremely rich in marine biodiversity. It is in fact the riches area in the coral triangle. It is famous for its scientifically-backed title as the “Center of the center of marine biodiversity”.
Entries confirmed are Antipodes of Geoff Hill, Karakoa of Ray Ordoveza, Mandrake III of Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth, Sabad of Bobby Benares, Selma Star of June Avecilla, Misty Mountain of George Hackett, Bellatric of Jun Villanueva, Asia Pacific Sailing of Stephen Wu Shifu and Standard Insurance Centennial III of Echauz.
One of the guests that attended the event was Mr. Art Valdez, the person behind the building of the Balangay replicas. He has been working on the Balangay campaign to steer the maritime consciousness of the Filipinos for many years now.
The Balangay is the first wooden watercraft excavated in Southeast Asia. Estimated to be around 800 years old, the plank vessel may be centuries older than the ships used by European explorers in the 16th century when they first came upon the archipelago.
Almost 8 years ago, 40 adventurers led by Mr. Valdez sailed around the Philippines and Southeast Asia onboard three replicas of our ancient balangay boats, which is now considered as the National Boat. “Efforts like this should be supported because the Philippines is an archipelago. We are a maritime nation and sailing is in our DNA.” said Mr. Valdez “We are happy top see these kinds of activities. It shows that Filipinos are great seafarers.” The Balangay will be visiting Subic Bay on April 3-7 to join the celebration of another international yacht racing event, the Commodore’s Cup Regatta.