In a country surrounded by water and made up of islands more than one can fathom, the Philippines is a perfect spot for people who love water sports.
Our country is famous for the beautiful beaches and various water forms very accessible to anyone in at any part of the islands. An hour drive from Manila can take you to Batangas, famous for its reefs and diving, an almost 2 hour flight can take you to the beautiful Islands of Boracay, where you can cliff dive and skimboard, and further south there is Siargao which perfect for the more adventurous surfers who are in search of the perfect wave.
And now, a new water sport is becoming known to some and is as peaceful as the sea, but not quite. As competitive as any sport, but not really. And as graceful as surfing, but totally different. I’m talking about Hobie cats sailing.
Hobie cats or Hobie catamaran 16, named after Hobie Alter who designed and is the founder of these catamarans, are
multi-hull boats that are powered by pure wind and skills by the sailors (crew and the helm) on it. In a country where jet skis and other motored water mobiles are well loved, a Hobie cat 16 is a nice change and a great alternative to the noisy water mobiles around. These catamarans can be considered as the descendants to the Philippine paraw, which played a great part in our history. It was believed that the first people who lived in our islands came from Borneo using a paraw.
I had the pleasure to witness an actual Sailing Regatta, where these hobie cats compete, last February 4 & 5 at the Anvaya Cove in Morong, Bataan. The Regatta organized by the Philippine Hobie Challenge Foundation welcomed foreign and local sailors to the two-day event. With Anvaya’s serene waters and perfect winds, the place is the desirable venue for this kind of sport. After a hefty breakfast ,the sailors were ready for the start of the four races to happen that saturday morning. Clad in body racing suits, the sailors were ready for a great time.
On a sailboat near the action was happening and on a yacht at the starting line, I had front row seats at one of the most interesting matches I have witnessed. It was my first time to watch a regatta so I was a bit clueless at the start but thankfully John-John Torres, an olympian himself and who served as part of the committee, was there to guide the first timers thru it. He gave a blow by blow account of what was happening right in front of our eyes and specifically explained what was happening. He told us how the wind can be seen thru wave curls, that the darker part of the ocean has stronger wind and how strategy and skill can make or break the competition.
As the countdown began, the adrenaline was palpable. Each of the hobie cats were sailing to the starting point to position themselves. From afar, it may look like they were sailing peacefully but every time we came too close to the cats we could hear the shouting and the energy.
Two hours in and everyone was baked from the sun and the waves are still as powerful as the sailors. And just like in any competition, after all the swearing and the intensity, true sportsmanship among the sailors came through as soon as they ended their voyage and stepped out of their catamarans. Everyone had a great lunch seaside and the sailors wre all chummy as they shared their stories.
With the colorful hobie catamarans at shore, I understood the fascination the participating sailors had for these pretty, colorful boats. It is a peaceful sport which only needs the wind and the skill of the sailors on board. With our country as an archipelago, the catamaran is one of the perfect ways to discover distant, inhabited islands just like how the people before us discovered parts of our country. And these participating sailors are doing just that.
In it’s 12th year, the Philippine Hobie Challenge will gather the best sailors in the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Portugal, USA, Fiji and Taiwan. The week long challenge will start on March 10 to March 16. This year, the Philippine Hobie Challenge will take place at the beautiful islands of Palawan. From Coron to Malcapuya beach, to Manligad Island and Pangaraycayan, and to El Nido, this challenge will definitely be one for the books. If you wish to join and learn more about them, you may check out their website: www.hobiechallenge.ph
And if you wish to sail on a hobie catamaran, the taal yacht club is offering just that. You may call them at:
With a sport that explores the natural beauty of our country and the intensity of filipino sportsmen, hobie cat sailing should be one of the sports the people should look out for. We should make it a goal to promote the sport of sailing and let’s help the Philippine Hobie Challenge Foundation establish the Philippines on the map for this kind of sport, not only in Asia but around the world.