Sailing: Subic Bay, the Sailing Capital of The Philippines

Subic Bay is located conveniently in the heart of Luzon Island. As a former US naval base, it was a stronghold of the American military in Southeast Asia and the Far East. Since 1909, the superpower had invested billions of dollars in developing the site as a repair and supply depot. For almost nine decades US troops developed the area and preserved its wildlife. However, the American occupation of the area ended in 1992 after the Philippine government ratified the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992 that ordered American militia to immediately vacate the area.

Naval base turned tourist haven

Subic Bay’s strategic location vis-à-vis the key Philippine cities and other locations in East Asia as well as its accessibility to the country’s capital, Manila, make it a perfect economic hub. And where there is money, there are tourist spots.

The US Government did not just convert the bay into one of its formidable military bases on a whim. Aside from its strategic location, Americans foresaw the potential of the area for recreation. Decades after the US has pulled out its military forces from the area, Philippine authorities have realized the wisdom behind Uncle Sam’s choice of the place.

Subic, until now, is blessed with a stunning natural beauty that can draw tourists. Who would resist its lush tropical greens, breathtaking beaches and a hub for eco-tourism adventures and extreme sports? No wonder, ‘Subic’ is one of the most searched items for Philippine vacation destinations in 2015, according to Google PH. In fact, Royal Caribbean, one of the world’s leading global cruise vacation company, expressed its desire to make the area as part of its regular cruise itinerary for its bustling Asian market.

With kilometers of fine sand and still waters, the former naval base is also home to many breathtaking beaches. It is also a famous for divers and snorkelers as it is endowed with remarkable corals and rich underwater fauna as well as other historical remains of sunken ships and other wrecks.

Philippines Sailing Capital

Moreover, Subic is fast becoming a favorite sailing destination. Enthusiasts of this sport cited the area’s calm waters and stunning natural beauty as reasons for setting up SAGS Subic Sailing, an organization for sailors in the area. The group has organized events, which include various regattas and sailing programs with sailing classes and clinics for novice and even advanced sailors.

Subic Bay is perfect for sports or leisure sailing
Subic Bay is perfect for sports or leisure sailing..

Just this year, the group successfully organized major sailing events – Commodores’ Cup Regatta 2017 and Standard Insurance 8th Subic Bay to Boracay Race. Scores of aficionados brave the pristine waters of Subic for a race that are more of a leisure and fun activities in these gatherings of Philippine and foreign sailors.

In the Commodores’ Cup Regatta 2017, more than 11 professional sailboats, four of which have Filipino crew, and around 40 dinghies set sail for an event that they can reminisce in the coming years.

The event that took place in April was even featured in a television report. Princess Angara, a 9-year-old budding sailor, joined the event in her customized dinghy. Her solo sail caught the attention of the reporter.

Sailing at Subic
“If you sail, you’re happy. You’re acting as if you’re playing.” Angara said in the interview.

Great for team building

Aside from being a sport and hobby, sailing is also a great way to foster team building.

Marcus Avecilla, a member of SAGS Subic Sailing, discussed in the interview the importance of the crew working as a ‘smooth-sailing’ team.

“It’s not just one person controlling the whole boat. One person is driving, the others are trimming the sails and hiking out. We have different roles on the boat, which are very, very crucial, especially when it comes to racing.”

Avecilla also urged the government, sports enthusiasts and the public to promote sailing in the Philippines, especially so that it is a likely profit-generating industry by Filipinos who are naturally inclined to charter the seas.

Being an archipelago consisting of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is indeed a budding hotspot of sailing in Asia; and Subic, through SAGS Subic Sailing, is its capital.

13 teams vying in Subic to ‘Verde’ race

SUBIC BAY – Around 13 local and international sailing teams will take part in the 2nd Standard Insurance Subic Bay around Verde Island Passage Race (SBVIP) and the Subic Bay Cup Regatta slated Feb. 23 to March 2.

Fielding teams in the six-day sailing Grand Prix organized by Subic Sailing Team and held under the auspices of the Philippine Sailing Association the Asian Yachting Grand Prix are Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

Besides the grueling off-shore racing, there will also be a lot of in-shore racing that will happen in Subic Bay which is part of the Subic Bay Cup Regatta, according to Zed Avecilla, Executive Director of the Subic Sailing Club.

“One of the most exciting parts of the series is the Far East 28R One-Design Match Racing and Fleet Racing which will be part of the 30th SEA Games this November in Clark, Pampanga,” Avecilla said.

“This will be a practice race for our Filipino athletes who will be competing in the SEAG,” he added.

Centennial III, skippered by Judes Echauz, the co-recipient of the Executive of the Year award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association during its annual PSA Awards Night last year, is once again favored to rule the 200 nautical-mile SBVIP event.

Out to spoil Centennial III’s bid is last year’s inaugural race champion Geoff Hill’s Smith 72 Antipodes.

It won the event last year after clocking 22 hours, 54 minutes and 9 seconds, just two minutes ahead of Centennial. Ray Ordeveza’s Excel 53 Karakoa placed third.

Other Centennial III challengers include Albert Altura’s Hurricane Hunter, Mills 43 Custom Misty Mountain of George Hacket, veteran local campaigner Selma Star of Jun Avecilla, Germany’s Emocean I helmed by Michael Raueber, another local entry Sabad of Bobby Benares, and Karakoa.




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