The epic journey “Sail to Pandan“ continues. Hey, we have a title to defend first!
Watch the video
Last minute preparations
See also the separate blog on preparations.
We had tested the electric Toqeedo outboard motor the day before the race and decided against using it, because the range is quite limited and the idea of having sail trouble between Puerto Galera and Verdi Island and running out of motor power was not a nice one. So Matty’s two cylinder Yamaha gasoline guzzler was the choice of the day, or in fact, for the race. The fuel tank was more than half empty so we had to fill her up. Martin and Miriam went out in the evening to find a gas station, which was a bit of an issue, the first Shell station was closed, the second “funny name” station open but out of gasoline, and only after driving all the way through town to the other end we found an open Petron station.
In the evening there was “Drinks and Meet” at the club, an opportunity to meet the other crews. Our girls crew arrived at 5:00 by passenger boat at Muelle pier, so having the complete crew assembled, we went to the club for the occasion and for dinner. It was a good evening except for one Aussie, who decided to harass our girls. They had to do the big escape by going for a smoke. Another member of that crew came later and apologised to Martin saying that that guy is very difficult to control.
Otherwise it was a great day which we ended at the a bit lonely restaurant of the Sandbar having some German beers.
Skippers briefing and preparations
During the skippers briefing at 9:00 we learned that we had a new handicap and that there were three more multi hulls in our class. One was a 60ft trimaran, a racer, even without an engine, owned by a Frenchman called Benoit. His starting time would be 2.5 hours after ours. The other was the well known Kerida, a boat that has a long record of winning races with a crew that was supposedly quite upset about us winning the Easter Regatta. The forth multi hull being Soniya, sort of a party boat with lots of young people on it and the Skipper Kareem, who is also very much involved in the kitesurfing scene in the Philippines.
The first day’s race would go to Verdi Island and back. Contrary to Easter, we were now one of three boats that had the earliest starting time at 10:30. Our crew for today would be Skipper Miriam, Shekie, Ina, Martin and Jean, who will have to go back to work tomorrow morning.
The girls went on Magayon II straight from the skippers briefing to get her ready, as good as they could without key, which Martin had left in the Resort. Mavic and Brigitte bought some supplies and brought it over with the club’s service boat.
On the pier Martin and Jean met Hans, who had come all the way from Manila to join another boat, and was thrown off in the last minute because supposedly the owner had decided to join himself. Not very sporty behaviour of that crew (no name mentioned here). We offered Hans a place on Magayon II for tomorrow and Sunday in case he would not find another boat to join because Jean could only join the first day.
We detached from the mooring around one hour before the race to give everybody the chance to get familiar with the boat. Miriam used the yacht timer on the iWatch to time the start and after some precisely executed tacks and gibes to avoid the other boats preparing for the race, we made it though the start line with around 10 seconds delay after Xiao Ling, followed closely by another monohull.
After running through Manila Channel we picked up some good wind along Long Beach. Xiao Ling had the first reef in the main, Martin had thought about it too, but we decided against it, a wise decision as it turned out, taking it out would have cost a lot of time. Then for tacking towards Verdi Island we choose to go very far out to minimise the number of tacks needed, since Magayon II is a really bad tacker. Two thirds of the boats did choose to stay much closer to the shore, probably with a reason – next time we need to study the tide tables.
The wave were much smaller than on Easter and there was a lot less spray and waves coming over the bows, we got wet, but not permanently drenched. We had great fun, Ina lost her first hat. However, slowly but surely we were overtaken by all the other boats of our class, Kerida and Soniya first and then later by the ultra fast trimaran. We were the last boat going around the buoy and so far behind that the speed advantage we have on a reach did not compensate for the lost time on the tacking course.
No win for us tonight. After the awarding we hopped in the car and went for dinner at El Galleon in Small Lalaguna, where we met a small IRRI crowd. El Galleon has a new menu, Martin’s favourite pepper steak had been dropped, but the offered to custom make one. It took ages for the food to arrive, the place has definitely seen better times all the way back to 1990 when we came the first time.
Today there were two courses, one for the racers around Verdi Island and then Chicken Feather and Bonito Island and one for the multi hulls and cruisers just around Chicken Feather and Bonito Islands and back. Choice of direction was the crews’. We expected to do better than yesterday since if we would go around Chicken Feather Island first and then run with the wind and avoid tacking upwinds behind the islands, we could actually be on Magayon II’s favourite courses most of the time. We did not consider the current. During the skippers briefing Peter had jokingly said “the current could go this way…” indicating on the map an East-Westerly direction, “.. or this way..” indicating the opposite. Shekie and Ina joined right after the skippers meeting and we made Magayon II ready for the race.
We started off very well, crossed the starting line within 30 seconds and then sailed downwind out of the Manila Channel together with two more boats.
Xiao Ling still had a reef in the main and we sped ahead. After passing Long Beach we got good wind and Magayon II was in her element and started running on a boom reach, leaving everybody behind. The other sails got very small quickly and we were in a very jolly mood. Once the other multi hulls came out of Manila Channel we were almost halfway across Batangas Channel already. Ina lost her second hat. We reached Chicken Feather Island within an hour and went running with the wind behind it. We could not see any motor boat and the other sailers were so far behind that we thought just just to make sure that nobody would say we cheated we took some pictures and videos documenting us going around the islands. We went all the way down around Bonito Island and a bit on our way back before the first racers and then Kerida met us, they still had to tack all the way upwinds to Chicken Feather Island before they could start turning back, so we were overjoyed with our progress.
The first boat to sail around Chicken Feather Island
The way back was much tougher than expected. The current drifted us westwards at high speed, and we had to go close hauled to point at the finish line, and it was clear that we would most likely still not make it. After around one third of the distance the first cruisers were coming around the Chicken Feather Island, and Soniya, having taken the same course as us, came around Bonito Island. It was very sad to see our advance shrink by the minute. After two thirds around half of the boats had caught up with us, but the two multi hulls reached us close to Long Beach. However, due to coming from Chicken Feather Island Kerida was very close to Long Beach and did not have to tack anymore before reaching the finish line. Soniya was further downwind and had to tack once, but she is much better close hauled than Magayon II, we had to tack twice and came through the finish line just with the large trimaran, who overtook us just before the line.
When we fastened Magayon II at the mooring, Kareem came across on an over-dimensional stand-up paddle board and invited us over to Soniya for BBQ. Being vegetarian our crew passed, but Miriam and Martin went over for a quick beer and a chat before preparing for the Halloween party. Since it was obvious that we could not win this time, our sympathy was clearly with Soniya.
Another reason why the girls did not join the BBQ on Soniya was that they had to dress up for the Halloween party, scheduled at the club for after the awarding ceremonies.
After the awarding, ceremony the Halloween party with life band and Peter as Elvis impersonator started. Everybody was in a very good mood and our girls started the dancing and heating up the mood, soon the dance floor was filled with 3 generations of sailors.
All the while the judges for the best Halloween dress were roaming around and the girls got some attention. They were asked to go down to the assembly area and to present themselves to the judges accumulated there, which they, being fashion models except for Miriam, did in their usual catwalk style. After some more dancing and drinks, everybody was called down again for the awarding of the best Halloween outfit. And yes, they did win the “Women” category, and got a nice bottle of Chardonnay.
It was a cool evening, as Peter said the PGYC throws the best regatta parties in the country. And I am absolutely positive that we brought the prettiest crew.
Today would be the shortest race since many of the crew need to go back to Manila in the afternoon. It was actually the same course as on the first day during the Easter Regatta, in which we had come in second in the multi hull class. Going around the light tower, turning South, pass the buoy close to Badladz beach resort starboard and back the same way. We had a slightly modified start time at 10:15.
Miriam graduated in practice after getting her skipper’s licence this summer by managing the sometimes stubborn outboard motor all by herself. We crossed the start line with 30 seconds delay and were on a good, fast course around Long Beach.
But then problems with tacking against the wind started again. All boats had passed us once we had reached the lighthouse. We also had some problems, one required to do a gibe loosing some time and then the starboard snap shackle of the jib broke and to stay reasonably on course Shekie and Ina had to hold the jib with the port sheet while Martin fixed the shackle. After this was done, the last boat in front of use, the Forever Young, the boat second last in front of us, had turned around and a look at the watch let to the conclusion that we would not be able to complete the race in time. We therefore decided to abort the race and changed course to a wide reach to go back to port. We did not cross the finish line to avoid people accusing us of trying to cheat. And Ina lost her third hat. But she won the bet with Miriam, who had said she would loose it within 2.5 hours.
Being frustrated with the turnout of the third day we forgot to give Mavic an SMS notice, so she only learned about us abandoning when the organisers removed the buoy, where she had waited on the beach to take some photos.
Happy Hour and Awarding
Happy hour started at 15:00 and the awarding followed soon since most crews needed to catch a bangka back to Batangas, to be in time for work tomorrow. We had booked one more night and drove the girls to Sabang, where they had indicated to the Soniya crew they might meet for some spontaneous party and drinks. Somehow this didn’t to work out, the Sonjya crew never answered the SMS message, and we all ended up at the Point Bar where Martin was melancholically reflecting on the “good old days” we had there with many batches of IRRI colleagues and friends, and the girls had to drink some shots to earn Martin a t-shirt with the old El Galleon logo on it, to further support his melancholy.
We will be back!
We had good fun so we were not much affected by not winning anything expect for the Halloween outfits.
But nevertheless we did an analysis of the races and identified some contributors to being so much behind this time after we were first on Easter. We’ll work on those and challenge the others, but especially Kerida, on Easter 2019.
- Handicap. We had a different handicap. We’ll try to understand that.
- Currents. This time the currents screwed us on Day 2. We need to take them into account. Martin will do some research on currents in Puerto Galera and how they may affect speed and how they can be used for our advantage.
- Sail trim. We did not pay enough attention to this. A look at the videos from Easter showed that we had the Gib much closer then. We might need to play around with the hauling point of the gib sheet. We also did not use the traveler for the main, which we should have done. We need to perfect our tacking technique and add shifting the traveller each time we tack taking advantage of the no-load when we go through the wind.
- Underwater boat. We had, not too serious but significant, growth of algae and sea pocks at the underwater boat. Some of the antifouling is gone already.
- Broken log. We had to determine the speed by looking at the waves and bubbles because the log was broken. Martin already ordered a new one and Kata will bring it on Christmas.
- Absence of the diversion officer. Angie, who did a good job distracting other crews from their work, did not join this time. We have to have her on board again on Easter:-)
We’ll work on these, and then scare the hell out of the other crews next year.