Would we be able to defend the title?
Preparations and Meet and Greet evening in the club
We left home at 5:00 am. Heavy traffic before Batangas port with the line of cars at standstill and flowing back for kilometres. After around 30 minutes waiting with only 200 meters advance the mood got sour and Mavic called up Fantasy, they promised to send a private boat to Berberabe Port. There we met a desperate Spanish family who’s boat was cancelled due to Easter traffic jam once they had reached the port. We offered them a ride. Turned out that they know the Ochoa’s well and were involved in the Eurocampus too.
The boat dropped us at the Sandbar for check into our usual stay, the Sand Bar beach resort. A bit run down but convenient, and cold beers at the restaurant.
Then Magayon II needed some attention. After a late brunch in the Club we went over and rigged her up. Mavic and Miriam changed into their swimmers and removed the living ecosystem at the underwater ship, most of this was to our pleasant surprise already done by Meng, our boat boy. Two hours were sufficient to get the tropical storm tested boat race ready. A quick test of the motor, combining the fuel contents of both tanks into one to take the other one back, and charging the UHF radio, and all was set.
The Club. Good to be back. Lots of familiar faces, some new ones, and one we had not seen for years, Terry, good to catch up again. Trish told us about the competition, only three multi hulls this time, Sonija (Skipper Kareem), Zenity (Skipper Darius) and Magayon II (Skipper Miriam). She also introduced Sage, a young lady from Canada, who would be joining Irresistible with Peter the next day. She did get along well with Miriam and expressed interest to join Magayon II the second day. Regis, our crew no. 3, arrived in the late afternoon.
Today’s course is around Chicken Feather Island, then Bonito Island, and then back. If the current and the winds are good, we can run on our fasted courses. Last year, during the All Souls Regatta, it was a disaster thought because the current took us West and we ended up having to tack. So we started with mixed feelings. At least time today everybody had to take the same direction, and there was one less difficult choice to be made.
We were scheduled third and started a bit late, 1.5 minutes after our start time, but then the run towards Chicken Feather island was a repeat of last year. We overtook Aragon, and after fine tuning the sails around halfway we also overtook Irresistible and quickly pulled away from her, leading the pack and reaching Chicken Feather Island first. By then most of the other boats were out of Manila Channel and pursuing us we could see the two upright masts of the other multi hulls in the distance, but could also see that Sonyia was catching up slowly. When gibing West of Bonito Island Irresistible overtook us but they had to turn East to surround the two islands again since they were in the racing class. We had some problem sorting out the traveller, which caused an accidental tack and tacking back and cost us several minutes, but after that we were even faster, and still leading. To our joy we figured out that the wind was more favourable than last year and we probably would not have to tack to get back.
On the way a big commercial freighter was crossing the paths of the racers. There was a radio call on channel 68 with a voice with German accent “.. boat xx calling the freighter, do you know that we are racing?” The response was “This is a shipping line.” This turned out to become to running joke of the day.
We had another great, fast run with maximum speed on the GPS watch of 9 knots, and reached Long beach first, with Aragon in hot pursuit and Sonija closing in too, but still comfortably far away. The UHF radio said “.. Magayon II is going to be first with Aragon second and Sonija third..” which is exactly what happened.
We were overjoyed. After the fiasco of autumn last year, we were back, and as it turned out later, also leading the overall rating, with Aragon close second.
Video of Day 1
Today the course was going to Verdi Island and back, with the racers having to do a detour via Buoy 5 South of the light tower. Wind was a bit less than yesterday, waves were also moderate so the usual soaking of the crew in minute intervals did not happen this time. Having observed the other boats last time going quite fast on a course close to the shore we decided to try the same, assuming that the current working against us would be less close to the shore. It did work in some way, we reached the lighthouse with a few tacks only, but Sonija had taken a different course all the way out towards Batangas bay, and they had a really good run, even overtaking us before we reached Verdi Island. We did to have to do too much tacking and went around the buoy after Sonija and Aragon and were on a broad reach back towards Long Beach. A few boats with spinnaker overtook us on the way back. We came in second in the multi hull class.
When we entered the Puerto Galera lagune, there was Kareem on his foiled kitesurfer having a good time zooming across the lagoon. The awarding was followed by BBQ and the usual regatta party with life music. Peter was engaged in another party welcoming the Hong Kong to Puerto Galera racers and we did therefore not have life Elvis on stage this time, but the party was good fun anyway
Video of Day 2
Today would be an interesting race because there was no clear overall leader yet, and we assumed that if we would do things right, we might still have the chance to get one of the overall prices.
The short course chosen for today was around the light tower, then South to Buoy No. 5, and then back. During the 2018 All Souls Regatta we had to give up at the light tower due to poor sailing and a broken gib sheet shackle. This time we were much better, but some strategic mistakes led to Soniya being around the light tower ahead of us and on the broad reach course after that we could not catch up since we had roughly the same speed. Quite remarkable though for the small 26ft Wharram to be as fast as the much bigger Sonija. We also overtook one racer with two Aussies who had arrived the previous day and were only joining today, although they overtook us easily again on the way back.
We went around the buoy still very much in the first third of the bulk of boats, but then had to tack twice to avoid getting too close to the coast and made it back with only a few boats behind us. The third multihull, Zenity, which had technical problems the last two days, was way behind us at the light tower when we were close to Sabang already but then they raised their spinnaker and came closer quickly. But we managed to get around the point and along beach with still comfortable lead and finished second in the multi hull category.
The awarding happened right after we had cleared up the boat, we won second in the multi hull class today and second overall in the multi hull class too.
After a quick lunch sandwich and some chats with the other crews Mavic and Martin departed for the Sand Bar to shower and catch our 5:00 pm private bangka. Miriam decided to stay on, Kareem had invited her to a full moon party at the Italian restaurant beyond White Beach and Regis would leave the next morning anyway, so she could join him on the way back. She ended up attending mid nigh BBQ on Soniya and got a tour of the largest boat of the race.