Karakoa triumphs at PGYC Easter Regatta


This year’s PGYC Easter Regatta in Puerto Galera featured the largest racing fleet in the Philippines in the pandemic era. By Martyn Willes.


PGYC, Easter Regatta, Philippines, Puerto Galera, Punta Fuego, Subic Bay, Karakoa, Ray Ordoveza, Bellatrix, Hurricane Hunter, Selma Star, Rags, Alan Burrell, Suzie Burrell, IRC, Cruiser Racers

Karakoa (second left) won the IRC racing class


This year’s PGYC Easter Regatta in Puerto Galera featured 14 yachts, the largest fleet of any regatta in the Philippines since the start of the Covid pandemic.


The country’s longest-running sailing event featured the likes of Karakoa, Bellatrix, Hurricane Hunter and Selma Star from Subic Bay and Punta Fuego in the IRC racing class. Furthermore, the participation of Philippine Sailing Association race-management staff gave a new dimension to the on-water race organisation for the IRC and Cruiser Racer divisions.


Due to Typhoon Malakas moving north and away from the Philippines’ east coast, the first-day breeze along the Verde Passage for the IRC and Cruiser Racing divisions was from the west instead of the usual easterly. The start and finish line for the IRC and Cruiser Racing divisions couldn’t be moved, so the racers were started westward, towards Talipanan Beach, for the windward-leeward races.


In the IRC division, fierce competition between Ray Ordoveza’s Karakoa and Bellatrix was evident, with the former intent on overcoming their defeat (by seconds) during the Punta Fuego Regatta in March. Selma Star, the actual star of the Punta Fuego regatta, was there to mix up the second and third places after Karakoa won both the windward-leeward races of the day.


Rags, designed by Bruce Farr in the 1970s, showed she still had the winning edge, outperforming the newer yachts in the Cruiser Racer division by virtue of the knowledge of Alan Burrell and the skills of Suzie Burrell.


Day two, with the traditional easterly breezes in evidence, was more of a stretch for the IRC and Cruiser Racer division yachts with a rounding of Verde Island and the avoidance of the rocky outcrop on the east end of the island.


The wind on the day favoured the back of the fleet and Karakoa was demoted to fourth due to poor preparation and some unnecessary rivalry with Bellatrix. Albert Altura’s Hurricane Hunter offered an entertaining spinnaker run to the finish but could only achieve third place after the ratings were applied.


The final day saw the IRC and Cruiser Racers heading for the eastern tip of Verde Island again but with a run down to Small Tabinay Beach before the finish. The wind and tidal flows favoured a direct run to Verde Island and Karakoa stretched her legs beyond all competitors and was about four minutes clear (corrected time) at the mark.


On the run to Small Tabinay, however, the wind lightened at the front and increased at the back, so the advantage was lost. A prayer to the weather gods changed everyone’s fortunes, with Karakoa being able to round Escarceo Point in a timely fashion while the remainder of the fleet was compelled to tack out towards Calapan.


The real entertainment, however, remained the final turn and the run along Long Beach to the finish off Haligi Beach, with Karakoa mastering the predictable gusts out of the Manila Channel and finishing with full spinnaker.


However, Hurricane Hunter and Emocean I both highlighted that they needed some crew training for handling an out-of-control spinnaker – at one point it looked as though Hurricane Hunter may T-bone the finish-line boat but instead, sensibly, opted for a very wet spinnaker. Rags and Selma Star showed that caution before the wind was more important than seconds gained in the final moments.


Overall, a fantastic three days of racing for the IRC and Cruiser Racers, with Karakoa and Rags establishing their dominance.