Newly acquired Standard Insurance Centennial V won the inaugural 650 nautical mile Hong Kong to Puerto Galera, Mindoro Yacht Race, setting the race record at 85 hours, 33 minutes and 56 seconds on Sunday.
The highly advanced racing yacht, a Rachel Pugh 75 redesigned by multi-awarded naval architect Kevin Dibley, was skippered by veteran sailor and Standard Insurance Group Chairman Ernesto Echauz, including two female sailors and members of the Philippine Sailing Team.
It was the first time in sailing history that a Philippine yacht won a line honor in ocean racing from Hong Kong to the Philippines, although the Centennial Sailing team has won several overall IRC championships in these races, including the Rolex China Sea Race and the San Fernando Race.
The four-day race started at the Kellett Island Clubhouse, located in Causeway Bay, with the field racing for a distance of 650 nautical miles to Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. This was the second longest Category 1 yacht race in Asia, after the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race.
The race is similar, yet with a more southern track, to the Rolex China Sea Race, which traditionally starts in the cooler climate of Hong Kong. After a bumpy first night, competitors are greeted by clear skies and a full moon as they head towards the Philippines.
Standard Insurance Centennial V was the only Philippine yacht that took part in the inaugural race among the other 14 international participants, including Fred Kinmonth’s and Nick Burns’ GTS 43 Mandrake III, winner of the 2018 Rolex China Sea Race.
The all-Filipino team included women laser sailors and FarEast28 team members Alaisa Belmonte and Paula Bombeo. SEA Games’ medalist Louie Perfectua prepared the yacht, together with Standard Insurance’s computer engineer Stephen Tan.
Aside from Perfectua, the other helms were former 470 SEA Games silver medalist and gold medalist in match racing Allan Balladares and current 470 SEA Games medalist Emerson Villena.
According to crew members, Rachel Pugh 75 is remarkable, easier to handle and sail and doesn’t need heavy muscle power because of its advanced technology, compared to Centennial III, a TP52.
“We are very happy about the new boat. It ran very well and it’s very fast. We had it refitted right before the race. We only had it ready the day before the start,” said Echauz, who added that the Standard Insurance Centennial V not only represents the Philippine national sailing athletes and the Philippine Navy but most of all, the Philippines.
“It gives pride to our Filipino seamen and OFWs that this top Philippine sailing yacht is crewed by an all-Filipino team, which wins in these ocean racing regattas,” he explained.
The next yacht to arrive to Puerto Galera was Geoffrey Hill’s Santa Cruz 72 Antipodes at 11h 46m 27s, almost 11 hours behind Centennial V.
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