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PGYC Easter Regatta Race Results + Analysis

Image courtesy: Girlie Cervantes

The 2017 Puerto Galera Yacht Club (“PGYC”) Easter Regatta was the 26th in the series and is now the longest running yachting event in the Philippines. Twenty one yachts joined in the sailing fun, along courses set across the Verde Island Passage. The weather gods blessed the event with three gloriously sunny days, serving up 10-20 knot breezes from a generally easterly direction.

A feature of this year’s event was the friendly rivalry between four of the five multihulls. Two of the cruising catamarans are Puerto Galera resident, two came from Subic Bay and one was visiting from Hong Kong. There was supposed to be a second entry from Hong Kong but for whatever reason it did not make the starting line on Good Friday.

In the racing class the sprightly 29-foot Redshift returned to Puerto Galera from Subic Bay (she was here for the first time during last year’s All Souls Regatta) and joined the fray with residents yachts – one chartered by the Aberdeen Boat Club – and one more from Subic.

The cruising class was predictably a mixture of globe-trotting, cruising yachts and residents. The smallest being a 26-foot folkboat and the largest being a 60-foot Van Dam ketch.

If there was another feature of this year’s PGYC Easter Regatta it was the very visible lack of coherent handicapping, combined with a peculiar choice of courses.

The Royal Yachting Association (“RYA”) has for (at least) two decades published very simple-to-follow guidelines for managing performance handicapping for all classes of yacht. During discussions overheard post-race at the yacht club bar on the first day, the RYA guidelines were put forward to resolve at least one of the handicapping issues on the table – regarding one of the resident catamarans. Unfortunately, those guidelines were ultimately ignored and a touch of favoritism was suspected when the catamaran in question ended the regatta first in class by a wide margin, much to the disappointment of other participating catamarans.

Similar handicapping incidents were apparent in cruising class where at least one yacht was victimized, apparently for having an inexperienced crew, while another was massively assisted, for being too slow on the first day. Racing class fared no better.

Inconsistent handicapping will kill the spirit of racing just as fast as inappropriate rating systems. Just take a look at the Commodores’ Cup Regatta in Subic Bay the following week: only nine entries! Let us all hope that someone in authority at the PGYC takes action to prevent a recurrence of this year’s inconsistencies and adopts a more transparent handicapping system, based on recognized guidelines, before the All Souls Regatta in November.

As for the daily courses, the organization was no better. The first race in a three-day Puerto Galera regatta has almost always been the same course for the past decade and more – out to Chicken Feather Island, down to Bonito Island and back to the Haligi Beach finish (twice around the two islands for the racing class). As it has been explained: the purpose of using the same course on the first day is to determine whether new handicaps provided to yachts may need to have a minor adjustments – the logic being that any new handicap can be compared against a wide selection of competing yachts for which the handicapper has a long history on that specific course.

This year the course on the first day was an unusually short course to a new mark. In other words there was no real way to offer a realistic comparison of new handicaps to yachts with a long history.

The second day course was the course normally sailed on the first day. The third day course was, unexpectedly, the reverse course of the second day course. The stated reason for the reversal was the lack of a person to organize the laying of a mark . . . “because it was Easter Sunday”.

Finally, the race results showed a lack of knowledge of the Racing Rules of Sailing (“RRS”) despite that the RRS were noted in the Notice Of Race as governing the regatta event. In particular, in the Racing Class, two yachts finished with equal points and the published results show both as sharing first place. The RRS Appendix A 8.2 is quite specific in this case: “If a tie remains between two or more boats, they shall be ranked in order of their scores in the last race.”

Passing over these errors and inconsistencies however, the PGYC Easter Regatta matched its billing as: ‘the most fun you can have on the water at Easter in the Philippines’.


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