Tacloban City (February 7) — The 2008 Philippine Hobie Challenge, the country’s premier inter-island regatta on the Hobie 16, the world most popular catamaran design, will pass by Eastern Visayas on February 18–22, 2008, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 8 Director Karina Rosa Tiopes informed.

Director Tiopes said that the Challenge will start in Luzon and will pass through the Visayas and finish in Mindanao, hence been christened as “Luzviminda Challege.”

This year, the organizers, the Philippine Hobei Foundation, have chosen an exciting new route for the week-long premier sailing event that will showcase the multitude of beautiful islands in the Philippines, and Eastern Visayas will have a chance to showcase its beautiful islands too.

In Eastern Visayas, Director Tiopes disclosed, four docking areas have been identified. From Gubat, Sorsogon, the participants will pass through the Saint Bernardino Strait to the Sambawan Island at Maripipi, Biliran on February 18 which is the first leg of the race.

On the second day, January 19, the boats will be seen heading for San Juanico Straits, a narrow strip of water varying from 2 miles to a few hundred metres wide that divides Samar from Leyte and is cross by the San Juanico Strait bridge, just north of Tacloban, past Bilirian Island to a deserted beach on Bacsal Island, which is situated at the Northern end of the Strait in Daram, Samar.

On the 20th of February, the third day, sailing through the Straits will be tactically challenging as the sailors pick their way between the islands, rocks and reefs to find the best wind and tide. The day will end with a reach across the northern end of the Leyte Gulf to a beach resort among the limestone cliffs and deep clear waters of the Marabut Peninsular, the Marabut Rock Islets in Marabut, Samar.

On the fourth day, February 21, the boats will proceed East across the Leyte Gulf heading for the Pacific Ocean and the tiny island of Suluan, in Guiuan town, which is some 15 miles off the southern tip of Eastern Samar. Here on a beautiful golden sand spit of land jutting out into the ocean the sailors will be fed on freshly caught fish grilled to perfection by the accompanying chefs and provided by the local community.

the Challenge will proceed to the Marabut Rock Islets in Marabut, Samar and then to Suluan Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on the 21st of February.

On February 22, the fifth and last day of the inter-island phase of the Challenge, will have the competitors sailing 65 miles south down the Pacific Ocean swells and with a following wind, to the surfing paradise island of Siargao on the Northern tip of Mindanao, know for its Cloud 9 surfing waves.

About 16 competitors of nearly 100 sailors have already indicated their interest in entering from Thailand, the USA, Australia, Netherlands, France and the Northern Marianas Islands. Top local sailors mainly based at the Taal Lake Yacht Club and with the Philippine Sailing Association will also enter.

The organizing committee is once again working with the Department of Tourism in promoting the Philippines as a safe and interesting destination for tourists. The Department is sponsoring the production of a film of the Challenge to be shown on the cable networks. The film will also featuring the whale sharks of Sorgogon, the island paradise of Calicoan Island and the surfing capital of Siargao and all the beautiful islands in between.

In Eastern Visayas, the Challenge is supported by the Department of Tourism Region 8, the Philippine navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police 8, Department of Health 8, Philippine National Red Cross, Province of Samar, Province of Eastern Samar, Province of Biliran, and the Municipalities of Maripipi in Biliran, Daram and Marabut in Samar, and Guiuan in Eastern Samar. (PIA 8)

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