Philippine sailors gear up for gold

By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star)

SUBIC BAY, Philippines — Philippine Sailing Association (PSA) president JudesEchauz expects nothing but the best from the Filipino sailors who will represent the country in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in November.

“We’ve been preparing them since December. They have been training here. We want them to be very familiar with the conditions,” said Echauz at the close of the Subic Bay International Regatta (SBIR) here.

Echauz is leaving nothing to chance even if it means digging deep into his own pocket. Close to 30 members of the national team are currently training in Subic, and the expenses are piling up each day.

But the top Filipino sailor said nothing comes cheap especially if you’re vying for the gold against the region’s top bets. “With every win, you also gain respect. That’s something we’re looking forward to,” said Echauz after yet another successful staging of the international event fully backed by Standard Insurance.

Nine gold medals will be contested in sailing in this year’s SEA Games. Familiarity with the waters of Subic should give the locals the advantage.

The Filipino sailors, led by Ridgely Balladares and Emerson Villena, train five days a week in Subic. They spend four hours out in the waters daily. Another hour is spent on strength and conditioning.

“They know what is required and that’s discipline in training,” said Echauz.

Antipodes of Richard Hudson won the overall combined title and all the bragging rights in this year’s SBIR followed by Karakoa of Ray Ordoveza and Misty Mountain of George Hacket.

In the Far East 28R fleet racing, the PSA 1 of Balladarez reigned supreme followed by PSA 2 of Villena and Subic Sailing of Mario Vidoeira-Hagedorn. In the IRC class, it was Karakoa on top followed by Antipodes and Misty Mountain.

“There are nine gold medals in sailing in the SEA Games. If we can win three, we will be happy. Then we can win medals of any color in the other events,” said Balladares.??“We have the advantage here. We’re getting used to the water current and the wind. There will be very little difference from now until December,” he added during Saturday evening’s awarding ceremony.