Sailing in the Philippines is an enigmatic sport – there are 7100+ islands to visit, crystal clear waters to sail across and superb sailing breezes year-round somewhere around the country, but only 13 yacht clubs or marinas. This is an enigma because historically, sailing (native boats: paraws) was the only way to get people and products from island to island, and therefore there should be a surfeit of experience and interest in, and enthusiasm for, the sport of sailing in the Philippines.
Perhaps the main challenge is that sailing in the Philippines is perceived to be an elitist sport (which it can be) and therefore outside the budget of most Filipinos. However, in the context of the Philippines, this is actually a falsehood because: the dearth of active sailors means that there are always many crew places available on many yachts, which the owners will (most times) offer for free and (sometimes) even pay you for. All you really have to do is to want to go sailing in the Philippines and the opportunities are endless.
Learning to sail is relatively easy in the Philippines. Sailing courses are offered in: Manila, Taal Lake, Puerto Galera, Subic Bay, Romblon, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa and El Nido. In Manila, you can learn to sail with the Philippine Sailing Association, located adjacent to the Cultural Center Of The Philippines ("CCP"). The great thing about choosing to learn to sail in the Philippines is that you can do it somewhere at any time of the year.
Sailing courses, offering a formal curriculum, start at around US$50 per day; it may take a full week to learn what you need to learn, to effectively harness the wind and enjoy safe sailing. Most places offering sailing courses in the Philippines will tailor-fit the course into a busy schedule: one day at a time if you like.
All yacht clubs and sailing, except for (Manila Yacht Club, Subic Bay Yacht Club and Cebu Yacht Club), offer sailing courses in dinghies. If you are looking for sailing courses in larger, keelboats, then you will find this in Puerto Galera, Subic Bay (at the sailing club, not the yacht club) and El Nido.
Philippine sailing weather has two distinct seasons: the amihan (northeast monsoon – October to May); and, the habagat (southwest monsoon – June to September). During the amihan, the northeast monsoon winds are generated by high pressure systems over China and Siberia, these deliver steady, moderate sailing breezes that are a little cooler (especially at night). During the habagat, the southwest monsoon sailing breezes can be moderate to strong and frequently bring some warm rain (especially in the late afternoons).
Tropical storms may occur at any time of year in the Philippines, but mostly affect only the northern half of the country. Fortunately, with 21st century weather forecasting and satellite imagery, tropical storms are monitored and warnings given, well in advance of the effects being felt. If a tropical storm does enter the Philippine area, its effects will typically pass within a couple of days.
If you enjoy sailing at a cruising pace then almost everywhere South of Subic Bay can be your best Philippine sailing location. Highly recommended areas for cruising yachts are: MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), the Central and West Visayan regions, and the islands and coast to the North of Mindanao. The Davao Gulf is also a good sailing location for cruising yachts and many yachts, arriving in the Philippines from Australia, take advantage of Davao's yacht facilities. The East coast of the Philippines has few facilities for sailing because there are very few places to shelter a yacht if a storm is forecast.
If you prefer yacht racing then the best places for sailing are: Subic Bay, Puerto Galera and Boracay. Yacht races and sailing regattas are held regularly in these locations. Taal Lake is also a great place for competitive sailing in small boats, especially during the amihan season; Taal Lake is the home of the Philippine Hobie 16 fleet.
The largest competitive sailing event for yachts in the Philippines is the All Souls Regatta (at Halloween), in Puerto Galera. The largest small boat sailing event is the Round The Volcano Race (November), in Taal Lake. The sailing event that attracts the most expensive yachts is the Boracay Cup Regatta (February), around Boracay's islands. The largest sailing event for native sailing boats (paraws) is the Iloilo Paraw Regatta (February), off Iloilo City.
Yacht chandler outlets can be found in Subic Bay, Manila, Boracay, Cebu and Samal (Davao); the yacht chandlers in these locations offer international brand, product ranges for sailing yachts. For engine and hydraulic parts and spares then Manila, Cebu and Davao are the best places to find OEM equipment suppliers. For non-branded sailing equipment or for fabrication of replacement parts then most towns with large fish ports are usually appropriate.
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