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Love for sail
Source: Inquirer
Author: Rowena C. Burgos
Date: 2001-05-15
ONE of the newer spectator sports that can be enjoyed in many ports across the country is watching beautiful boats under full sail over the horizon. But why sit when you can be a part of it all?

At the Westin Philippine Plazaís park water sailing center, families can discover ways to have fun on the water. Liquid Experience (LQX) and the Philippine Sailing Association (PSA) will conduct sailing lessons for three weekends starting May 19, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The pleasures of boating used to be regarded as only for the affluent. The little seaworthy boat continues to grip the imagination, the vehicle for experiences one canít have ashore. But now, sailing is gaining in popularity.

Those who are passionate about the sport rather than the experience are buoyed by what only the sea can give them: its changes of mood and color, its fitful supervision by weather and wind, and its being still and balsamic, fierce and noisome at times but always engrossing.

"Sailing has a certain allure, especially for those who live a sporty lifestyle. You donít have to own a boat to experience it. During our workshop, participants will be provided with the boat and the gear," says Edmund Umali, president of LQX.

A naval architect, Umali founded LQX last year to promote sailing as a sport and help the industry survive the odds, beginning with the workshop. "There are no affordable small boats and no accessible place to many people. There are places to sail but these are only for club membersí use or within city limits. Itís good for any sailing club to have a venue within city limits. There are no active groups who organize activities, sailing classes or races. Thereís no one-design fleet in racing so instead of honing the sailorís skills, it becomes a contest of boats," notes Umali.

A proponent of small-boat sailing in the country, LQX is also into boatbuilding. Through the aid of PSA and Fiberglass Control Tanks, LQX has specialized in building the Streaker. "It has simple and non-imposing features yet it looks sleek. And itís the most affordable sailboat," Edmund explains.

Known in Europe as the forgiving laser, the Streaker is versatile and can accommodate a wide range of crew weight. This sporty single-hander can outrace most of its type and at the same time be very stable on the water. Its generous cockpit can carry a learning sailor at the helm and an instructor forward at the dagger board comfortably.

Fun and safe

While riding the Streaker, participants in Westinís sailing lessons can learn maneuvering, tacking, jibing, going upwind and downwind, drills on capsizing and riding the boat again and man-overboard drills wherein one is taught how to help anyone who falls on the water. Instructors on chase boats will help you get off to a smooth start on the water and make your riding experience fun and safe.

The Streaker that will be used is designed for one-person racing but it can accommodate three. During classes, two can ride on it together with one instructor or only one can go with an instructor. "Those who donít know how to swim can join but we advise them to learn the basics of swimming first. Theyíll be wearing life vests while on the water but, usually, those who donít know how to swim get panicky once they encounter problems," advises Edmund who started sailing in 1995. Last September, he was invited to be part of the race management team for the sailing event in the Sydney Olympics. In the recently held 11th Presidentís Cup, organized by the Manila Yacht Club, an international yachting event featuring 35-footer sailboats, LQX won first prize in racing/cruising.

"Filipinos have a great chance of winning in the Olympicsí sailing event. But one has to qualify first by campaigning or competing in sailing competitions around the globe. You donít have to win in all the regattas but you can earn qualifying points by mere participation. But in order to join the regattas, you need a budget. So, at present, weíre trying to make sailing commercially viable and attractive to sponsors and spectators."

Organizing tours on big sailboats that can accommodate eight persons is next on LQXís drawing board. "One of our dreams is to have a big fleet that can join competitions," says Edmund, whose love for sailing is akin to the sea --- fascinating, consoling, challenging.

Call LQX at 916-5446 or 0917-4158093.


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