Oz Goose National Championships in Legazpi City. – JOHN GOCHENOUER

Bicol is synonymous to its tourist icons—the perfect-cone Mayon Volcano, the butanding whaleshark, powdery white sand beaches, not to mention its mouth-watering cuisine.

With its rich bodies of water, mountainous contour, natural wonders, and outdoor recreation, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has branded the region as an exciting and consummate destination.

This enticing getaway has become more exciting with the introduction of an adventure sport which has been in the sidelights for quite some time—sailing.

The vast Albay Gulf, which embraces the seaboard of Albay, became a huge watersport playground with the Exciting Bicol Oz Goose National Championships held recently at the Legazpi City Boulevard.

The two-day sailfest is organized by the Philippine Home Boatbuilders Yacht Club (PHBYC) and the Albay Yacht Club (AYC), with the support of DOT Region 5 and the Legazpi City local government unit (LGU).

Oz Goose National Championships organizers and supporters (from left) Proxy by The Oriental general manager Edel Antonio, AYC commodore Gregorio Fernand Imperial, DOT Bicol regional director Herbie Aguas, Legazpi City tourism officer Cristina Agapita Pacres, and Toyota Albay marketing professional Nica Marilag.

“Bicol has been gaining in popularity with watersports enthusiasts, wakeboarders, surfers, paddlers, scuba divers and now, sailors. Its natural beauty is its main appeal, and the people’s warm hospitality in embracing watersports enhances its natural charm,” says DOT regional director Herbie Aguas.

He noted that the sailing event is a part of the DOT’s Exciting Restart program which is a reboot of the region’s tourism industry which was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A sports enthusiast, Aguas said that the tournament kindled community interest in the sport and prompted the search for other potential sailing spots in the nearby provinces.

The Oz Goose is a 12-foot long wind-powered sailboat with a 14-foot mast, and crewed by two persons. It is cheap and easy to assemble, and is ideal for women, youth, children and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Introduced in the Philippines in 2015, there are about 100 Oz Goose boats locally, with 12 of them at the AYC.

Oz Goose National Championships. – JOHN GOCHENOUER

Oz Goose sailing started in 2021 and has gained popularity among youths in Legazpi’s coastal villages, largely through the efforts of city councilor Fernand Imperial, who is also the commodore of the AYC.

According to Imperial, the club aims to expand the number of the sailing community through the conduct of boat-building activities with the support of government agencies, tourism establishments, private entities, and individual enthusiasts.

Meanwhile, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said that with Albay Gulf’s challenging winds and the breathtaking view of Mayon Volcano, sailing will be an additional exciting activity in the City of Fun and Adventure.

Now on its fourth edition, the National Championships is the first to be held outside its homebase at the Taal Lake Yacht Club, with over 100 sailors taking part and was met by the warm crowd reception.

Proxy by The Oriental

The two-day competition was topped by the tandem of Fernan Sarmiento and Miguel Jose Magsaysay of Subic Sailing which bested 33 other teams.

The tandems of Nicko Boyano and Sorlano Boyano, and Zoren Boyano and Rhenalyn Boyano, all members of the Philippine Sailing Association (PSA) captured the second and third honors.

Other winners were twins Jonalyn and Jonabel Parocha, also of the PSA, who emerged first place in the women’s category, while Cherrie Pinpin and Joshua Barcelon topped the Sailability division for PWDs.

Completing the winners circle is Jazmine Lucero who had the best finish in the B-Fleet.

The Exciting Bicol Oz Goose Nationals is also supported by Kress Philippines, Toyota Albay, Hyde Sails Cebu, Imperial Homes, Pacific Blue Dive Center; hotel partners Proxy by The Oriental, Legazpi Oceanfront Hostel, and Hotel Sentro, and RRCG Transport as official carrier.