It was like riding the wind. A good way to de-stress.
Thus, a Filipino lady recreational windsurfer told me in between sips of her beverage and I was finishing my plate of spaghetti, roast chicken and calamares during one of the night parties of the 22nd Boracay International Funboard Cup.
I was invited by Nenette Graf as part of media to cover the Neil Pryde Boracay International Funboard Cup, having written about it in CNN Go last year. When I wrote about this international water sports event for CNN Go last year, I confess, I didn’t have an idea of what the funboard cup or windsurfing is about. This year, I was there, witnessing first hand the riders with their windsurfing or kite boarding gear doing stunts and jumps and splashes and racing across the shallow waters off Bulabog Beach in Boracay.
I was enthralled and wide eyed that this is one of the best things to do in Boracay at this time of the year with strong winds at 25 – 40 knots blowing because of the amihan, the northeast monsoon. So much better that I didn’t take a dip at White Beach but stood my ground at the windy platform at sea and having myself burnt under the sun. It was just great fun while also staying at the stately Boracay Beach Resort.
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But it can also be enjoyed all year round even when the habagat, the southwest monsoon, hits.
But what does it take to ride the wind? Does one have to be strung tight and strapped to a board and pulled by the oversized kite with kevlar strings? Or just let the wind blow on the sail when windsurfing? Of course not. One has to master how to handle and manoeuvre the gear. To fall and drink sea water. To fail but not be frustrated.
One can actually learn how. Green Yard Funboard Center offer courses that in no time, one can head to the waters and just have the time of one’s life enjoying the sea and the adrenaline surging. And, oh boy, what a rush! I can almost feel the heart pumping as the board just slide and skim off the water. Or knowing when to turn and jive to change directions. It’s like mastering taming the wind to go where one wants to head to.
What I do like about the whole stuff, especially with kiteboarding, which, they say is much easer to master than windsurfing, is learning how to jump. With the right wind, switch from eleven to one, pull and off you go. Simply said than done. But a whole lot exciting.
What makes Boracay a good venue for this in the country and in Asia is the constant howling wind creating just the ideal conditions that windsurfers and kiteboarders love. But it also depends on the tides. When it is low, expect the latter to be there first. When the tide starts to rise, the windsurfers make their appearance.
Couple this with the shallow waters off Bulabog Beach which is actually part of a reef and it can just be fun. For those wanting a good challenge and waves, the area beyond the reef is great. There were even kiteboarders far off at sea.
As night falls, parties can just be awesome, a good way to end the day. And the best thing? Windsurfers and kiteboarders are a fun lot to hang out with regardless of the nationality. There were Estonians, Swedes, Germans, Koreans, and those from Guam. There was even a Kazahk who is based in Moscow.
Never underestimate the ladies though. They can be as formidable and competitive as the men, aggressive and impressive too. Beautiful to look at with keen and drive.
For spectators, the long line of Bulabog’s beach strewn with algae is a good vantage point affording good views of the competition and those who are just enjoying the sea. Sea spray and sand can sometimes get into one’s eyes, shades is advisable, but sand can get into one’s hair.
But the best vantage point? One of a series of media and timer’s platforms at sea which is just awesome especially at the start when the horde of competitors come closer and closer, then in a few minutes, pass you by. Wow! But if you’re in these areas, be ready with your sunblock, hat, longsleeves and water.
What impressed me with this internationally recognized competition is the performance of the Filipinos. I’m proud to say that we do have a talent pool who can compete with the best in the world. It’s not only the men, but the women also gave a strong showing! Even Boracay homegrown talents, as young as 16 years old, one of the Gelito brothers, were there at the top three in several categories.
While we have a good standing in windsurfing and kiteboarding, Bingo Moreno is a silver medalist at the SEA Games, this is a rather expensive sport with the gear costing as much as $3,000 and more. And they all need our support.
Windsurfing and kite boarding in Boracay is really a good alternative than just going ATV, ziplining, zorbing or frolicking at White Beach. Unfortunately, less people know about this considering that it’s just a few minutes ride (or walk) to the other side, way past the bars and crowd.
The next time you go to Boracay? Head to Bulabog Beach and just learn to ride and master the wind.
For the complete results of the 22nd Boracay International Funboard Cup, check boracaywindsurfing.com.
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