Now on its 39th year, the Iloilo Paraw Regatta is the oldest traditional craft event in Asia, and the largest sailing event in the Philippines. The Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation currently organizes the activities, with leading support from the Iloilo City and Provincial Governments and the Department of Tourism, along with private sector donations.
Activities have been expanded to spread over a week. On the Saturday of the climactic weekend there is slalom racing on a course by the beach to facilitate crowd participation. On the Sunday, the thirty-kilometer distance race is sailed on a course in the Iloilo Strait, running up the coast of Panay and then down the coast of Guimaras, before returning to the finish at Villa Beach. Participant exposure to the events is in the tens of thousands.
The geophysical shape of the Iloilo Strait provides year round breezes. Thus the working sailboat still predominates. In these times of high fuel costs, and polluting oil spills, one can appreciate the simple ecology of the traditional paraw. Nevertheless, the skills needed to sail are far more complex.
The objective of the Regatta is to celebrate the skills of the paraw sailors, and bring a fiesta spirit into their lives. And with the colorful painted sails, this spirit is brought into the lives of participants and tourists as well.
A PERSPECTIVE OF THE PARAW
The principal attraction of Iloilo Paraw Regatta are the double outrigger boats called “paraw”. This native sailboat has been in existence for no one knows how long. But the fact remains that the people of the Iloilo Strait are still to this day using the paraw as a means of transportation as well a source of livelihood. With a fresh breeze, and an Ilonggo at the helm, the paraw is a strikingly fast boat, making 20 to 30 kph through the waves. Indeed, the paraw was the inspiring prototype from which the Westerners have developed what they call the trimaran, the fastest sailboats now on the planet.
Paraws are fitted with outrigger floats of bamboo to stabilize the boat and prevent the slim main hull from tipping over. The outriggers curve upward toward the bow to refine their impact on the waves, and most importantly serve as platforms on which the crew can stand to use their weight to create further stability against the tipping force of the wind in the sails. For maximum speed, the outrigger will not be submerged, but just kiss the surface of the water.
Built up from a carved keelson with plywood planking for the sides, the hull is pointed at both the front and back ends, with the rudder hung off the side astern. The key feature of the hull is its slim shape, with a length to beam ratio of 20 to 1. Such proportions create a knife-like effect to cut through the water, freeing the boat from displacement constraints. Also, sideways drift, or leeway, is largely eliminated. For racing purposes, the boats are divided into classes on the basis of waterline length.
Originally made from woven matting, sails nowadays are stitched up from synthetic awning materials. The small forward sail, or blade jib, feeds the wind into the powerful, low-aspect driving mainsail, the boom of which extends several feet beyong the boat’s hull. In ideal conditions, the paraw can sail close to the speed of the wind. For racing, no limits are imposed on the size of the sails.
Text source: iloiloparawregatta.com
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