Unfit kayak forces Davao paddler to quit
Arnel Gabutero is one paddler who knows when to attack and when to retreat.
On Monday, the 36-year old Davawenyo took the hard decision of foregoing his date with immortality and vowed his paddle can wait another journey.
“Mahirap tanggapin Neil pero hanggang dito na lang yata ang kakayanin ng kayak ko. Kakausapin ko ang team mamaya,” the 36-year old Gabutero told this writer shortly after the press conference welcoming the RP-Singapore Friendship Kayak Expedition team in their first major stop of the 100-day journey across Philippine waters.
The three-man team is composed of Gabutero, world-renowned adventurer Swee Chow Khoo of Singapore, Buzzy Budlong of Cebu which set sail eight days ago in Gumasa in Glan, South Cotabato. They are poised to cover 3,300 kilometers on kayak, the first ever in that distance in the world.
“Tutuloy pa rin sila, ako lang ang mawawala,” Arnel disclosed, obviously disappointed not being able to find a sponsor for a touring standard kayak. He used a green-painted slim fiberglass racing standard kayak more suitable for flat water.
“Hindi talaga pang touring. Di kakayanin ang high waters. Made-delay lang ang team. I have to make the sacrifice,” he said as his wife Beth consoled him.
His teammates accepted his decision and wished him luck in the future. “We are proud of him. It was a great sacrifice on his part.”
Compared to Arnel, his teammates were far better equipped. The Singapore-based Swee, aside from having accomplished the Summit Grand Slam composed of the world’s top seven peaks inside one year, submerged himself in a water tank for 9 days in a Singapore mall and skated for 94 days, uses a kevlar touring kayak complete with navigational gear.
Buzzy also has the same touring kayak whch he named Alcyone, hs daughter’s name from the mythical “Queen that wards off the storms.”
The team navigates with some of the most advanced equipment. They have a tracking equipment called Spot Beacon which tracks their actual position every 10 minutes, a GPS, mobile phones and laptops. Swee goes blogging after every stage of the expedition at the team’s website http://www.friendshipkayak.com and at Facebook.
They have thus far covered 266.8 kilometers in 8 days. From Davao, the team proceeded to Davao Oriental before heading towards Surigao. These two legs of the expedition promises to have dreaded high waters and rough tides.(pr)