Around the Island Race 2016

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Middle Island, Hong Kong – Sunday November 13th, 2016

The final race event of the season, and the largest event in Hong Kong for outrigger canoes, saw two Lantau Boat Club teams and a fleet of over 30 boats navigate the 46km course around Hong Kong Island. Teams from Singapore, Hawaii, Dubai and Spain together with many local teams based in Hong Kong made for a truly international event proving Hong Kong is cementing its place in the outrigger world and helping grow the sport globally.

Near perfect conditions with an easterly wind made for an exciting day on the water. A men’s team of nine and a mixed team of ten represented LBC for this race which included ‘sea changes’.

mens-team-atirLBC men were in the lighter ‘unlimited’ canoe category and up against the top teams from VRC, Yacht Club, Singapore Paddle Club (SPC) and Hawaii.

The Hawaiian team and the VRC made fantastic starts and left the other teams standing, with the Yacht club moving away in third in the opening kilometres. LBC men were on the tails of SPC during the first legs of the race. The Victoria Harbour conditions proved difficult and SPC began to pull away into the distance, leaving LBC in a clear fifth place going into the dry change. This meant the pressure was lifted, and LBC men were able to enjoy the exciting race conditions through to the end of the race.

Fifth place was confirmed for LBC men in a challenging category with some top teams.

LBC fielded an experienced team for the mixed category with the goal of posting a good result in the largest race category of the ATIR.  The division numbered eight entries with an additional three teams racing with no crew limit (and thus barred from line honours).

mixed-team-atirLBC Mixed started strongly and contested the lead with AusCham and SPC mixed as they raced past Aberdeen harbour. The race pack gradually spread and the positions settled down by the first change.  AusCham had begun to pull away from the pack and build a lead.  LBC lay a close third to SPC and were beginning to apply pressure by the second change just before entering Victoria Harbour.  The team paddled magnificently through the first half of the harbour into a strong headwind and through the trademark heavy chop on the approaches to the Macau Ferry Terminal to move into second place over SPC. By the dry change at Kellett Island, LBC had increased their advantage and held a clear second place.

Following a smooth dry change, LBC consolidated their second place in calmer seas through the second half of the harbour and, much to their surprise, kept pace with the one of the faster ‘Unlimited’ canoes.  The Tathong Channel on the east side of Hong Kong Island provided rare docile conditions and LBC maintained their form with solid paddling, rounding Cape D’Aguilar just ahead of the ‘Unlimited’ crew. This position was maintained around Stanley Peninsula and all the way to Middle Island.  The new finish taking in a loop to the west of Middle Island was enjoyable and the final turn around the last marker buoy prompted a sprint down the home straight to break the line in 4:35:08.   LBC Mixed finished a clear and strong second place out of the field of 8, also ahead of all 3 “no crew limit” teams and 3 of the Mixed ‘Unlimiteds’. Congratulations must go to AusCham who were never troubled in first place and took line honours with a time of 4:26:53.  As they were racing in a rented LBC Bradley it’s true to say that an LBC canoe was first across the line!

Many thanks to Andrew our mixed team coach, to Callie our team manager on the day and all the team paddlers for a great effort and here’s to the next one!

What a great way to end the outrigger season. Well done to LBC mixed team finishing in second place in a difficult category. And a good effort from the men’s team as well.

With the holiday season approaching at lightning speed, attention turns to the Dragon Boat season, with training kicking off in the New Year and races in April and May 2017.

– Tim Osborne and Leam Murphy