WORDS: JO ROYDS-JONES | IMAGE: LESLIE HOBBS
After a number of delays this year due to Covid-19 the second ever Middle Island Cup was finally able to take place on 31 October. In ‘normal’ years the Dragon Boat competitive season is generally over by June/July but despite this there was a great turnout for the event with teams competing across Women, Open and Mixed Small Dragon Boats as well as Mixed Standard Dragon Boats.
It was an added bonus that it happened to coincide with Halloween so it was a great excuse for some fancy dress costumes. On the water we had Vikings, Pacman, Super Mario, Undertakers and the Spanish Dragons suitably dressed in Dia de Muertos costumes.
Unlike the inaugural Middle Island cup which took place last year around Middle Island itself, due to the time of year with the Monsoon Winds making the back of Middle Island rather choppy the decision was made for safety reasons to alter race course and hold it in the channel between Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay. The new course though shorter at 1000m offered new challenges as it involved two 180 degrees turns which is quite a feat for a dragon boat. There is a reason why Dragon Boat races generally tend to be in a straight line! As a result of the course layout this meant there was more pressure than normal on the Steers. Take the corner too wide and you lose precious seconds, try and take it too sharply and the whole crew can end up in the water. This happened to one unfortunate crew and credit to them they managed to get back into the boat and complete the race.
Another additional aspect to the race which made it interesting and different from most Dragon boat races is the start and finish. Two boats line up in the middle of the course facing opposite directions; one boat going round the Buoy nearer the Club to start, whilst the other team go around the buoy further away. As a result there were sections of the race were there was no visual of the other team racing so it was not easy to gauge how you were doing against your competitor in the race. This made for an adrenaline pumped finish as the two boats turned around the last buoy and headed towards each other for the finish line giving everything they got.
Racing kicked off at 8am with the Women Small Boat teams, up first was RHKYC Charity team who despite a valiant effort were unfortunately defeated by the Flying Dragons. They were followed by the Royal X Ladies team who were aiming to continue their winning streak up against Spanish Dragons and they comfortably won their first heat which put them straight through to the final. The RHKYC Charity team then raced for placement narrowly losing 3rd place to the Spanish Dragons.
For the final the Royal X ladies were able to hold their nerve when heading towards the finish line with Dragon Fly’s bearing down on them to take first place.
Following the Ladies was the Mixed Small Dragon Boats for which we had representation from RHKYC Charity team who managed to win their first race taking them through to the semi-finals to face Seagods. The Semi-finals did not go the team’s way coming second to Seagods so there next race was for placement. At the end of the day they came a
very respectable 3rd Place.
The Open small boat racing started with Royal X racing against Spanish Dragons replicating the Royal X Ladies first race they comfortably won their heat over Spanish Dragons. This put them straight through to the finals against SLPC where they had a convincing win.
After all the small Dragon Boat events it was the turn of the Standard Mixed Dragon Boat teams and this is where the 180 degree turn became more entertaining with some wide turns around the buoys witnessed! We had representation in the Standard Mixed event with
both the Royal X Team and the RHKYC Charity team. Unfortunately it was not to be Royal X team’s day after suffering a disqualification they ended up in the Tail race. RHKYC Charity team on the other hand had a great day and excelled themselves throughout their heats continuously improving round upon round to reach the finals to earn themselves a well deserved 2nd place.
This was the last race for 2020 and only the second one this year in which the Royal X team were able to compete strongly against other Dragon Boat teams for what has been an unusual season. It was a race very much enjoyed by all with teams appreciating the efforts that went in to having the opportunity to race again this year.
Lastly but most important, as always a race hosted by the Club cannot succeed without a lot of effort from all those involved in helping make the event happen. From those that help with the coordination in the run up to race day, the volunteers to help the day run smoothly and the support of the Club. Without them the day would not be a success so a BIG THANK
you to all those that helped with making the event happen.