On 3 October, The Bays was held amid pent up demand for races and tight distancing rules, on an exceptional day for paddling, with wind, waves, sun and big smiles. This was the inaugural event co-hosted by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and Ocean Recovery Alliance “For the Ocean,” with an angle to ocean appreciation and protection. The event was originally scheduled to be held earlier in the summer, in honour of World Oceans Day (8 June), but due to restrictions for sports and gathering, the event was twice postponed. Luckily the event was reinvigorated with just 10 days notice when Race Director and Club member Doug Woodring saw a great window of opportunity to host it on the long Mid Autumn Festival Weekend.
The event was highly anticipated and well attended with over 100 paddlers and rowers, and there would have been many more had we been able to cater to OC6 and Quad rowing teams.
The Bays - Southside Relay Challenge, covered some of the most beautiful bays of Hong Kong on a 33km course which stretched from Stanley to Cape D’Aguilar, around the inside of Deep Water Bay, and finishing at Middle Island. The course had three change points at different beaches, meaning that each team of two or four people had to move themselves from beach to beach on land, while their teammates paddled or rowed in some exciting and big conditions at times.
There were some fast times, and staggered starts with distancing factors at play, but over 33km, there was only a slight time difference between the top Coastal Rowing Doubles Team, the Baywatch Boys, at 2h 49m 43s, and the top OC2 Men’s team, the Furious 50s, at 2h 52m 55s. The top Men’s OC1 was Nick and Jack at 2h 57m 34s. On the Women’s side the fastest OC1 relay pair were Mahilo at 3h 33m 3s, the fastest OC1 Mixed pair were Molo Lolo at 3h 7m 36s, OC2 Mixed was Chaffing the Rim at 3h 12m 24s along with many other notable results that can be found on the Facebook page, The Bays.
The event included a racing first, with an ‘Ocean Alignment Factor’, which is a new handicap system for outriggers and surf ski paddlers based on previous VRC race times, and calculated to give slightly extra time bonuses for every five-year increment, and every kilometre traveled in the race. This ‘OAF’ factor was not included for the coastal rowers due to lack of previous reference times for calculation purposes. Those with a few more years under their belt had some slight advantages with this factor, but those years also lead to experience, and there weren’t actually many changes in final standings as a result.
This event was well collaborated on between clubs, with great volunteer support from all of the local clubs, along with a combined VRC time trial race two days prior, allowing teams to move boats to Tai Tam Bay prior to the race start. The RHKYC Safety Team did a great job to be on hand to support all racers on the water. "The goal of the event is to bring together the natural beauty of Hong Kong’s coastline and waters, with an environmental message which we can all carry into our respective communities, creating ocean ambassadors from all of us at the respective clubs and water sports, to protect our stressed environment. Given the global start to the Roaring 20s, this topic will hopefully be all the more important to all of us in protecting what we love for sports, recreation, health and competition,” said Woodring.