Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Open water

I've just arrived back from my second trip to the weird golf buggy world of Hamilton Island where the Hamilton Cup Outrigger tournament takes place. The highlight, apart from driving the golf buggy - and I can tell you I tried to position myself behind the driver's wheel whenever we had to use it: the only way to enjoy being in a golf buggy is to take over the controls - was the 16K women's open race, which involved circumnavigating the island anticlockwise and running slap in to the biggest water I have ever paddled in (2.5 metre swells, some breaking, and nowhere to go but through the middle). The boats around us were being tossed in all directions by capricious waves so the only thing to do was focus on getting the paddle in the water and trying to prevent the boat flipping over. At one point we were literally thrown onto the rocks and had to paddle backwards to get away and back in to the race.

We came 17th out of 34, which doesn't sound much but against outstanding competition (essentially, the world's best paddlers), it was a major achievement. Plus, as parochial as this seems, we beat both women's teams from our main Hong Kong rivals.

In conversation afterwards the women's crew decided that the main reason we gel so well - despite being of vastly different backgrounds, ages and personality types - is that we were all outsiders as kids. I was talking to someone about this today and she said that all expats in Hong Kong are the same: we're all driven here by our difference. It's an interesting theory, but not one I'd test in a bar in Lan Kwai Fong on a Saturday night.


R2K said...

: )

Paddle Fan said...

I followed the results and you all did a wonderful job. Sounds like pretty incredible water, and I can only say this: Thank GOD we didn't go, cause I think I would have passed out cold trying to control our little crew in 2.5 meter swells over rock!

As for HK expats and differences - I just had that conversation this morning. Mine was not as benign, I said it was because we are all freaks, chased from our homelands by farmers with pitchforks. :)

LottieP said...

Thanks, Paddle Fan. I assure you that my crew was also a little bit under-prepared for the conditions but we somehow kept it together and actually gained some advantage through this water. I kept telling myself it was just like Cape D'Aguilar, the biggest water we face on our home paddles, though clearly it wasn't.

Next year for you and your crew, maybe? In the meantime there's always Palau and Guam!