Sunday, October 29, 2006

Making Waves on Paradise Island

the toughest part of that race was the first half hour when I began to wonder how I would even last for the next hour as the sun was beating down on usTwo brave friends of mine, Nancy and Amanda, has just attended an international outrigger race in Saipan. If you don't know what is an Outrigger, it is a traditional canoe used by Micronesia people, you paddle it in similar technique to Dragonboat, except you switch the side that you are paddling every 18 strokes. It has a supporting buoy (the outrigger), thus more stable than a dragon boat and therefore capable ocean crossing and riding bigger waves (Nancy please fill me in).

It was the 8th Micronesia Cup in Saipan, Nancy and Amanda represented the South China Sea Outrigger's mixed team competitng with giant paddling team from different island communities, including teams Saipan, Guam, Japan, Palau and Hong Kong (the mighty HK Island Paddler Club was also there). They did three races in two days, 500m, 1500m sprint and grueling 12miles distance challenge! They did brilliantly well but I will let Nancy to do the talking.

From Nancy's email,

"We didn't win any trophies that day but on Sunday, we did an 18km (8mi) distance race which took us 2 hours 5 minutes 30 seconds to complete which was a fantastic time, considering the best Men's team did it in 1hour 45 mins....

"For me, the toughest part of that race was the first half hour when I began to wonder how I would even last for the next hour as the sun was beating down on us and I was tired already. But as we started to round the island at the halfway point and I knocked back a Powerbar Gel pack, I got mentally psyched that we were halfway through. Plus, the water was amazingly clear and blue in Saipan which makes it tougher to keep your focus in the boat...

"I'm in Seat 3, who does the calls for switching sides on which you paddle. This means you have to be able to paddle and count to 14 at the same time (tougher than you might think!), while being careful not to call a switch when big waves might knock the ama (stabiliser) up and potentially huli (capsize) the canoe...."

In the end they came third in the Mixed Team catogroies, it was her first international race and it was such a tremendous achievement. I am inspired, maybe in the next dragon boat season I will paddle again and give the best of my effort, maybe even train with these stars for a long distance race. Afterall I always have an appetite to take on something BIG. If anyone of you are equally inspired, their club is always looking for more new blood.


ahdont said...

man, good job nancy! i am also inspired. i don't really like water sport but after reading this, i think i will give it a try.

Amanda said...

Hey Gabs thanks for the write-up! I meant to write something to share this with my friends but have been too occupied with work and... (now i sound like a crazy woman) Trailwalker this coming weekend..... The Saipan race was truly inspiring... we expected nothing and we all surprised ourselves. Our target was the long distance race as we've been training for that, and our paddlers' built was not exactly ideal for sprints (we're probably the smallest team in terms of body mass!). We've got one shot, 18 km, 2 hours of paddling in what must be one of the most beautiful waters in the world, and all 6 of us gave it our best. I can still vividly recall the moment we passed the finish line! It was magical! ;-) Do come and paddle with us in Sai Kung some time!

N said...

If you want to see what real Polynesian outrigger canoeing is like, check out this video on YouTube of some OC4's (Outrigger Canoe for 4 people) in some big water.
(or goto YouTube and search for Outrigger Surfing - the video is 15 mins). Watch how some of these big guys ocassionally sit on the wooden iaku's to try to prevent the ama (stabiliser) from rising up and causing them to huli (capsize). Unfortunately we don't have this kind of water in HK, so we paddle in an OC6, which is for non-surfing water. But come join us for some paddles and we can do some less dramatic huli's :D.

This year, we will be targeting the Liberty Cup in NYC where you'll be paddling on the East River & Hudson River, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Lincoln Tunnel and back near Liberty Island. We'll also be targeting the Micronesia Cup 2007 which takes place in the lovely waters of Palau. Come join us!

Saipan said...

Hafa Adai,

Strong work South China Sea! Nice to read something about the 8th Micronesian Cup in this Blog. Hope you are all doing well. In May we're again planning to paddle to Tinian (island South of Saipan) from Saipan and back, roughly 44 miles. You guys interested?

-Richard (Saipan Outrigger Canoe Club)

Gabs Lau said...

Thanks for the invite Richard, but I properly want to get a discipline triathlon training started first.

Saipan said...

Paddling is really good cross training for swimming. -Richard

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