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.