HK Internationals 2011

What a weekend! I would like to quote from our very own famous Fair Dinkum Oracle, Guru Rodney,…..two words…..”F**KING AWESOME!!!!”

I am sure a lot of you, just like me are really sore this morning and have totally lost your voice. Remember…you are not alone… Just to recap the whole experience and share it with those that were not there….

The HK Internationals is the biggest dragonboat event in HK. It fielded over 200 local teams and over 40 teams from all over the world, including 16 teams from Canada (the Former World Champions), the China National Team, Macau National Team, HK Team, Thailand team, Royal Navy from Australia and Taiwan team to name just a few. Next year it will be even bigger as HK will stage the World Championships. So if you are keen to participate, don’t miss out!

FRIDAY – Small Boat Race

It started on Friday with the small boat (10 paddlers) races over 250m. Fair Dinkum had entered 2 teams (an Open team and a Ladies team). As it was on Friday, it created a lot of problems for many teams as they had to get paddlers willing to take time off work to paddle. After a frantic last minute FD calling, we managed to field 2 teams. However we could only field a Mixed team for our Open’s event as we didn’t have enough guys. Hats off to those that paddled on Friday for Fair Dinkum that day. It was amidst thunderstorms and non-stop rain. I remember that I was looking out the window and I couldn’t see anything. It was that bad. Mark told me the water was very choppy and there were a lot of capsizing. Luckily both our teams went thru all 4 races safely. We were up against very tough competition and we performed very well. Both our teams managed to come 4th in their respective local race categories. Unfortunately we just missed the qualification requirements for the International finals on Friday afternoon and Sunday. Our Mixed team missed by 1 position and our Ladies team missed by 2. Reminder that our Mixed team came 23rd out of 46 Open teams (all Men!) and we needed to come 22nd. So it was really a solid effort!

SATURDAY – Local Races and International Qualifications

Day started early (meeting at 8am and our first race was at 9:20am). Thank you to Stefanie who got there at 5:30am (yes 5:30am!) to reserve a great spot for FD as our base camp. I thought I was crazy but hats off to Stefanie for her effort and contribution! Saturday was the local heats and qualification races for both our Men’s team and our Mixed Team for the International Finals on Sunday. These were standard boats (18 paddlers). We had also entered the Banking & Finance Cup category which we knew we could win. Last year, we were well in the lead but unfortunately it ended with the whole FD team going for a swim in Victoria Harbour as our boat had capsized just short of the finish line). We could not let this happen again.

1st Race – Mixed Heat 1 – it was our first official race so everyone was nervous and excited at the same time. Maybe it was a bit of Prive and LKF as well from Friday night. We came a very close 3rd (within 1sec from the 1st team). This meant we had to go to the Repcharge.

2nd Race – Banking & Finance Cup (Heat 1) and International Open Qualification Race. The B&F Cup was held over 2 heats and it was based on points system. This was our 1st heat. We knew we had to come 1st. We also had to do well to ensure that our team qualify for the International Open races on Sunday. Our main competitor this year was going to be ANZ and BOC. As ANZ was the official sponsor for the event, we knew they would have a strong team. For those of you who have raced against BOC, we all know that they were the only Banking Team who could field a whole team of “Bankers” paddlers all with six-packs! FD only had Adam and Mark but their whole team were fisherman. We later learnt (from a friendly source) that they fielded a whole new team at their earlier fisherman race at Mui Wo after their Big Brother were unhappy with their performances this season. FD had a very sold race. Our start was not perfect and BOC was in the lead. However our Long strokes was solid and our final power-up was strong. We managed to beat BOC by 0.5sec (about 1/4 of a boat) for 1st. ANZ was 2sec off in 3rd. Mission accomplished. Just to put everything into perspective. We recorded a time of 2min20sec. It was actually faster than IPC (2min21; Buzz 2min30; Liechtenstein 2min29 and Stormies 2min33)

3rd Race – Mixed Repcharge – We had to come top 2 to qualify for the Local Semi-finals. This we did with style. We only lost to Classic Army (another very strong team with some fisherman from Hoi Fu Jai – Sea Tigers). I am very convinced that we did so well in this race was because we had a great drummer (aka ME!) but then Lee, Rod and Al Mok complained that if we had a lighter drummer and they didn’t have to carry my fat a$$ we would have come 1st. Ok ok….I will hit the gym…

4th Race – Mixed Semi-finals – To qualify for the Local final, we had to come top 4 out of 8 teams. We were up against the best in HK (IPC, Buzz, Fisherman etc etc). We gave it all but as this was the 4th race for some of our paddlers already, we could see the weary factor coming in. We managed to come a very credible 6th (within 1-boat length from 1st). Actually there was less than a 3-sec margin between all top 6 teams.

So it was overall a great day of racing for FD on Saturday. More importantly Mission Accomplished as both our teams had qualified for the International Finals on Sunday. It was off to the beer stands. That’s when FD created Havoc….. I am sure you can all recapture these moments on Facebook. After many beer boat races, beer showers and dirty dancing….we called it a day at 6pm. We knew we had to be ready for another long day on Sunday……

SUNDAY – International Finals

If we thought Saturday was early, Sunday was even worse as our 1st Race was at 8am so we had to be there no later than 7am. Again, thanks to Crazy Stef, location of our base camp was secure! From the look of the faces of some of our team mates, we knew the party the night before didn’t stop at 6pm. Apparently some of the paddlers only managed 1-2 hour sleep. Some guys didn’t even sleep and went straight to the races from LKF! For those that want to know, they will not be named…

Both our Men’s Team and Mixed teams had qualified for the International Plate finals. Fortunately for our teams, the morning races were our International heats so we could rest some of our core paddlers. It was also a great chance to allow some of our rookies to paddle against some very strong competition. It was a great experience for them all. It also meant some solid resting time for our hardcore party animals.

3rd Race – Fancy Dress Race. If you all think this was an easy race….it wasn’t. Thank you to Stef once again, our team stole the show. Our girls were dressed in sexy Batgirl outfits and our Men in Batman outfits. Star of the show of course went to our drummer, Mark, who wore a very tight, body-hugging CATWOMAN outfit. Of course being Media [email protected], FD did a full parade up and down the spectator stands and it was cameras galore! Thank you to our FD Stormtroopers (aka Rodney and Al Mok), they cleared the crowd for our parade. The funniest moment was when TVB was on stage. They were presenting their TVB dragonboat team which were fielded by some of the former and this year’s MR HK contestants. They were doing their interview. However, FD performance our dance right next to the stage and all the cameras were on us!!….you should have seen the depressed look on the faces of those people from TVB…. HOO HAR!!!!  To win this race, we actually had to paddle 500m in these outfits. Well definitely the capes from the batman outfit didn’t really help us fly. It was actually very difficult to paddle in the outfit. Imagine…mask, tight body vest and capes….not fun! We were lined up against Mickey Mouse from Disneyland, Caveman from some Govt team, Tin Man from CPA and Flint stones from HKADBA.  Our team managed to come 2nd overall based on Fastest time and best dress. Again great work!

The afternoon races started at 2pm and these were all final races.

1.      Banking & Finance Cup Final
2.      International Mixed Silver Plate Championship
3.      International Open Silver Plate Championship.

We knew it was going to be a difficult afternoon as these races were literally back-to-back for a lot of the guys….

Banking & Finance Cup Final – Again we knew our main competitor was ANZ and BOC. When we were lining up again, we saw that BOC had once again changed the composition of their team. More fisherman?? We were very focused for this race and we were off to a great start. Our long piece was very very solid. Benny and Kin were under strict instructions not to rush the strokes and make each one count. We started to edge forward, it was going to be a close race. It was the last 70m and we started our power-up. We started to pull away and won convincingly by more than 2sec. Mission Accomplished. Gold Medal and Champions of the B&F Cup!!

International Mixed Silver Plate Final – Within a few minutes of getting off our boat, we were already rushing to register for the Mixed final. It was going to be a tough race. We knew that we could win this but would the back-to-back races take its toll. We had a good start and we were in a nice top-3 position. Again our longs was good and solid. It was a tight race with 6 out of 8 boats all very close together. Final power up and that’s when fatigue took its toll. As the drummer, I could see the strain on our team’s faces. Cathay won convincingly by 3/4 of a boat length. The rest of the teams were very close. We eventually found out that we came 4th and mixed out on 3rd by 0.1sec. It was sad but we knew we had to remain focused for the next race which was the biggest race for our, the International Open Final. Also injuries started to set in. Some of our paddlers suffered heat stroke and cramps and had to be carried back to our base camp.

International Open Silver Plate Final – Again, another back-to-back. However, we knew this was our last race of the day and as Rod said, we had to give our 400% effort and leave everything in the water! Looking at the line up, we had BOC once again. We knew they would be out for revenge and also they were well rested. Our other biggest competitors were AMS (trained by a fireman and also with some of their help) and another a HK team called Power Assets. Thanks to our fireman steersman, he told us they were going to be strong as they were made up of a bunch of hardcore CLP guys and retired fireman. We were in lane 3. Our team was dead silent and focused at the start. Very solid start and we were in the lead. It was going to be a 3-boat race with AMS (lane 7) and Power Assets (lane 4) to our left. BOC was already dropping off. We were in our long piece and we could feel the other 2 teams gaining ground. Thanks to the live broadcast, I was told that Power Assets actually overtook us and AMS was very close to us. It was now down to our final power ups (last 50m). I could hear our steersman shouting behind me…GIVE IT EVERYTHING. JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE. PUSH IT!!! You could hear the buzzers go off simultaneously. It was a photo finish. We didn’t know whether we had won or not but we gave it all. On the way back, we could hear people cheering and then we saw our FD Girls jumping up and down with 1 finger in the air. We knew we had come 1st. It was actually by 0.25sec only! Fantastic result!

It was overall a FANTASTIC ACHIEVEMENT! After the prize ceremonies, we were off to our well deserved celebrations at the beer gardens. Again, I will not mention what went on (check facebook!) After many beer showers and high fives and bear hugs, I collapsed into bed. It was a crazy weekend.

Just to sum it up, summary of our results are as follows:

1.      Banking & Finance Cup (Small Boat Race) – 3rd Runners Up
2.      Women’s (Small Boat Race) – 3rd Runners Up
3.      Banking & Finance Cup (Standard Boat) – CHAMPION
4.      International Mixed Silver Plate – 3rd Runners Up
5.      International Open Silver Plate – CHAMPION

Also to add to this, earlier in the week two of FD Dodgeball Teams (FD Cobras and FD Average Joes) both got Gold and were Champions in their respective divisions. Next season we will be in Div I and Div II of the HK Dodgeball league.

It has been a great month for FD so far with solid results at the Stanley Internationals as well as above. Let’s aim to round this off with a great race and party at the Stanley Short Course this Sunday. In terms of what we have after this race, we will have our Handover Cup in Shau Kei Wan in Oct (1st weekend). We are also looking at doing either a race in Singapore or Shanghai in September. Stay tuned!








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