Heading into the Steelecase Hong Kong Dragon Run I wasn’t really sure what to expect, having not raced for the past 4 months due to my elbow injury really played with my mind but the fact that I knew I had done the work leading up to the race really left me having to trust myself and the work that had been put in.
I’ve been to Hong Kong for the Dragon run twice previously so know the course, it’s a very technical course with a mixture or head wind, downwind and finishing with a head/side wind so it really does test all abilities on the water. I personally love a good technical race, it makes it more interesting as apposed to a flat/washriding race!Unless your a marathon paddler in that case you may prefer the flat!!
I flew over direct from Auckland landing in Hong Kong early Wednesday morning. I was lucky enough to be hosted by the lovely Gladstone family in their home for the week also staying with the Gladstone’s was fellow paddler/friend Hayley Nixon so we had some great laughs! A couple of days chilling and ticking the arms over on the water and race day came around quickly.
Saturday morning = race time. We ventured to the start in Clear Water Bay Marina in Xen’s very flash Tesla (dream come true) and were greeted by 40km/h winds coming towards us. This was a great but slightly nerving sign. To know that after 5kms of punching out into that strong wind as soon as we cleared 9 pins islands we would be surfing our lives away! The women were set to start approximately 18 minutes ahead of the men to try have a battle for the finish. Before I knew it the women were lining up for the start.. I had a race plan in my head to stick to but I guess you have to be flexible as things don’t always go your way when your racing! The gun went off and I had a good start, just sitting on the side of fellow Kiwi Teneale Hatton and we were punching out through the large waves. About 1.5kms into the race I pulled up next to Teneale and took the lead, and then about 3kms into the race Hayley also joined in and we were all together at this point until 9 pins. I tuned 9 pins in 3rd position just behind the lead 2 girls. I didn’t want to over do it so kept my cool and got into my zone during the downwind. After about 10kms I passed Teneale and was right behind Hayley for the rest of the way. I would have moments where I would pull up equal with her but couldn’t seem to pull ahead. We then headed around the Kissing Whales where we had about 5kms to the finish of side/headwind. At this point I was about 10 ski lengths behind. I put in everything I had to catch up but it sure was a struggle in that wind. I crossed the finish line with a sheer thought of relief that I had NO elbow pain! It didn’t matter to me that I had just got my best ever placing in Hong Kong (2nd) 36 seconds behind 1st, but that fact that my elbow was okay!
Another great race win for Hayley Nixon, myself in second and Teneale in 3rd, In the men’s it was Cory Hill in 1st, Mackenzie Hynard in 2nd and Sean Rice in 3rd.
I spent the next few days across in Chnia with Tyrell & Kate Impson checking out the Epic Kayaks Factory and paddling with the local factory workers in Hangzhou and Shanghai which was incredible! Thankyou Tyrell and Kate for your hospitality!
Next up for me is the Perth Doctor this coming weekend.Im excited that there’s such a massive field of women paddlers attending and I love WA!! Time to see if I can retain my first international title!!!