Organisers will seek around HK$5 million from the governments M mark major sports event fund to pay for next year’s surf skiing International Canoe Federation Ocean Racing World Championships, which will be held in Hong Kong for the first time in November 2017.
This weekend’s Dragon Run, which takes places over around 22-23km of water between Clearwater Bay and Stanley, has long been a fixture on the World Surfski Series since it began in 2007.
And with an increased prize fund this year attracting the world’s leading competitors including brothers Dawid and Jasper Mocke from South Africa and current World Surfski Series leader and reigning world champion Cory Hill from Australia, the majority will return next year after Hong Kong was awarded the hosting rights for the third edition of the biennial World Championships.
But with half of the HK$300,000 donated by Hong Kong-based fund manager and ski surfer Patrick Maloney being used for this year’s Dragon Run, and the remainder as a starting point for next year’s event, the Hong Kong Canoe Union will soon submit an application for government funding.
Watch: Surf Ski action in Hong Kong
The 2017 World Championships will take place over the weekend of November 25-26 alongside the Asian Championships, with both events including men’s and women’s races.
“Surf ski is a very new discipline in Hong Kong and Asia and we hope we can take this opportunity to know about this sport,” said Hong Kong Canoe Union elite training director Raymond Lo Ho-yin.
“The Hong Kong Canoe Union are the organisers for these two events and we will also try to apply for the M mark event funding from the Hong Kong government. I hope we can get big funding from there, we are confident.”
Around 150-160 participants will take part in this weekend’s event with most coming from overseas to compete for the US$4500 first prize in each race, with officials already anticipating 400-500 entrants for the World Championships event.
Watch: South Africa’s Jasper Mocke
Hong Kong currently has 51 surf living saving clubs, with the sport finding its roots in similar establishments in both Australia and South Africa in the 1940/50s.
And officials are hoping to attract some of the estimated 10,000 leisure paddlers in Hong Kong towards the developing sport which can see competitors reach top speeds of 30km/h in specially designed long and narrow lightweight open kayaks which are steered by a foot pedal controlled rudder.
“The Hong Kong race has always been competitive between Australians and South Africans as it is a neutral ground,” said South African Dawid Mocke, who is a three-time Dragon Run winner having claimed the first two titles in 2007 and 2008.
A photo posted by Dawid Mocke (@dawidmocke) on Nov 7, 2016 at 10:19pm PST
“The Aussies needs to travel a good few hours and so do the South Africans, and these two nations are the powerhouses of open ocean racing.
“It always brings good conditions and it was a natural fit for the World Surfski Series. The world championship will probably follow a similar route to the Dragon Run, but is recognised as a world championship event.”
Hong Kong-based retired doctor Robert Stevenson, who classes himself as a passionate enthusiast, used the wealth of talent and experience in Hong Kong this week for the Dragon Run to arrange a symposium aimed at increasing exposure, with the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) already utilising the sport as part if its training programme for both sevens and 15s players.
Watch: 2015 Ocean Racing World Championship
“We are also interested in the mind element as well as the physical. The physical conditioning is very specific to rugby, but the mind element in the surf ski work that they do gets them out of the everyday rugby situation and allows them to switch off, but there is also some transference to what they do on the water to the pitch, even if it is not obvious,” said HKRU lifestyle manager Mick Scott.
“It makes them self reliant as they are the only person that is in the boat and they are the only person they are competing with, and that is true on the pitch as well.
“When you put guys in different environments it bring out different parts of their personalities and the knock on effect of this type of activity you can’t quantify immediately, but we have seen our guys grow after having adventure type activities and experiences.”
Entry for the 2017 World Championships is open to associations from across the globe, while officials have retained the open entry system which sees competitors from across all skill sets and experience levels line up alongside the professionals.
“We are looking for government support. It would be extremely difficult to achieve what we want to achieve without official government support,” said Stevenson.
“It is a dear wish to see a line up in a few years time of a group of Chinese men and women who can start to compete with these world champions.
“It will be a big challenge, but we have a lot of resources and there will be a lot of people who would be very enthusiastic, we just need to give them the opportunity.”