Water sports arena

Victoria Harbour was once again the venue (above) for an international water sports event in November, (23rd to 25th) when Hong Kong hosted the 2018 Asian Rowing Coastal Championships. Organised by the Hong Kong, China Rowing Association (HKCRA) and supported by the Hong Kong Water Sports Council, the championships attracted over 200 competitors from eight countries and regions around Asia. The event was also a ‘test’ event in preparation for the World Rowing Coastal Championships, to be held on the same course from the 30th of October to 3rd of November 2019.

With up to 12 rowing boats in each of the 16 races held over two days, the 4-kilometre course from Kellett Island to Central Pier 10 and back required competing crews to manoeuvre around a series of eight buoys, bringing them close to spectators along the Central waterfront and Hong Kong Observation Wheel and at Golden Bauhinia Square.

The organisers planned the course in co-ordination with the Marine Department, Star Ferry and New World First Ferry to ensure the safety of the racing crews and minimal disruption to ferry services, in particular the Star Ferry’s Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui route (right), which the crews crossed twice in each race. The outcome was very successful for all parties.

The harbour has hosted several small rowing regattas in the past two years, but the Asian Championships were a significant step up to demonstrating the harbour’s potential as a water sports arena for rowing. In this respect, rowing joins dragon boats and the annual cross-harbour swimming race as a third potential icon in harbour water sports events.

The Opening Ceremony for the championships was attended by Hong Kong’s Commissioner for Sports, Yeung Tak Keung (below) and the president of the Asian Rowing Federation, Adm Chainarong Charoenruk. In his speech overlooking the harbour, Yeung noted “Our beautiful Victoria Harbour attracts millions of tourists every year. It is a working harbour, but also has great potential as a local and international water sports venue.”

An essential key to organising such an event in the harbour is to have an appropriate base from which to access the water and strong technical support for the running of the event, including precise positioning and laying of buoys. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club was the venue and delivery partner for the championships and provided a large number of experienced volunteers in a number of areas as well as being the operating venue for the event.

The Organising Committee cannot rest on its laurels.  The dates 30th of October to 3rd of November 2019 are already fixed for the World Rowing Coastal Championships on the same course. The HKCRA will shortly apply for M-Mark status for this world-level event and are expecting up to 700 of the world’s top coastal rowers to make the trip
to Hong Kong joined up.

It will be an exciting spectacle and a high level of community engagement is being planned to maximise the impact of the event for the local community.

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