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2009 Laracy Gall Lamma 500 is a Stormer!

Sea, sand, sunshine, sounds, sweat, silverware, and the sweeping success of HKIPC marked the third annual Laracy Gall Lamma 500 held at Tai Wan To Beach, Lamma Island on Sunday May 10th!

Sea – deep, fast and clean with both 500m and 1,000m race options.

Sand – soft, fine and tropical style beach and with plenty of it to move around on as the tides treated us well.

Sunshine – hot and baking with the occasional hint of cloud cover, great for spectators and sales of cold Carlsberg!

Sounds – supplied by, pumping out over the PA system to entertain the beach, and punctuated by the dulcet tones of the race announcers.

Sweat – by the bucketful as every paddler and team strived to give it their all in some of the toughest racing of the season.

Silverware – dished out at the awards ceremony by the bucketload.

Success – HK Island Paddle Club (HKIPC) triumphed in 6 of the 8 race categories.

Alliteration aside, what an awesome day’s racing was had by the 37 competing teams.

On arrival at the beach, following a warm up morning stroll from Yung Shu Wan ferry pier, paddlers were greeted by the welcoming sights of Kumar and the Waterfront team preparing breakfasts, plus the row of 20 brand new Toi Toi toilets which ensure that this is one event on the race calendar when a mad half mile dash to the nearest ‘squat and drop’ is not required between races.

What a great start to a great day!

And it just got better as you emerged through the foliage onto Tai Wan To Beach, surrounded by ant like preparation activities, and saw the coloured marker flags of the course stretching into the distance on the right next to the power station industrial complex, and the imposing green skyline of Lamma Island and Mount Stenhouse on the left. As Damian Laracy of title sponsors Laracy Gall mentioned in his awards speech, it truly is a special Hong Kong style view.

The racing was fast and furious all morning, the beating drums stirring primeval instincts in the paddlers on the water and drawing the attention of the hundreds on the beach to the action afloat, as the first round reached its colourful climax.

Then, a pause for lunch, well earned, with many crews choosing to cool down by going for a dip in the welcoming sea while children on the beach took to the boats, with a few somehow instinctively synchronising the drum beat of Queen’s classic from 30 years ago ‘We Will Rock You’.

But it was a lull before the storm, and nervous tension returned to those who’d taken the plunge and put their hands up to compete in the newly introduced 1km race. And there were plenty of them too, the Lamma 500 attracting many of Hong Kong’s most competitive racers. One after the other the crews got the airhorn send off to go from the starter and vocal sendoffs from the beach as they set doggedly about their task and 4 minutes of effort through both gritted teeth and supportive exhortations. It may have been Mother’s Day, but chocolates and flowers were certainly off the agenda for these crews, for a few minutes at least.

Into the afternoon, and the sun is still sizzling, the drums still beating, the music still pumping and the teams still pushing and roaring themselves on to greater exertions as we reached the business end of the day.

HKIPC have already made an impressive clean sweep of the 1km Races, taking first in all three categories, their Men’s crew being the only team to break the 4 minute barrier.

Lamma Ladies 1 are out paddled by Lamma Ladies 2 in the Women’s Final, a result sure to get the emails flying!

Split seconds separate many crews from silverware, but HKIPC really had a good day at the office taking no less than 6 of the 8 titles being contested at the Lamma 500, including all three of the upper divisions - Men’s, Women’s and Mixed – a fantastic achievement.

BGC Stormy Dragons teams also proved powerful, achieving top 3 positions in the three upper divisions.

The Lichtenstein Princely Navy pulled off an excellent result by posting 2nd in the Men’s Cup final, and there was much rejoicing. They just got their nose ahead of the strong BGC Stormies who finished third.

In the Men’s Plate, the Hongkong Electric team, in what may be considered a ‘home’ contest for them given the proximity of the power station, were delighted to lift the trophy. Lamma Dragons, definitely on home ‘soil’ were popular winners of the Mixed Plate trophy.

Local dignitaries, sponsors, and race organisers formed the Awards Presentation party including District Councillor Ms Yu Lai Fan, Chairman of the Lamma (North) Rural Committee Mr Chan, Mr Damian Laracy of Laracy Gall, Mr Law of the Lamma (North) Fishermen’s Association, Tournament Director Brad Tarr and Race Convener Gina Miller.

It was simply an amazing day, the feel good buzz was switched to ‘high’ and, certainly for this writer, there are few better days in the year.

The sky turned pink over Lamma as the sun went down. On the beach the Carlsberg flowed, the teams danced, chatted and laughed, the music played on as the stars came out.

The 2009 Laracy Gall Lamma 500 went down a storm. Definitely one to look back on and smile about. The only downside is the next one is 12 months away.

See you there!


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