Coastal and indoor rowing combine in actual and virtual
What do you get when you cross rough water coastal rowing with calm, consistent rowing on the indoor rowing machine? The ATIR Global Erg Challenge and the Around the Island Race.
This is the brainchild of Hong Kong’s Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) and combines a 24-hour coastal rowing ‘Around the Island Race’ (ATIR) with on-site ergometre races and a virtual global ergometre challenge complete with the virtual experience.
Each team or individual had the same goal; to row the 45km distance around Hong Kong Island.
Athletes from around the world took to the water, or to their ergometre, and set out to complete the 45km. The on-water competitors raced in coastal rowing shells. There were several events offered, including relays and full-distance in both coxed quadruple sculls and doubles. Twenty-five teams with 140 top rowers from eight nations participated in the on-water race.
The teams met on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour last weekend to prepare for their intense adventure. Some teams were on the water for more than six hours. Shenzhen DaiMeiSha Rowing Team in China, who completed the full-distance in the coxed quad in 3:27:45, recorded the fastest time. The fastest double on the water was a composite crew from Helsingborg/Universitario, who finished in 3:44:19.
The course took crews clockwise from Victoria Harbour, passing the wild coastlines of Cape Daguilar, the southern sandy beaches and the fishing port of Aberdeen, before finishing back in Victoria Harbour. This course boasts a rich history, with the first recorded race dating back to 1904. Formal and informal races have been taking place around the Island ever since. Then, about ten years ago, the RHKYC decided to enter crews in an existing outrigger canoe race. The popularity has continued to grow and this year eight nations took part in the rowing competition: Italy, Denmark, Great Britain, Spain, Peru, Monaco, China and Hong Kong.
In 2016 the ergometre race was added; the ATIR Global Erg Challenge. This provided an opportunity for individuals and relay teams from around the world to join the competition. In order to accommodate the different time zones, the organising committee allotted a 24-hour period for completion. For the first time this year, ergometre competitors were able to experience the views from home. An app developed by KinoMap synched the ergometre’s progress to a video of the coastline around Hong Kong Island, providing a full virtual experience.
The ATIR Global Erg Challenge is co-organised by Ocean Recovery Alliance, an NGO focused on ocean protection. The event promotes ocean protection and encourages participating teams to raise money for water protection causes.