Steelcase Dragon Run – Forecast, V14 and Hiking!

Friday, 09 November 2012 01:58 | Written by 
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Matt Bouman paddles the new Epic V14 near Stanley, Hong Kong Matt Bouman paddles the new Epic V14 near Stanley, Hong Kong Credits: Babs Yendell

The jetlag is still pretty bad; at 6am my body tells me it’s really midnight and I should be deeply unconscious.  I reach across for my friend the iPhone (bought a local sim at the airport, HK$88 for 7 day unlimited data plan, awesome!) to check the latest weather forecast for race day…

Weather Forecast

Sunday’s forecast is near perfect with the winds coming out of the north to northeast.  But we’re not paddling on Sunday – that’s the day a massive OC6 round-the-island race takes place. 

We’re paddling on Saturday.  And the forecast for Saturday is not nearly as good.

Suffice to say that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we may be paddling into wind. 

With the strict bureaucracy here in Hong Kong there’s no hope of making a last minute change to the course – so we’ll just have to suck up whatever Mother Nature dishes out to us!  (Last year the forecasts were similar and we ended up with a mild downwind…  Hope springs eternal.)

Epic V14

But the conditions will suit (perhaps), the new Epic V14, which will be paddled by Matt Bouman, Grant van der Walt and Cory Hill.

Epic chose the Dragon Run to launch the ski – designed as “the ultimate speed demon”, according to the press release on their website.

Epic V14

Grant vd Walt, Matt Bouman and Oscar Chalupsky line up for the photoshoot...

Sleek… and tippy

My impressions?  I took the ski out into the choppy water off Stanley and I can confirm that:

  • The seat is extremely comfortable and HIGH!  As the launch article says, K1 paddlers will love the feel of the cockpit.
  • It’s very tippy – more tippy than the V10 and V12 – and while I didn’t fall out, I was bracing frequently.  This is not a boat for intermediate paddlers, except on flat water!
  • Coming downwind, although I was still tentative, I could feel that the boat wants to accelerate.

And what do pros think?  “It's very difficult to say conclusively that a boat is fast before racing it a couple times” said Matt Bouman, “but this one certainly feels it.”

At dinner on Wednesday evening, Oscar Chalupsky was his usual understated self and indicated his confidence that Bouman would do well in the race and that the Mocke brothers (currently leading the Oceanpaddler World Rankings by some margin) wouldn’t make it into the top five…  Game on!

Sean Rice

Coaching clinics at the Hong Kong Sea School - Sean Rice in action

Michele Eray


South African Michele Eray


Making like a tourist

Paddling here is great.  I’ve been out to Cape D’Aguilar twice to visit the Kissing Whales rocks.  Both times the wind has been blowing (from the “right” direction) and I’ve had fantastic runs for the first km coming back towards Stanley.  I’m paddling a 12kg Think Evo II and loving it – the ski is extremely stable in the chop, but is responsive on the runs as well. 

Hong Kong = concrete jungle?  Nope

Like most people, I’m guessing, my pre-visit impression of Hong Kong was that of a vast, crowded, concrete jungle – and so it is, in the city center.  But a short cab ride away and you’re out of the built-up areas and into hikers’ country.


Home for the next few days - in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter!

Dragon's Back


Hiking the Dragon's Back

DSC 0104

Not quite the concrete jungle

Sunset and smog


Looking back towards Stanley...

A group of us walked the “Dragon’s Back” yesterday.  Unfortunately a combination of mist (I hope) and smog from Mainland China somewhat spoilt the views, but the hike is spectacular, and runs along a ridgeline of hills, part of the 50km Hong Kong Hiking Trail.  It was voted “Asia’s best urban hike” by Time magazine and it’s easy to see why.

Back to the race

This evening is race registration; tomorrow we paddle – pray for a nor’easter – even an easterly would do!

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