Another great mass splash for glory
The iconic cross-harbour swim is back with a splash this year. More people will be allowed to join, and improvements have been made to the rules and course design.
The New World Harbour Race, which was successfully held last year after a 33-year absence, will be held on October 21.
Organisers said they would increase the number of swimmers who can compete from 1,000 last year to 1,500 this year.
While the path the swimmers will take is similar to the one in 2011, the distance has been changed to 1,500 metres - or 300m shorter than last year. They will race from Lei Yue Mun Sam Ka Tsuen Public Pier to the finish line at Sai Wan Ho Harbour Park Public Pier.
David Chiu Chin-hung, technical committee head of the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association (HKASA), which is in charge of the race, says they will use floating devices to mark the route so that participants won't get lost, as some of them did last year.
'After listening to comments from participants last year, we decided to put a buoy every 100m near the shore and every 200m in the middle of the sea,' says Chiu. 'This should be able to give a clear guidance to our swimmers [on] where to go.'
There will also be more age and gender groups.
Two new age groups - 17 to 49, and 50 and above - have been added to the 12 to 16 and the open categories. Swimmers can join men's, mixed or women's categories, which are open to all ages.
For team races, the number of members in each group has been cut from three to just two. The pairs are expected to take care of each other during the event.
Organisers hope to attract friends, families and couples to join the race. The starting positions will be determined by time trials. The slowest swimmers will be allowed to go in front.
Spectators can enter waterfront areas near the starting and finishing points.
The cross-harbour event will also be more exciting because it will be held at the same time - and same area - as the fifth Asian Open Water Swimming Championships for professional swimmers.
For the first 1,500m, they will have the same route as the New World Harbour swimmers. They will then break away from the pack by turning left. They will have to complete two loops near the shore of Quarry Bay Park before reaching the finish line at the San Wan Ho pier. Their route will be five kilometres long.
Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, honorary secretary of the HKASA, said they would closely monitor the water quality in the area with the help of the Environmental Protection Department.
The cross-harbour swim was previously suspended for 33 years because of the poor quality of water in Victoria Harbour.
The 2011 race used boats and canoes to guide the swimmers, but these water vessels will now be used by the rescue team. In addition, there will be 10 new inflatable rescue boats in case of emergencies.
Visit www.hkharbourrace.com for details. Applications close on July 25 at 5pm