Hong Kong bun festival race in Cheung Chau crowns repeat champions
Firefighter and climbing instructor take titles before some 1,600 spectators
Firefighter Jason Kwok Ka-ming and climbing instructor Angel Wong Ka-yan were celebrating early Thursday after being crowned champions again in Cheung Chau’s annual bun scrambling competition that kicked off at midnight.
It was Kwok’s seventh time securing the men’s honour since 2005, while Wong won the women’s title for the fifth time since 2010.
Kwok tallied 927 points, while Wong scored 603. Wong also won last year.
Last year’s winner in the men’s category, firefighter Kidman Yip Kin-man, failed to defend his title and came in second. He was followed by Ho Sin-fai, the 2009 champion.
In the relay category, a team from the Zhuhai Climbing Association was victorious among ten teams. Apart from Zhuhai and Cheung Chau, teams from Shenzhen and Macau participated.
In the individual contest of nine men and three women, five contestants – including two of the three female competitors – were disqualified for failing to return to the ground within the three-minute time limit.
The 12 finalists emerged from two heats of 80 entrants and raced to the top of a 14-metre bun tower in Hong Kong at the stroke of midnight, snatching as many replica buns as possible within a few minutes.
Buns placed atop the tower were worth nine points, while those in the middle and lower sections counted for three points and one point respectively.
Men’s titlist Kwok said he stayed in the nine-point zone “a bit too long” in his quest to boost his score.
“It was actually risky because I left such little time to come down and could have been disqualified,” he said.
Wong credited a “calm mind” for topping the women’s field, adding that she did not give herself “too much pressure”.
The race started at midnight Thursday, capping off the annual Cheung Chau bun festival.
The fastest qualifier this year – at 33.13 seconds – was Cheng Sai-kit, a first-timer who said he only took part to support his girlfriend, Leung Ka-ki, also a finalist this year.
Revellers who sought to witness the gripping action up close had to collect a free ticket starting at 10pm Wednesday, with 1,650 tickets up for grabs on a first-come, first-served basis.
The venue was a football pitch next to Cheung Chau Pak Tai Temple Playground, located around 500 metres from the pier.
New World First Ferry added a sailing at 1.15am Thursday to ship spectators back to Central after the competition.
Staff from St John Hospital and the Hospital Authority were on duty to render medical assistance as needed, while Government Flying Service helicopters were at the ready in case of emergency.
In 2011, the bun festival was listed by the Ministry of Culture as part of the country’s intangible cultural heritage.