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Day 18 – Guangzhou Race Day

So one of the boys decided to get a Giant Tattoo yesterday… hmm a huge dragon across the belly good luck to that one and hopefully it wont get infected today.

Today is the largest gathering that I have seen for the tour, with 130 teams and roughly 5000 competitors and 24 in the men’s competition. there are so many competitors tents lining both sides of the river its quite amazing to see. Today is a knock out competition with several events which are all 600m and include International Mens, Open Mens, Womens, 100 man boat and Traditional.

The International mens race is up second with us facing 5 of the hottest teams competing first, seems funny how all the best teams are in one heat and all the local teams seem to be spread out over the other much slower heats, but hey what else could we expect. We are here to race and race we shall!

So to move forward we must get 3rd or better. Going out to our boats we are questioned again on our life jackets as with every competition as we have our belt bag life jackets but are a short discussion we are allowed them, which we had already had the discussion earlier but no problem. Heading out to the start line was magnificent skyline, just incredible being on the water looking up towards to the Canton tower and the other tall buildings around, along with all the other little boats mulling around. A truly international event with thousands lining the entire course both sides of the very wide river.

Race starts with a BANG! off we go racing down the track getting left behind for a bit as we go as with all our starts as the others are much lighter teams, about 100m in though we start to pull a couple of the teams back and pass moving from 6th to 5th then another 100m to 4th but the heat is incredible and the boys (and women)  are paddling as hard as they can to get up there, this could be our last race so as you are looking down towards that finish line you are giving it your everything and more.

4th unfortunately is as good as we get, our first race of the day is now also our last of the day and of the tour. Disappointing but also head high as we knew who we raced against, still would have like to compete for the rest of the day though although probably not in the 40 degree heat with massive humidity. Paddling back down to the dock with head held high and body just screaming to stop as all was given in the last race but not allowing it to give up, this is the last paddle I get on the tour and I will do it right even if it is only past the crowd and back to the dock the final 600m or so.

Now we get to have the day supporting the womens team and enjoying the view and crowd. I took a walk from where the team tents where up to the start line about 150m up and this part was open to the public from there on and it was PACKED with thousands of people looking around everywhere, waving flags and cheering and wanting photos. A couple of team mates and I walked up to the finish line about 600m up from there and then a few hundred meters more and all we saw where people masses and masses of them all come down to watch the racing and in this heat!

I will always remember this tour it has been incredible a true life experience that I am so glad I didn’t pass up and I’m sure my father would have loved to hear all about it, as I know mum is reading about it, I cant wait to get home and excitedly tell her and others about all my experiences I have had over here.

I never really put much thought into the water bottle piece back home thinking whats a couple of water bottles per person but what I didn’t know was what it is over here. As a team we received 13 boxes of 24 water bottles at 500ml for today and we NEEDED them all, the amount of water I drank on this trip in the heat was incredible and now I understand why there is a need to work out how to recycle them better. Oh and we also got a box of firewater for the day, heh don’t want to get those two confused!

The women found out they had a competitor finally in this city as after their first race they where sitting in forth place for timing but with no one to push them in there race we knew they had more in them. The second time they went out they were told their life jackets were now illegal, that fluid piece comes back into play, and so had to wear the larger MUCH MUCH hotter life jackets to race in. Still the woman did outstanding and at the end of the day came in an amazing second in the grand final!

With all the racing around we managed to see some of the 100 man boats, although because we had another city through in earlier we didn’t get to have a go, we did see them race which was incredible and oh so fast!

A truly amazing experience that I hope to have the chance to experience again. The final night was cut short as we had time for a couple of drinks, a grab a piece of food on your way out to catch our flight and throw in some quick photos with everyone. A trip I loved.

Thanks China for hosting. Thanks Hamilton City Water sports for giving me a chance. Thanks mum and dad for pushing me to go. Thanks to the lovely lady Kiri for helping me all the way.

Thanks

Good bye, until the next tour…..

June 16, 2017 at 4:28 am https://www.travelblog.com/billnotwilliam/day-18-guangzhou-race-day/

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