Churning Up In Hong Kong

Churning Up In Hong Kong

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

James Penrose from the UK was one of the marathon swimmers who competed in this past weekend’s Naturally Buoyant category in the 14 km Cold Half marathon swim in Hong Kong, slogging through the choppy Stanley Bay that was churned up by 15-20 knot winds.

Despite the 17ºC warm water (for Penrose), the winds and turbulence got the better of 5 of the 7 solo starters. According to race director Doug Woodring, Penrose said that the Cold Half this year was tougher than his English Channel swim.

16 teams of 2 swimmers joined the 7 soloists in the midst of strong winds and a choppy start across Tai Tam Bay. Once they rounded the satellites off of Stanley, the pod of Cold Halfers were hit with strong winds which challenged their resolve.

The winner of the solo wetsuit event was Rob Hart from Singapore who completed the course in 4 hours 46 minutes. The winning relay team was won by Jemima Ridley and Aneekah Styles, a pair of local 14 year olds who beat all of the men’s teams and broke the course women’s relay record with a time of 3 hours 37 minutes. The men’s team record for no-wetsuits was also broken by Shane Davis and Jeff Faiola with a time of 4 hours 28 minutes.

Harry Wright and Katrin Buchta both attempted the Cold Standard race this year, which involves running the 42 km Standard Chartered Marathon day after the 14 km swim. Wright successfully completed his goal of swimming 10 km under 3 hours with a time of 2:49:20 and followed that with a marathon run time of 3:20. Wright said, “This was another amazing weekend with the Cold Standard races. The tougher conditions in the water made the race epically different and much harder than last year. I was happy with the swim result, but the run was slower than I had expected. I am happy knowing that I could not have pushed myself any harder though.”

Katrin Buchta, a German citizen living in Guangzhou, who was told at a young age that she could never do sports, completed 6 km of the swim and had to pull out due to the cold. This did not stop her from completing the marathon run with a time of 4 hours 20 minutes – her lifetime best by 5 minutes. Buchta said, “The Cold Half swim was the toughest ever. Since I did not finish, I now have unfinished business and will return to do it again. I am very excited about my personal best time for the marathon, and what a weekend of racing that was.”

James Riley and Andrew Au also raised over HK$500,000 for the HK Cancer Fund for their efforts in battling the elements in the Cold Half on Saturday.

Stretching from Stanley to Deep Water Bay, the relay course runs along Hong Kong’s most stunning views. The race is open to solo swimmers, or relays of two people. Woodring explained, “Like the Clean Half race every October, the race is both a celebration of the amazing water and geographic assets we have in Hong Kong, combined with extreme sports, and an appreciation of the environment. The elements really kicked in today, and though the tide was in everyone’s favor, the winds after The Wall, just after the halfway point, were a force to be reckoned with, particularly if you were breathing on the right side and into the white caps. Many swimmers were pushed off-course and swam wider than usual. The water was great though, and for those who like to prepare for channel swims, this is a great place to do it.

This year the event was visible live on the internet with the use of tracking devices for each swimmer and team. The tracking lines for the swimmers is still visible on Facebook or at Open Water Asia and


Solo Men’s Wetsuited
1. Rob Hart 4:46.19

Relay Women Wetsuited
1. Jemima Ridley and Aneekah Styles 3:37:30
2. Samantha Morton and Samantha Gove 3:39:49
3. Lynda Coggins and Christena Pazos 4:17:50

Relay Men’s Wesuited (30 min/30 min)
1. Scott Day and Doug Woo 3:53:02
2. Scott Burton and Ethan McGrath 3:56:20
3. Olivier Ricaille and York Schiling 4:07:47

Relay Men’s – Naturally Ocean (no wetsuit)
1. Shane Davis and Jeff Faiola 4:28;49

Relay Men’s Wetsuited (50%/50%)
1. Tony Sabine and Colin Hannah 4:48:48

Relay Mixed – Wetsuit (30 min/30 min)
1. Sally Rubery and Barry Day 5:07:32

Cold Standard (Swim and Marathon Run)
1. Harry Wright (10 km swim time) 2:49:00 + 3:20 (42 km run time)

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones