Saturday, May 06, 2017

Labuan International Sea Challenge 2017 / Cross Channel Swim (5.4km)

This was our travelling group
Coach Jose, Eric Tan, Tip, Me, Iskandar from Melaka, Rupert Tan, George Lim (Labuan), Ru Yan Tan (Labuan) and Jill
The Labuan International Sea Challenge is organized every year over the last two weekends of April by the Labuan local government (Labuan Corporation) and Labuan Tourism. The activities organized includes Cross Channel Swim, duck catching, Round Island Kayak (50km), fishing, boat tug of war, taxi boat race and many others. All events offer good prize money, except perhaps for duck catching where there is no prize money and winners only get to keep the ducks.
The actual Cross Channel Swim is held on the last Sunday of April, every year. In 2017, Juniors (below 12 years) and veterans (above 45 years) only swam from Labuan shore to the island of Papan (2.7km). The other categories swam to Papan Island and back (5.4km).

Overall Assessment
I would say its really a wonderful weekend of sea sports and well organized. Only a local government authority would be able to pull this off and  they have done a very good job. There was a gripe that the swim finishing chute was unclear (which is true), but what do you expect? Its not the Olympic Games.
My only complaint  would be, that only locals or those who had participated before, were aware of this event. Participants from West Malaysia were not many and our coach Jose Larossa was one of only a few westerners participating (the TV gave him VIP treatment). Its a shame that hardly anyone knows of this wonderful sporting weekend.
The best place to check for information is the Labuan Tourism Facebook page. It has details of the event, official hotels and the results of this year's event.
Air Asia has many daily flights. We made the mistake of taking the very early flight there and a late night flight back. This wreaked havoc on our internal body clock. So I would suggest, staying two nights there and you can do a bit of sight seeing too. There are many hotels centrally located and close to the event. We found that our hotel was actually an official event hotel (Labuan Point) and we got a discount. Other hotels are Billion Waterfront, Tiara and many others. Just be careful you don't get a room close to loud music as its Saturday night. Car rental at the airport is very cheap, the airport is only about two minutes from town. For me the main attractions are the duty free chocolates and drinks, WWII Memorial Park, Japanese Surrender Point and that's about it.

Held on sunday at 7 a.m. on 30 April 2017. All categories started at the same time this year for the T.V.
Juniors (below 12 years) and veterans (above 45 years) swim one lap (2.7km). Taken back to Labuan by speedboat. Prize money goes five places deep.
The 13 - 17 years (boys / girls) and 18 - 44 years (men / women) categories swim two laps to Pulau Papan and back (5.4 km). Prize money goes ten places deep.
With the Organiser's permission, I joined the Men category as I wasn't going to win anyway.

My Garmin
 I went all over the place 
The sea was more choppy this year. It took me 20 minutes more (1 hr 13 mins) to reach Pulau Papan compared to the time taken (53 mins) to return. Total time was 2 hours 6 mins. I think the safety aspect was o.k. 20 kayaks escorted us. As the safety buoy helped saved me when I had my heart attack on 16 Dec 2016, I now use it for all open water swims (races and practices) and I recommend everyone to always use the safety buoy.
We swam in between large stationary rusty ships which was quite interesting. At Pulau Papan they gave us a rubber band for evidence and water. The buoys were actually in a straight line but it didn't seemed straight to me whilst swimming out to Pulau Papan. Its not the first time my mind was tricked. We don't trust the buoy's position and end up swimming all over the place. So trust the buoy and always keep sight of it. One person I know did get minor jelly fish stings but I would classify this Channel as "no jelly fish".

This is Ahmad Fathi Junaidi from Brunei.
 I think his accomplishments in endurance sports exceeds any Malaysian.
Marathon Des Sables, Numerous Ironmans, Ultra runs (the toughest ones), Ultraman Australia etc
And Brunei is not known for its sports

First timers George Lim and Ru Yan Tan were for me the stars.
It was their first time but they finished exhilarated and with a smile
 If that was not enough, they then went duck catching.

OK that's it. Next event is the 12km Samui Channel Charity Swim on 13 May 2017.


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