Monday, February 12, 2018

Oceanman at Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi on 25 Nov 2017 (10km)

The Oceanman at Tanjung Rhu on 25 Nov was the second Oceanman event in Malaysia for 2017. The previous Oceanman being at Putrajaya Lake on 19 March 2017.
The Oceanman at Tanjung Rhu also replaced the previous Langkawi SwimFest on 10 Dec 2016 at the same location.
Both Oceanman 2017 and SwimFest 2016 were held at the same time and place as Pesta Air Langkawi. We understand for 2018, Oceanman 2018 will be a "standalone" event.
The Oceanman franchise for Malaysia has been taken over by Langkawi native, Puan Azura. The signing ceremony in London was witnessed by Malaysia's Tourism Minister. We wish Azura every success in her endeavour to promote Open Water Swimming in Malaysia. We the Open Water Swimming community will support your events.
1.5km, 5km, 10km
Male and Female
Age groups divided into every ten years
As for all Oceanman events, the top ten in each age group automatically qualifies for the Oceanman World Championship. The Oceanman World Championship for 2018 is still to be announced.
All finishers get a medal and trophies are awarded to the top three in each age group.
Incident Next Door (no safety float)
We understand a youngster almost drowned close to the Oceanman's finish line. The youngster was not an Oceanman participant.
With my close friend, Philip Tan just before the start
I think the requirement to make the "safety float" compulsory for swimmers is a very good one. I can attest that when I got my heart attack on 18 Dec 2016, my first line of defence was to hold on to the safety float. I understand there have been no fatal incident whenever swimmers use the safety float.
I have observed a few times when swimmers were quite annoyed when they found out that the safety float was compulsory. Well swimmers, the safety float is for our own good.
The actual race
The 10km was the first event to start. The course was to swim a 5km triangle twice. The 5km participants would start a few minutes later and do the same triangle once.
At the start, the weather actually looked fine. But unfortunately, only a few minutes into the swim, the sea got very choppy, it became very windy and rained very heavily. It was a thunderstorm. The safety float attached to my body was flapping everywhere in the storm.
Visibility was much reduced and the buoys started moving about and were no longer in their original straight line. The first red turning buoy had moved away significantly. Being the honest racer, I nevertheless headed for the red turning buoy. I saw only one other swimmer actually go around the red turning buoy and I presume the vast majority didn't, but this was not their fault. So I was behind many swimmers who I knew were slower than me.
I decided to skip the 2.5km feeding point as it was still early in the race. I'd go for the 5km feeding point, I thought.
The yellow guide buoys had moved everywhere. The 2nd red turning buoy could not be seen in the bad weather but I knew it was somewhere yonder and I  kept going. I found it, duly went around it and headed back to the start point to complete the first triangle.
But alas I saw the majority of swimmers not going around the second red turning buoy. The 5km swimmers all seemed to take the short way back.
The buoys had gone everywhere, the weather was bad and no one was guiding the participants, so swimmers didn't strictly adhere to the course, probably just following the person in front.
I was feeling annoyed and wondered whether the race would be cancelled.
Then there was no feeding point at 5km. There was a change and apparently it was announced in the morning but I missed the announcement. Some kayaks did have water though.
I was told  there were even swimmers that didn't go around the third red turning buoy, and this was right in front of the race secretariat.
Second lap
The weather was calm for the second lap. I had missed the feeding at 2.5km and luckily the kayak at the first red buoy (at about 6.8km by now) had two pieces of bananas. I took one and left the other one for Ernesto Pujan who was just as hungry as me.
I headed for the 7.5km feeding boat and this boat rescued my race. Tons of bananas hanging from it's canopy and very helpful staff. Most swimmers gave the 7.5km feeding boat a miss (maybe they didn't recognise it) and after my banana fix, I caught many in front of me.
Again for the second lap I saw swimmers not following the course. I actually thought at that time, the swimmers were doing a different race or something.
Race Finish. The sea was perfectly calm for the second lap
I knew from the previous year that Tanjung Rhu has a lot of jelly fishes. A close swimming friend was hospitalized this year and I saw a female swimmer in pain at the showers. Luckily I didn't get any jelly fish stings this time.
I didn't stay for the prize presentation. I just headed for the nearby Fish and Chips shop which was quite delicious.

With my new friend, Ignacio Melero Ordonez from Spain. At Pattaya one week later, we would again finish close together.
10km Overall Results


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