Now in its fourth year, the Hong Kong ‘Cold Half’ is earning a reputation as a must do race in its own right and as a perfect training swim for better known challenges such as the English Channel. In fact, it has been described as a tougher swim than the English Channel due to wind and currents.
The 15km race starts from Stanley Main Beach, rounds Hong Kong’s southernmost point at Bluff Head and finishes at Middle Island within Deep Water Bay, taking in some of the island’s most stunning views. The race is open to solo swimmers, or relays of two and there are separate prize categories and records for wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers.
The 2016 edition of the race took place on Saturday, 30 January in conditions that race organiser Doug Woodring described as perfect. “It was easily the best conditions for this race in the last four years; it was definitely faster, calm and warm,” he says.
By warm, Woodring means a water temperature of around 17 degrees and 20 degrees in the air, so hardly tropical.
Local swimmer 16-year old Singha Chau, wearing a sleeveless wetsuit, stormed around the course in 3hrs 4m and 31 seconds setting a new record by nearly 50 minutes. The youngster is hoping for selection to compete in the marathon swim at this year’s Rio Olympics.
Records also fell in the in the women’s non-wetsuit solo category with Edie Hu of the USA finishing in 4:47:40 and in all seven of the relay categories.
Meanwhile, Hungarian swimmer Attila Manyoki led the non-wetsuit swimmers home in a time of 4:26:03, which fell just short of Ned Denison’s course record of 4:18:33. Manyoki, 42, is the current Molokai Channel record holder and was using the swim as preparation for his attempt at the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland later this year.