Being appointed as the South African Team Manager for the ISA Stand Up and Paddleboard Championships in Wanning China is a huge honour.
Over the last 28 years of my life I have travelled to over 65 countries in the world on various trips and have had many moments that have felt like something out of the movie lost in translation, but I must say our arrival in Hong Kong certainly takes the cake.
Travelling with a large amount of luggage and sporting equipment at any time is challenging and can be stressful but travelling with SUP and Prone Boards that are over 3.6m takes this experience to the next level.
Our first two flights were pretty uneventful and then we arrived 4 hours before our next flight to Haikou from Hong Kong and that’s when the challenges began. We were blessed to get all 8 SUP Surfboards check in within 1 hour BUT then the night mare of getting our one Race Board and Prone Board began. 3 hours of negotiating and trying to communicate with the language barrier we discovered there was no way the boards could get on the plane. Having checked all in advance and sending NUMEROUS emails to check they understood the size we did not win.
Fortunately one of our athletes had a friend in Hong Kong and Dave (coach) and Rory (athlete) stayed on for the night to try and get the boards sorted. It turns out nothing is allowed on the roof racks on cars so we had to hire a Truck to transport the boards to this friends high rise apartment and Dave and Rory had to check into a backpackers for the night.
The nightmare of trying to get these boards here has continued and we are still trying to get the boards here. Being the OCD person I am, I am struggling to understand how there are no pre organised solutions for this as a number of teams have experienced the same issues.
On a positive note there has as in true South African style been loads of laughter and good team spirit regardless. We have not allowed this to dampen the spirits and have been offered a board from the British Team for the Prone Race and are waiting for confirmation from the New Zealand Team on if they are able to let us use their DEEP board for the race which will help our athlete greatly.
All athletes and Teams have been extremely helpful and are doing their best to help us resolve our issue. The first few days consisted of some training, gym sessions and acclimatisation.
Yesterday was the opening ceremony procession across Riyue Bay to the Surf Competition zone. The men’s surfing kicked off with both Tom King and Matt Maxwell proceeding through the Heat to the second round.
As a team we have had a great time with lots of Team Spirit, commitment and very much appreciated support from back home. We look forward to a great day a head with the Women’s Surf and the Men’s next heats.