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Hong Kong para sailors and runners tackle unique Four Peaks race

by Mark Agnew, SCMP 1 Feb 22:25 PST 3-4 February 2023
Mo Han (Solaris 40) raced in the RHKYC Around the Island Race. Next up: ABC Four Peaks Race © Guy Nowell / RHKYC

A team of para sailors and runners are set to take on Hong Kong’s Four Peaks Race, as they sail across the region and run up and down some of the city’s most challenging mountains.

During next weekend’s Solaris Four Peaks Race (4-5 February), teams will sail from Hong Kong Island to Sai Kung. They then drop anchor and put runners ashore to scale Ma On Shan (702m), and starting, of course, at sea level. They then sail back and send two runners ashore to run up Violet Hill (433m) behind Repulse Bay. The teams sail from there to Lantau and hike up the highest peak in Hong Kong – Lantau Peak (934m) – and back to Lamma Island to hike up Mount Stenhouse (353m) before making their way to the finish line near Repulse Bay. All in all, around 95nm of sailing, much of it overnight.

“[It is an] iconic challenge which is considered to be one of the most arduous sailing races in Asia,” said Barry Hill, Vice Commodore of Aberdeen Boat Club.

On board skipper and Solaris dealer Enrico Zanella, and para sailors Foo Yuen-wai, Puk Chi-yeung, Leung Wun-wa, and Sylvia Leung Yuk-chun. They will be joined by runners Fred Vaudaine, David Bridge, Sunny Law, and Wong Chun Kiu, who will accompany the para-runners Cheng Yue Choong (deaf) and Fung Kam Hung (amputee). Also on board will be crew carer and Sailability founder Kay Rawbone.

Their boat, the Mo Han, was donated to the charity by Hong Kong’s famous business magnate Li Ka-shing. Usually, Sailability focuses on dinghy sailing with solo or two sailors on board. “I think it’s more than one step up. I think it’s several steps up. But also, I think it actually promotes teamwork for many on our boats,” Rawbone said.

Hill, who also works with Sailability, added, “Teamwork is the is the key to this. To actually sail a big boat safely, at night, and in what can be at this time of year quite challenging conditions. There are 12 people on the boat, two of whom are in wheelchairs. There’s a lot of things that have to happen or to be coordinated.”

For Rawbone, this is an incredible step in Sailability’s history. She founded the charity with her husband Michael in 2009. Initially, they supported people with learning disabilities such as autism. In 2013, the charity started helping parasailors too. Now, they are the leading charity for handicapped sailors in Asia and one of the leading in the world. Right now, the immediate challenge is the Four Peaks Race. “They’re just so excited,” Rawbone added. “They’re not nervous. They’re just excited.”

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