Alex Lever

News: ZOKE Around The Island Race

November 16, 2011 by Alex Lever
View large version of image: ZOKE Around The Island Race

On Sunday 20 November, Hong Kong will enjoy the spectacle of over 220 boats in the middle of Victoria Harbour preparing for a race around Hong Kong Island in what is surely Hong Kong’s biggest annual celebration of sail and paddle – the ZOKE Around the Island Race.

One of those sailors will be Lars Schkade (age 18) who will be tackling this challenge solo. “It is the course that makes the race so special. And I usually don’t sail through the harbour with a dinghy, which is a fantastic, but difficult experience” he says.

Last year Lars, then 17, was the first recipient of the Hayes-Morgan Trophy for the First Youth Sailor. Lars recalls “at first I was really surprised, because I did not know that there was a new trophy for the First Youth Sailor. But it was a great feeling winning a trophy in such a major event like the Zoke Around The Island Race.”

Schkade will again be sailing solo around Hong Kong Island in a 4.23m Laser Radial dinghy. This year however he has done less solo sailing in favour of double-handed dinghy sailing so he will need to quickly get used to being on his own again. He does however note “there are so many boats competing in the race, that you are never really alone and that there is always someone overtaking you.”

The biggest challenge for Schkade “will be the last part of the race, where the wind usually dies and the waves grow. I will have to work hard to keep my dinghy moving! It can also be difficult to stay in good wind, since there are many big yachts which produce massive wind shadows with their spinnakers.”

The young sailor is hoping the wind holds out; enough for him to finish the race but ideally to enable him “to get into the top 20”. Schkade is managing his expectations acknowledging “that this will be very difficult and that the conditions will have to be on my side.”

When we asked him who is biggest competition is he had a surprise answer “that would be myself! It will be really hard to force myself to stay focused and not to start day dreaming or thinking of being on a big yacht, on which you don’t feel every little wave.”

Lars is hoping he won’t take more than seven hours to complete the race but that all depends on the wind. He will only have water bottles and energy bars stuffed in a little bag tied to the mast to sustain him throughout the day.

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