Monday, April 13, 2009

Kapas - Marang Report : My Thoughts.


Sound simple enough. Island to Mainland. Straight line. How to miss it?

Ingredient was simple enough. Open sea swim as the main item. Add in being alone in the sea to marinade it a bit, undulating waves to add some salt, being alone for garnishing and just for good luck, loads of sea current to sweeten things up.

It was a perfect combination for a good open sea swim.

And what was 6.5km, felt like it was 8km, for me at least.

The day started great, but noticeably missing was the dead calm sea you usually see early in the morning where the waves sweep the shoreline gently.

Myself, Shazly, Azmar and Upiq were swimmer designate and Kam was kayaker to escort Upiq in his maiden attempt.

I secretly feel that Kam should escort me too, but it is only 6.5km...should be simple enough for a two time IronMan finisher like that consistently covered 3.8km in 1:30. Technically, it shouldn't take me more than 3 hours. Right?


Dead Wrong.

Not when the above ingredients were mixed in a large bowl known as South China Sea and weather and sea condition changes more often than Anwar changes his numbers of (supposedly) frogs.

I was told by more experienced racer that the current will always be a challenge. So, i was told to target a mountain beyond the horizon (Kam call it Mt. Fuji, for it did resemble the mountain, minus the snow cap), which is on the right hand side of the landing point. From afar, Mt Fuji and landing point looked like it is a good 2km apart.

Click to see in details

Simple. Target to navigate identified, easily viewed eventhough if one were to be under the waves.

At 7.33am, the guns went off and everyone ran into the water and started swimming. There were close to 220 swimmers, we were told by Mr. Chan during the briefing a day before and there will be 6 bouys to mark the distance (every 1KM). But somehow, the bouys all went missing the morning of the race. Nothing was left except one large bouy to mark 6km (you can only see it if you squint your eyes and concentrate - not something you will do when swimming and being thrown in the water).

"Don't worry, there is a BIG BALLOON you all can see!", Mr. Chan says.

My first 90minutes of swim went pretty well. Mt Fuji was still the target i was heading for and i started to feel foolish to keep swimming towards that mountain as the landing point is a distance away.

But stayed on course i did. I was with Shazly briefly, swimming at his pace, following the bubbles from his kick.

Suddenly, i realised that Mt. Fuji was right behind the landing point. That was at hour number two.

I've drifted away. I looked behind and to my horror, Pulau Kapas, which should be technically behind me if i swim in a straight line, or on my left if i have my bearings correct, were on my RIGHT! I am 45 degrees off!

You know you are in trouble if the island is on your 3 o'clock and not 6

What can one do?

I found myself swimming alone between Kapas and Mainland. No swimmer were in sight it seems. No Kayak (which i was told to have numbered in 50) were seen. Into my third hour, i saw the water scooter with the rescue personnels on it.

I swam towards them, the 20meters or so seems to take eternity.

I hanged on to them so i could clear my goggles.

"arus tahun ini kuat sangat", One of them said. (This year's current very strong)
"ramai dah terpesong kat sebelah tu", he added (a lot drifted to the other side)

They pointed towards the south, towards the more open water of South China Sea, away from the landing point.

I was then instructed to swim at 45 degree towards the shore line. I was already in the water for 3 hours, and counting.

Fingers are all getting stiff, skin shrinking like raisins, balls had some chaffing (nope, no petroleum jelly ma'am) and my energy level were dead low.

I wanted to vomit twice. I swallowed enough of seawater that i peed a full 60seconds after the race. My throat were tasting funny, my stomach threatening to spill it's content. For you that do not know, i have motion sickness. I took 2 motion sickness pills prior to the race, which most probably saved me.

But that did not prevent me from feeling all bleachy...(i'm still having the waves movement in my head now, by the way).

The last hour to shore was demoralising. You are still alone out there. No one in sight. The HUGE baloon still looked tiny. The shore still looked a distance.

I thought about quitting. But that's not me. Pulling up whatever i have left, i splashed through the water, i kick for my life, i paddled with whatever my arms could churn.

I almost cried when i reached shore.

SK and Azmar made it in 3hours. It took me another good hour before i managed to come to the shore.

You can see from the pic above that Kapas is NOT directly behind me even as i exited the water and the photo was taken skewed to the island.

I reckon i did at least a 8km swim.

I got more than what i bargained for.

And i'm just glad i survived this.

Congrats and well done to all that even had a guts to start it yesterday. It certainly not an easy show.

Not for me anyway.

By the way, here is Mr. Chan's HUGE balloon.

How i managed to use this to guide me to the landing point, remains a mystery


  1. Hi my name is haniff. Sorry my english not good. I just learn swimming years ago. And I would like to test my swimming skill in kapas marang challenge next year.

    My question is . Training do u train before goibg to kapas marang. Where did u train? Thanks appreciate yoyr answer


  2. Haniff - Orang Malaysia no problem kita berbahasa malaysia. Jangan pressure nak guna Bahasa Ingeris.

    Sekitar dua tiga tahun itu saya ada menyertai acara triathlon Ironman yang melibatkan aktiviti berenang sejauh 3.8km. Untuk latihan, saya banyak berenang di kolam renang. Untuk acara endurance sebegini, penting untuk memastikan badan Haniff untuk berada di dalam air untuk masa yang lama.

    Nasihat saya adalah untuk berlatih strok seperti kuak dada dan juga kuak lentang (amat berguna ketika letih). Kuak bebas juga perlu di modifikasi untuk memastikan setiap strok adalah efisen.

  3. Terima kasih encik kerana membalas soalan saya walaupun saya tak berapa paham inggeris saya.

  4. Mohon kepada encik supaya sekiranya dapat perincikan sedikit tentang latihan supaya saya dapat menambahkan ilmu dan latihan saya sebelum ke kapas marang swimathon.

    Untuk makluman encik. Saya baru sahaja berlatih renangan di kolam renang bandar tun razak. Renangan saya sangat teruk tapi sayaberjaya habiskan renangan saya untuk permulaan ini sejam 2000 . Selain dari itu saya berlari 12km seminggu sekali dan 6 km 2 kali seminggu. Selaun dari itu saya mengajak 3 orang kawan saya untuk menyertai pertandingan. Walaupun mereka 50/50.

    Soalan saya bagaimana latihan renajg encik di kolam dan darat?

  5. Haniff - running is most basic fitness regime. Kalau kau boleh clock in mileage untuk run, fitness level akan bertambah elok.

    Dengan fitness level yang lebih mantap, Haniff cuma perlu betulkan stroke swimming. Latih sekurang kurangnya 3 kali seminggu. Dulu masa buat persediaan Ironman, saya berenang tiap hari until 30-45minit.

    Lagi banyak Haniff berenang, lagi mudah badan belajar dan berada di posisi badan yang optimum. Penting juga konfiden dalam air. Kalau kolam renang penuh dengan orang, belajar untuk navigate kerana apabila berenang di lautan terbuka, memang tak nampak satu hapak pun...

  6. hanifnasir@yahoo.comDecember 14, 2012 9:43 AM

    tq tristupe. i had been reading yours & some other blogs until i was sane enough to follow your step. your willingness to share your yesteryears kapas marang experience had motivate some readers like me to try. as for example, this entry teach us how to spot that mount fuji. thank you very much tristupe

  7. already completed kapas marang 2010 & 2013. Looking forward for 2014 !

  8. Hinyuliang. where u always Swim ? Joining Kapas Marang 2018?

  9. Hi, good story. It will be my 6th participation this 2018. see you there!!

  10. Hi Guys,
    Well it looks like the organisers pick the date of the swim to coincide with a low -> high tide. This results in a southerly flowing ocean current with strength on the surface being inversely proportional to the depth.
    As you travel to the island in the morning you should see anchored vessels point northward as the sit in the southern flowing current.
    The advice to head towards "Mt. Fuji" is sound. Keep as due west of the island for as long as you can and then in the last third of the race you should be able to 'ride' the current to the finish.
    So to summarise you will swim west for the first two thirds then south-west in the last third of the race.

    Hope this helps,


    Hai semua,
    Nah kelihatan seperti penganjur memilih tarikh berenang untuk bertepatan dengan air pasang rendah ->. Ini mengakibatkan arus samudera mengalir di selatan dengan kekuatan pada permukaan yang berkadar songsang dengan kedalaman.
    Semasa anda pergi ke pulau pada waktu pagi, anda harus melihat kapal berlabuh menunjuk ke arah utara ketika duduk di arus selatan yang mengalir.
    Nasihat untuk menuju ke arah "Gunung Fuji" adalah bunyi. Teruskan sebagai pulau barat kerana selagi anda boleh dan kemudian pada perlumbaan ketiga yang terakhir, anda sepatutnya dapat 'menunggang' semasa sampai selesai.
    Jadi untuk meringkaskan anda akan berenang ke barat untuk dua pertiga pertama kemudian di barat daya pada pertiga terakhir perlumbaan.

    Harap ini membantu,