Anna Fisher started rowing at university. She’s also an accomplished sailor and even represented Hong Kong at the 2018 Asian Games.
On November 15, 2020, Anna became the first woman to complete the 45km Around the Island Race organized by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. This impressive performance was achieved on a Liteboat LR1X to the delight of the team, who took care to follow Anna on her adventure.
Hello Anna, first of all congratulations on this achievement! Can you tell us a little more about the ATIR, this legendary race, well known in Hong Kong?
Thank you very much! The ATIR is one of the oldest rowing events in Asia, 116 years old I think! It’s an annual race in HK and is one of the largest rowing events we have too. It’s very popular and attracts a lot of rowers because every year is different, you have no idea what the conditions will be like on the day, and it’s always a surprise! Also you can choose how you want to challenge yourself – either by doing the relay, where 2 teams complete half of the island each, or you can choose to do the whole distance! Either way, you get to experience and see HK Island in a way most people won’t be able to!
How do you prepare physically and mentally for this type of race?
Knowing that you had a well-defined goal and that you were hugely followed and expected. I think it helped that I had done this race a couple of times before so I knew that it was going to be more rough in places, and that it was definitely going to take some time! Haha! Physically I did a lot of training in the gym, on water, and on the rowing machine. Gym was for increasing strength, on water training to get used to coastal conditions, and the rowing machine for getting used to longer periods of time sitting down and doing the rowing motion over and over again. Honestly, it added pressure to myself to have so many people in anticipation of my race but it also helped to relieve stress to know that so many people supported me and would be there for me at the finish line too. I’m very grateful for that and definitely helped my mentality throughout the race.
It’s not the first time that you’ve taken part in this race, however it’s the first time that you’ve done it solo on a Liteboat LR1X. How did you feel on the water?
Rowing in a quad (4 person boat) was so much easier than in a single that’s for sure! The conditions for 2020 were some of the worst we’ve ever had for ATIR, some say maybe even the worst. I think the race officials were borderline about cancelling the race too. And that’s also pretty much how it felt on the water. At times it was OK, it was hard but rowable, you just had to focus on doing it one stroke at a time, knowing that you will finish at some point… And at times the wind was so strong (we had 25knot+ gusts), I just had to stop and wait a bit because it would’ve hurt my back if I tried to power through it.
Photos: Colin Lee
Is the LiteRACE 1X a boat that you could recommend to a competitor or an avid performance enthusiast?
I think it’s important to note that I come from a fine rowing background, on rivers and flat water etc. So yes, for sure I would recommend LR1X but probably more for light wind and wave conditions. It was a real shame that the weather for ATIR was in such contrast to previous training sessions with LR1X – I could really feel myself surfing waves and it felt like the coastal version of a fine rowing boat. We did a debrief after the race and came to the conclusion that I was probably too light for this boat on race day. This meant that I couldn’t quite cut through waves and the wind blew me around the course easily, making it harder to keep the direction I wanted to be in. All the faster boats were sat with heavyweight crew, average weight 80-90kg (I’m 67kg in comparison). Despite the horrific conditions though, the LR1X was a stable boat to row in, and I wasn’t too worried about capsizing, which was one of the most important things I was worried about – After the race I heard that a few of the doubles had capsized during!
What are your future projects and what can we wish you for the rest of your adventures?
I’m moving to France and looking forward to whatever opportunities I can find there! Very excited for a chance to meet the people behind Liteboat :) Would be amazing if I could row in one again! Hopefully the waters of France will be nicer to me than HK… haha! Other than that, I’m also planning on competing in the World Master Championships to be held in Austria in late 2021. Thank you for your kind wishes!
Thank you very much Anna for the time granted, congratulations again and we look forward to meeting you in France soon.
Photos: Colin Lee