Table Tennis Competition on board

Table tennis competition

During long passages across the oceans of the world, seafarers have the time to enjoy at least 3-4 spare hours every day and do the things they like most. Some of them prefer to spend their evening time watching movies in their cabins or in the common areas while others enjoy different and more exciting activities like video games, chess, backgammon, darts or table tennis. After all, being on a vessel doesn’t mean that you have to work 24/7 because you have a fixed schedule of work and resting hours and everybody is entitled to have a few hours of leisure time every day. It is true that during the busy hours of cargo operations almost everybody forgets about leisure activities and all the spare time is spent resting, but when the vessel is smoothly sailing on the vast oceans of the world, after doing the duty watch and required working hours, all the seamen have the right to enjoy a nice and relaxed evening.

Except reading, taking photos and watching movies, playing table tennis is another activity I really enjoy when I am on the vessel. Most of the time, I play with my husband after dinner. There are at least 3-4 good players on every vessel and playing a double game is always fun and challenging. The more players involved, the most interesting the evening becomes as everybody tries his/her best in order to keep his/her place at the table and not being replaced by another player. Because practice always makes better, I am quite amazed by the progresses players are making after playing regularly for one or two months.

And nothing fits more perfectly in this scenario, than a Table Tennis  Championship. The most important part of this Championship are the competitors. If there are only 3-4 players on board, a competition is surely out of the question, but with a number greater than 6, a real championship can take place with all the necessary arrangements and regulations. All you need is the approval of the master and the support of your fellow seamen to start and organize such an event. It would be even more interesting and challenging if some prizes are put at stake and some of the non-playing members of the crew assist at the games as referees or cheerleaders.

I organized the first Tennis Table Championship on board HS Bach, in October 2013. I was one of the competitors, but also a referee for the rest of the games. Although I didn’t make it to the semifinals, I really enjoyed the games and watching the final was very exciting. In the end, after the first 4 players got their presents (t-shirts and some drinks for the after party), I really wanted to award each competitor with a small gift – for their courage and commitment- and I offered each of them a small crochet made star to hang in their Christmas Trees.

Table tennis Championship in board HS Bach

Although everybody agreed that the competition was a real success, I knew that I had to improve things for the next competition to make the games even more challenging and the show a little more exciting for the audience.

So, when the opportunity came for me to organize a new table tennis competition on board HS Debussy, I was more than happy to start with the preparations.

Only few days after arriving on the vessel I noticed that there were some very good players on board and we soon started to play at least for one hour every day – during the 12 day crossing across the Atlantic. We kept on playing even when the rolling was about 10-15 degrees and, although we became a little dizzy in the end, we never complained. In the last month we took our practice more seriously and we spent many hours in the Gym, especially after dinner, playing simple and double games between us, always having a lot of fun, but also getting better and better every day.

We all agreed to have a table tennis competition and we decided to place the competition one week before arriving in Europe, as two of our very good players were to sign off from the vessel, after they completed their contracts.

With the prizes being bought in advance, the equipment prepared and every body on board announced – the competition started last Friday and involved 9 competitors.

Few hours before the event began, the ‘arena’ was properly cleaned and nicely arranged to welcome the competitors and fans. During the games, water and soft drinks were served – thanks to our ‘sponsors’, the HS Company.


The games for qualifications took place in two days – Friday and Saturday – bringing together all the competitors who played 2 out of 3 game matches against each other.

HS Debussy Table tennis Championship (1)



On Sunday, the semifinals started at 3 p.m. and the results brought up the biggest surprise of the competition with our engine cadet, Goran, winning the 3rd place, after proving his real talent and skills in all the games (winning against Captain, me and also against the favourite of the competition).

HS Debussy Table tennis Championship (2)

The final was very interesting and both players proved they really deserved their places, but, as everybody suspected from the beginning, the winner was not a surprise. Our electrician cadet, Ivan, was awarded the first prize and everybody agreed that he was the best. He lost only one game out of ten and encouraged us all to keep on practicing and improving ourselves for the coming competitions. The first time I played with him, I knew that he was the best tennis player on board and winning even a single set against him would be a great achievement – which I haven’t accomplished so far.

HS Debussy Table tennis Championship (3)

In the end, the prizes and diplomas were awarded and many photos were taken. Our engine cadet, Goran – the surprise of the table tennis competition – received a special present which had to be improvised and made ad hoc, because he had not been taken into consideration when choosing the sizes of the t-shirts which were meant for the prizes. For this reason, one night before the semifinal, I had to make a crochet snowman which I offered him as a prize for the 3rd place. He was very happy for the gift, but his two year old baby girl will be even happier when she receives it.


I am glad I took part in this wonderful event which brought together more than half of the crew – some playing, others watching – for 3 hours every day during the week-end. I know they had fun during the competition – being directly involved or not at all – and, as our third officer noticed “everybody forgot about their work, problems and about homesickness for a few hours”.

After the final, a small party was organized in the Recreation Room with a delicious chocolate cake. The finalist was very anxious to share his winning bottle with us and we all raised our glasses for his health and glory.


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