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Olympia Dragon Boat Race 2011

Sunday, May 01, 2011
Well, I was just up in Olympia, WA for a day to attend the Saint Martin's University Dragon Boat Festival and participate in the races there. Astute readers might recall that, toward the end of 2010, I started Dragonboating and joined Team Shibumi - I even, after just two practices, participated in the Row for the Cure.

This year it's different. Having been practicing for months now, I'm in a much better position to be able to sit on the boat and have an idea of what I'm supposed to do. I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm good at it, but, with the practice I've had, I'm not bad at it.

With that said, I was looking forward to the race in Olympia, our first official race of the season. The races were to be 250 meters long; short and fast, with no time for mid-race corrections. In the first race, the preliminary heat, our time wasn't bad, falling in around 1:22 or so. It was over before I even realized it had began. After the bullhorn, we all paddled furiously but, given unfamiliarity with the location and a different type of boat, we placed 3rd. With only eight teams in our division, and with the other heat going slower than us, 3rd wasn't bad.

That's our Dragon Boat.  Thanks, Wendy!

I should talk at some point about the differences between the race in Olympia and the practice in Portland. First the boats are different. The boats up there are smaller, narrower, sit very low to the water, and tend to want to tip easily when the boat's not moving quickly. Water spilled in over the side of the boat more than once during pre and post-race maneuvering. Secondly, we're at the southern end of the Puget Sound, which is a salt-water body, not a fresh-water body (sort of) like the Willamette River, which makes a difference. Finally, there were tides, which affected the race times depending on the time of day. For our first race of the season with several new people on the boat, the time wasn't bad.

In the second heat, we placed third again. Our time improved by 4-5 seconds to 1:18-ish or so, but that wasn't much compared to some of the other teams, one of which had knocked 29 seconds off its initial race time! We were anxiously checking the posted time for our division, to see if we held our place in the top 4. After some calculations and deliberating, we found that we'd just barely made it, and were the fourth boat in our division championship.

Medals are cool.

The championship race was rough. Our starts were getting better, but the races are still short and there's no room to make up for a mis-step. We paddled hard and stayed focus, but alas, we still came in fourth, several seconds behind the other three boats, who had finished in a neck-and-neck race. Funny thing: after the first two races I was fine, but after the last race I was tired. We docked the boat and climbed out.

As we were packing up, while we weren't on the podium for our fourth-place finish, we still earned a championship medal, which, in all honesty, was good enough for me. Time to start practicing for the next one!


Blogger Danny said...

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2:00 AM, July 26, 2021  

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