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Rainier Dragon Boat Race 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012
This past weekend I attended the Rainier Dragon Boat Race up in Tacoma, WA, with the Bridge City Paddling Club. (The astute reader might note that I was paddling with Shibumi last year; we're more of an outrigger team now after a disappointing race season, and I'm doing the dragon boat thing with Bridge City.)

The Bridge City Paddle Club Gold boat - and I didn't take this picture.  Credit to them at http://washingtondragonboat.org/events/2012-rainier-dragon-boat-festival.html

We went up north with enough people to fill two boats. Having been divided into "fast" and "else", I was on the "else" boat. My feelings on that can be discussed at a different point in time. We went in with a strong, fast attitude, and left humbled by our lackluster on-the-water performance.

How were our results?
First race: 2:24 - for some on my boat, the first race they'd ever paddled in. We came in fourth.
Second race: 2:21 - we locked in our timing and were making considerable improvements. We came in third against fast teams.
Third race: 2:34 - the tide shifted; all teams were slower, but our boat felt particularly slow. This was the race we needed to win, and we came in third.

I'm tired of losing. As the salt-water spray hit me in the face, and I struggled to watch and match the timing of the paddle in front of me, I couldn't completely ignore the boat next door pulling away from us and feeling our boat rock in their wake. That feeling, that I was putting my all into this thing and not making the headway our rivals were, was terrible.

I'll say this about the venue, however. They made a schedule and stuck to it. Races happened quickly, and the dock was arranged in such a way that they could marshall, load, and unload the boats with great efficiency. I was impressed. I was less impressed, however, by the lack of divisions they had. That is, with 25+ teams of varying casual-ness, only the top three would win a medal. There was no competition among the slower boats, except as fodder for the faster teams. I didn't like that part so much.

In the end, I only know that I have to work harder if I want to win... and I want, badly, to win.

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