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Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

June 22, 2012 2 comments

photo by Ildikó Tóth

My first ever dragon boat race was Alcan in 2011. It was an amazing introduction and I couldn’t wait to return this year. Hosted at False Creek in Vancouver, BC Canada, Alcan is a very immersive dragon boat experience.

There were 96 Mixed Division (coed) teams. We were pleased to be ranked in Competitive B again this year.

photo by Ildikó Tóth

The Racer’s Village is an amazing site. There are hundreds of teams in the village, camped out for the weekend. It is the ultimate tailgate party. I love walking through the isles of tents to see the great set-ups teams have. The women’s teams always seem to have the best catering! The blind teams have a great sense of humor. They have names like Vision: Impossible, Out of Sight Dragons, and Blind Ambition. They are a great inspiration to all paddlers.

photo by Tracy Ross

Every team has their warm up ritual. Some are very elaborate or intimidating. Others look like Jazzercise. The DJ keeps the beats going to make it fun.

photo by Tracy Ross

This year we were hosted by Dragon Hearts Ultimate. The Anniemaniacs hosted them last year at the Portland Dragon Boat Festival and plan to do so again this year. We’ve developed a nice relationship with them and they took fantastic care of us. They fed and watered us. They even invited us to dinner at a wonderful Asian grill.

photo by Annie Duong

2012 is the year 4709 by the Chinese calendar and the year of the Water Dragon. That was evident on Saturday. It rained All. Day. Long. We were freezing and miserable. We managed to keep our sense of humor and hunger to win even if we couldn’t keep dry.

photo by Tracy Ross

In our first heat we took first at 2:12.5 (500 m). Our second heat was against the other 1st place teams in earlier heats. We came in 5th at 2:17.46. I have no idea where we picked up that extra 5 seconds. The cold must have seeped into our bones. It was really disappointing.

photo by Ildikó Tóth

Sunday lived up to it’s name. there was a light drizzle in the morning followed by a beautiful day. We finished our first heat of the day in 4th place at 2:13.19. Our tiller actually had to slow us down at the finish to keep from tipping in the wake. 4th wasn’t great, but the time showed that we were getting back on track. We enjoyed lunch together in the festival food court and fueled up for the final battle: Comp B finals.

Sticky rice with ground pork + Jamaican Island Mix smoothie = YUM!

Annie gave us a fantastic pep talk. “This is why we come to Alcan,” she said. We had fresh memories of what it felt like to stop at border control on the way home and reply, “Yes, we do have something to declare–VICTORY!” as we held up our Comp B 3rd place medals in 2011. We felt like we had something to prove and were eager to race.

photo by Ildikó Tóth

As we approached the start line there was a strong tail wind and all of the teams had difficulty holding the boats. We struggled to gain alignment, then Madam Racecaller asked us to reset the start to keep things fair. It was very frustrating to circle all of the boats back around again. It’s like loading horses into the starting gate, then saying, “Oh, they aren’t straight, let’s take them all out and reload.” You can imagine what that does to your adrenaline. We finally achieved alignment and we were off.

The Portland Fire Dragons blew away the rest of the field with a time of 2:00.00. The rest of the finishers were in tight competition and it was impossible to know our place. We finished seven of eight in Comp B at 2:05.48, making us the 15th best team of 96. Not too shabby, though it was a drop from 11th last year. To demonstrate how tight the field was:

Making Comp B also qualified us for Guts & Glory, a 2000 m race with 3 turns. There are no medals for Guts-n-Glory, only bragging rights. It is a staggered-start race with the last place team in Comp B starting first, and the first place team in Comp A starting last. Each boat is timed individually. “Like Nascar, only with boats.” one of my teammates said. We got to start second, won the right of way on the first turn, blew past the first boat after the second turn, and took a definitive lead to cross the finish line first. We finished 3rd of the Comp B teams, 10th over all, and we were faster than one of the Comp A teams! Not too shabby indeed.

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Dragon Boat Israel on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)

May 19, 2012 1 comment

I had to share this post from Dragon Boat Israel. It looks like it was truly an Awesome Day. I wish I could have been there.

Rainier Dragon Boat Festival

May 17, 2012 3 comments

I’m kind of  a sad panda this week. The first ever Dragon Boat Israel Festival is underway with races May 17-18. I came back to the US 16 days too early to participate. My winter was spent paddling with a wonderful team of cancer survivors–I’m not one, but they welcomed me anyway. They will compete this weekend and my heart will be with them in the boat.

As a consolation prize, I did make it home just in time to race with the Anniemaniacs at the Rainier Dragon Boat Festival. I was ready to get out there for a real competition. Our rival teams had been lovingly taunting us and turning down invitations to race on practice nights, so we were ready to mop up.

We won our first heat with a time of 02:13:04 (for 500m). We were feeling good and working well as a team at our first race of the season.

We took second in the second heat, even though we’d shaved off 0.5 second to finish  at 02:12:34. The competition was getting better, but placement in the finals would depend on overall time, not wins.

In the semifinals, we won the race by a few boat lengths. That’s us below way ahead of the pack.

We thought we’d cinched a spot in the finals and were feeling pretty awesome about ourselves.

We got off the boat and went straight to check the standings. The wind and current had picked up considerably so we took a hit on our time finishing at 02:20:81. Yikes! We hoped the other boats would have this problem. They did, but we were in for a shock. We’d missed qualifying for the finals by 0.07 second! Two teams we’d beat earlier in the day made it. We were dismayed. Dragon boat can be a harsh mistress.

No matter what, we came together as a team and performed. We were certainly missing some key paddlers and I’m sure that made a difference. But now we are good and mad and hungry for a medal. Our next competition is Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver, BC Canada. We will be ready.

Home Safe and Settling In

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment

…or, more accurately hitting the ground running. I owe you guys some updates, but my to-do list is still a mile long. I jumped right back in to dragon boat last week with the Anniemaniacs, attended a Winterhawks playoff game, subbed for the neighborhood softball team, and headed to Tacoma, WA for the Rainier Dragon Boat Festival. I’ll post more on the race later, but here’s a photo by the wonderful Stacey Ross to hold you over. Check out Mt. Rainier in the background and oh yes, that’s our boat waaay out in front of the pack. 🙂

Dragon Boat Racing on the Sea of Galilee

March 20, 2012 5 comments

Lake Kinneret (aka the Sea of Galilee) was the backdrop for Dragon Boat Israel’s first official event this weekend. It was a mini-regatta and kind of a test-run for the Israel Dragon Boat Festival in May 2012.

I paddled with an amazing team of breast cancer survivors. We’ve been training all winter to prepare for the Israel Dragon Boat Festival.

We finished second overall. Since our family will be returning to the States before the May festival, my teammates talked the organizer into giving me an honorary medal for helping to develop the team. It was a wonderful surprise. I’m going to miss them so much!

Liam came with Stace and my parents. We spent the entire weekend in the North seeing Tiberias and Rosh Pina, then Rosh Hanikra and Haifa on the way home.

Israel Dragon Boat Championship

September 23, 2011 7 comments

I have ten new sisters. Their names are Merion, Chen, Raz, Orly, Miri R., Miri S., Michal, Tiv, Sarah, and Dana. These are remarkable women who came together as a rag-tag team. Only 3 of us had ever paddled a dragon boat before. In just two practices we were able to keep time fairly well. Together as the Dragon Angels, we won the gold medal in the Women’s Division of the first Israel Dragon Boat Championship at Daniel Rowing Centre (DRC) today. VIDEO

My friends know what a passion I have for dragon boating. I only started this spring, but I’m 100% in love. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go to Israel, but it broke my heart to miss the Portland and San Francisco races with my team in the US, the Anniemaniacs.

I contacted DRC weeks before we left to see if I could find a team to paddle with. Dragon boating is so new in Israel that they didn’t really have established teams that practice regularly. Nava at DRC told me about the Festival and Championship. It was happening just two weeks after I was to arrive in Israel.  Thanks to her guidance, translations, and kind heart I was able to race today.

I never would have survived the first practice without Raz. She is also an experienced dragon boat paddler. She paddled in Singapore, where dragon boat is basically a religious experience. The practices were run in Hebrew.  Since I only know a couple dozen w

ords and phrases so far, it was pretty stressful for me. Talk about full immersion! Raz translated instructions on the fly and even translated/transliterated the calls and the team emails for me. She is a rock star!

For those from the dragon boat world, you will be amazed to know that every race ran on time. They said the festival would end at 2:00 and it was over by 1:45. Israelis can be incredibly efficient. This is also very impressive considering this was their first festival at the centre.

I wore my medal to lunch with Stace and our friends Bob and Fara (also expats and part of our “Israel Family). I was stopped by a guy who asked about my medal. We ended up having mutual friends on the Haifa Lions dragon boat team (who I hope to paddle with in May on the Sea of Galilee if we are still here). Israel is such a small world!

Below is a Google translation of this post. I can’t vouch for it’s accuracy.

יש לי עשרה אחיות חדשות. שמותיהם Merion, חן, רז, אורלי, מירי ר ‘, ס’ מירי, מיכל, טיב, שרה, דנה. אלו הן נשים מדהים שבא יחד כצוות סמרטוט-תג. רק 3 מאיתנו היה פעם סירה וחתרו דרקון לפני. ב רק שני אימונים הצלחנו לשמור על זמן טוב למדי. יחד כמו המלאכים הדרקון, זכינו במדליית זהב חטיבת הנשים של אליפות הספינה הראשונה הדרקון ישראל במרכז דניאל לחתירה (DRC) היום.החברים שלי יודעים מה יש לי תשוקה עבור שיט הדרקון. אני רק החלה באביב הזה, אבל אני 100% אהבה. לא יכולתי לסרב לה הזדמנות לנסוע לישראל, אבל זה שבר לי את הלב להחמיץ את פורטלנד וסן פרנסיסקו גזעים עם הצוות שלי בארצות הברית, Anniemaniacs.יצרתי קשר עם DRC שבועות לפני שעזבנו כדי לראות אם אני יכול למצוא צוות לחתור עם.הדרקון שיט הוא כל כך חדש בישראל כי הם לא באמת הקימו צוותים להתאמן באופן סדיר. נאוה ב DRC סיפר לי על פסטיבל ועל האליפות. זה קורה רק שבועיים אחרי שהייתי להגיע לישראל.בזכות ההדרכה שלה, תרגומים, והלב סוג הצלחתי במירוץ היום.אני אף פעם לא היה שורד את הפרקטיקה הראשונה בלי רז. היא גם מנוסה השייט בסירה הדרקון. היא חתרה בסינגפור, שם הסירה הדרקון הוא בעצם חוויה דתית. פרקטיקות היו לרוץ עברית. מאז אני יודע רק כמה עשרותords וביטויים עד כה, זה היה די מלחיץ עבורי. מדברים על טבילה מלא! רז מתורגם ההוראות על לטוס ותורגם גם / בתעתיק קורא מיילים ואת צוות בשבילי. היא כוכבת רוק!לאלו מן העולם סירה דרקון, אתה תופתע לדעת כי כל גזע רץ על הזמן. הם אמרו הפסטיבל יסתיים בשעה 02:00 וזה היה על ידי 01:45. הישראלים יכולים להיות יעיל להפליא. זה גם מרשים מאוד בהתחשב שזה היה הפסטיבל הראשון שלהם במרכז.לבשתי מדליה שלי לארוחת צהריים עם סטייס ובוב חברינו פרא (גם לגולים וחלק משפחה “ישראל שלנו). עצר אותי בחור ושאל על המדליה שלי. אנחנו בסופו של דבר שיש חברים משותפים על צוות האריות דרקון סירה חיפה (אשר אני מקווה ההנעה עם מאי על הכנרת אם אנחנו עדיין כאן). ישראל היא כמו עולם קטן!