Our Saturday was an exciting first day of racing. After our first race around 11am, the team was all pumped up. Several rookies said “I want to do that again.” They really caught “Dragon Fever” that carried over to the entire team. In the afternoon we raced the Taiwanese Boat that featured somebody standing at the front of the boat behind the dragon head, but in front of the drummer… reaching out to grab a flag before crossing the finish line. Thank you to Judi Letawsky for stepping in to be a flag grabber!
We also did a “barrel race” racing around 3 different designated floats simulating a chuck wagon racing around barrels in a rodeo. The trick was to make your turns as tight as possible. We closed off the day by doing a blindfolded race (yes paddling 500m with a blindfold) – we visualized we were Luke (Use the Force) Skywalker. Then some paddlers helped to take members of the public out paddling… This is the only festival that invites members of the public to try out a dragon boat.
For Sunday Morning: We recognized the Church of Dragon Boating! We gathered our dragon boat team brothers and sisters together, and demonstrated a spirit lifting… It was the ritual of lifting a team mate up in the air with only ONE finger. Our drummer Doug, lay down on the ground on his back, and every team member surrounded him and placed one finger beneath his body, which represented our dragon boat. Each finger represented one paddle, and together, each paddle would move the boat. After repeating affirmations: “I believe in you and me, I believe in us and we, One finger, One paddle, One boat, One team. Doug is going to the sky, our boat is going to fly fly fly.”
On a count, we lifted Doug up into the air and above our heads. We shouted “I believe!” and we rejoiced in the raising of our spirits!
Next came our Rec D semi final race.
We made it to the medal round for D division. This is the 4th group of 7 teams out our 28 teams total. In our morning race, we went head to head with the Nancy Lord Momentum team (formerly University Women's Team) which has paddled for many years… We were both behind the Strathcona Dragaons Junior team, and so we were paddling for 2nd place to go to the medal round. We edged them out by one second. WOW! What a race…. side by side the entire time. They had a better start then we did, but we caught up to them by the mid point, and pulled ahead slightly at the finish.
In our 2nd race of the day – for the medals at 2:10 in the afternoon. We raced against Strathcona Dragons (a junior team), Eh Team (a seniors team) and Naluwaan II. Both Strathcona and the Eh Team have been practicing probably since early March… Naluwan had 6 practices for a brand new team with maybe 6 people who had paddled in last year's race. CSL/Gung Haggis had a boatload of 10 rookies with only an average of 4 practices ever in a dragon boat, supplemented with 8 experienced paddlers.
Strathcona took an early lead, followed by the Eh Team… CSL/Gung Haggis trailed slightly after the start to Naluwan. But unlike a practice race we did with Naluwan two Sundays' previous, we did not easily overtake them. At the midpoint we still trailed after catching up to them… at the finish, our team surged to catch up to them. But didn't have enough… Naluwan caught the flag, then crossed the finish line just ahead of us… A very good close race.
I am very proud of the accomplishments of the combined Centre for Spiritual Living / Gung Haggis Fat Choy team. Everybody pitched in to help. They demonstrated a shared value of unselfishness and good hearts. The team looked after each other, with veterans supporting and setting examples for the rookies. It was a terrific blend of two teams, and again I cannot express my gratefulness to be blessed coaching and befriending such wonderful human beings.
A special thank you to our paddling friends from the Spirit of Vancouver Team: Tom, Jerry, Janice, Brenda: + Sha-wa and Jeremy from Saints Preserve Us
To Rev. Candace, Chip, Ernie, Judy, Sharon, Marlene, Laura, Sean, Dawn, Helen, Louise, Paul, Kai, Kristine, Naoko, Mio, Tom, Nick, Dave, Doug and Bob – I salute you all!
Peace & Blessings, Todd