July 9th – Gung Haggis dragon boat team practice:
preparation for races in Kent WA
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is getting ready to go to Kent/Seattle dragon boat races, just south of Sea Tac airport on Lake Meridien. It is part of Cornucopia Days in Kent WA.
We had a mix of veteran paddlers, rookies, and brand new beginners. A full boat of 23 paddlers… okay… a wee bit heavy. It was important to prepare the team for the races in Kent WA, for next week, so we started off with some warm-up, then did a 500m race piece. It was a little bit ragged, so we did some exercises for timing and technique, before working on our starts, and finishing off on another race piece.
The Cornucopia Days festival has a real small-town America feel to it. The streets are closed off.and stalls lined the curbs. There is music, and amusement park rides. The bars are open, and so is the beer garden. There is no great variety of multicultural music, arts and culture like in Canada… but there generally is classic rock and roll, country music and an Elvis impersonator or two.
I really like the races on Lake Meridien. It's a nice civilized lake, that has become gentrified – surrounded by former “resort homes” as urban sprawl spread south of Seattle and into the town of Kent. From it's inception in 2001, the Kent dragon boat race has tried to follow IDBF format. In 2001, there were 250m sprint and 1000 distance races, in addition to the 500m standard race length. The first year, I went down to volunteer for the False Creek Women's team, assisting coach Andre Dillon with keeping track of race times, and stopwatch timing. The FC Women went to Kent to try out the new BuK dragon boats that would also be used in the World Championships in Philadelphia the next month.
In 2002, I went down with 3 new dragon boat paddlers to teach them the fine art of “dragon boat slutting.” I knew that there would be a few teams short of paddlers, and wasn't about to let the lack of a dragon boat team get in my way of racing.
No sooner than I had checked in with the race registrar who gave me the name of the Multnohmah Canoe Club, which was short of paddlers, when I bump into Joe from the Tacoma Dragon Boat Association.
“Hi Todd, who are you paddling with?”
“Nobody yet… I came down on my own…”
“Well step over her, our coach Clem would sure like to talk with you,” Joe welcomed me.
I had met the Tacoma DBA, the previous year at the Seattle Cancer Survival Dragon Boat Race on Lake Washington the year before, and began the start of a beautiful friendship with the team and organization. That day, I raced for a gold medal in the finals, as the Tacoma DBA placed 1st overall. My paddling friends from Vancouver, all declared medals at the border, as the Multnohmah Canoe Club also medaled in the Recreation Divison.
Looks like Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team will have a lot to live up to next week on July 15th, when we race on Lake Meridien.