Gung Haggis paddlers come third in the UBC Day of the Long Boat – the largest voyageur canoe race in the world!

It's the biggest voyageur canoe race in North
America… maybe the world!  300 teams in the UBC Day of the Long Boat at Jericho Beach.

Day of Longboats 34A ...2008 TW by you.Gung Haggis Fat Choy team paddles to the finish in the first Community Mens race of the day – photo Todd Wong

We
had fun.  We paddled hard.  We had good turns, we had bad turns.  Boats
passed us, we passed other boats.  Lots of boats made tactical
errors…  including us. 


Okay… we were third of three Mens teams…
But in our heat of races, we also beat 3 UBC Alumni teams and 2 Women's teams, in our final heat.

We were the first boat racing a roster of 2 women & 8 men. 

We arrived for the first race of the day at 7:15am to ensure
everybody was ready for the first race of the day at 8am.  Only 3 Mens
and 2 Women's teams were in this first heat. 

Day of longboats 43 the site...Samis

Sunny skies greet the UBC Day of the Long Boat racers – much nicer than 2007's windey white-capped waves – photo Dave Samis

It's an
interesting race start.  All the teams are sitting in the boats at the
water's edge, held straight by volunteers in wet suits standing in the
water.  The steersperson of each team, is not in the boat.  They are
sitting in a chair, located high on the beach.  The start is sounded,
and the steerspeople leap out of the chair, racing for the boat.  They
jump into their boat, and the team takes off.  All the boats head
toward a single huge yellow triangular float, where they have to turn
right.  All the boats bump and jostle each other, trying to get their
first, or to get the better position.

Dave
Samis steered the Gung Haggis Fat Choy boat, Tzhe was lead stroke.
Between them were Gayle, Ernest, Stephen, Joe, Pash, Tony, Dan, and
Richard.  The boat was jostling for position against the TD Lightning
Men.   The Scaly Bytes teams was in the lead.  The teams paddled East
past the Jericho wharf, and raced towards the beach where a runner
would jump out of the boat to grab a baton, then return to the boat to
finish the 2nd half of the race.  The Gung Haggis team came in hard on
the beach, and had some troubles trying to push off.  Tzhe returned to
the boat, and helped push the nose out.  They had to back paddle to get
past another canoe that had come in beside them.

Day of the Longboats 28..last bouy ..GH with me steering

Gung Haggis team rounds the last yellow marker in their first race – photo Todd Wong

The teams headed North out towards the North Shore Mountains into
English Bay, then turned left around another big yellow float.  From
here to the end, the Scaly Bytes women's team was nipping at their
tail.  Paddling hard they headed West towards the Jericho Beach
Boardwalk.  They turned left in front of the Jericho Sailing Club, and
paddled straight to the beach, Scaly Bytes Women's team hot on their
heels.  It was a tight race.  Wow!

This is a tough race that involved not only strong paddling, but
also good steering for the three turns.  The big surprise is always
what do do for the beach drop-off.  At 8am, the water was fairly
mid-high.  But by the 2nd race at 11:40, the tide was down, and we were
switching strategies to deal with all the shallow water.

Day of Longboats 62 Todd racing to our boat...samis

Race start! Todd sprints to the boat – photo Hillary Wong

Day of Longboats 63 and they are off...Samis
All the boats take off! Try not to collide with anybody – get ready for “bumper boats” – photo Hillary Wong

For our Mens Community Final race, Gayle moved to lead stroke and
Todd took over steering.  We had a good lane for the race – 2nd closest
to the buoy.  Our start was fast.  We pulled away from the TD Mens team
on our left, and the TD Women's team on our right.  No collisions with
anybody.  I steered a good line for the turn.  TD tried to go on our
outside, but we took a wide exit and cut them off.  They cursed,
dropped back and cut to the inside shore.  We all raced towards the
beach. 

Meanwhile a lot of the teams behind us bunched up at the yellow
float colliding and bumping each other.  The Scaly Bytes team came up
behind us on our left.  TD took a tight line to the beach, but we
weren't going with them.  I had seen some teams get hung up on the sand
bard in their path.  We stayed further from shore, and Scaly Bytes came
up beside us.  As we approached the beach, we could see the water
getting shallower underneath our paddles.  It was exciting, we were in
the lead coming towards the beach.

Tzhe hopped out of the boat, ready to make the run through the
shallow water.  Oops!  The water was too deep – up to his thighs.  The
Scaly Bytes boat came up on our right and Tzhe got cut off from the
beach.  He pushed them out of the way, and ran up the beach.  We moved
the boat East along the water closer to shore, drifting past the Scaly
Bytes team as they waited for their runner.  Their runner jumped into
the boat, but we were blocking their way.  They moved forward bumping
us, as we drew right to stay close to shore, waiting for Tzhe to come
back. 

Darn but that beach was long…. TD Lighting Men took off from the
beach.  Another team took off headed for the yellow float.  Tzhe
arrived back at the boat, exhausted from the long run.  We dug in deep
and paddled away.  Richard was muttering “Damn, we're third again.”

Actually we were now in 4th place.  Another boat was right behind
us to our left.  They headed right towards the yellow float.  I took us
for a wider approach, cut in close and caught up behind the 3rd place
boat. 

“Long and
strong!” shouted Gayle in lead stroke.  They cut in front and we
bounced in their wake.  The moved to the right, and we pulled up beside
them.

“Go Long, Power Now!” shouted Tzhe.  We surge past them.  We looked
ahead.  We were slowly gaining on TD Lightning Men.  They were maybe
8-6 boat lengths in front of us.  The last yellow float was up ahead
for the final turn to the beach. 

TD Lightning made their turn.  We were still boat lengths behind,
but coming in for a good third.  The 4th place team came in tight for
the last turn and tight on our heels.  We surged for the finish,
pushing hard.  As we ran the boat up on the beach, Tzhe jumped out of
the boat.  He ran up the beach and banged the gong with the baton. 
Race finished.  Tony and Dan and Richard were all slumped over
exhausted.  We patted each other on the backs, and walked up the beach.

Tzhe  bangs the gong to finish the race at 12:48 – photo Raphael Fang

Scaly
Bytes Men's team was already on the podium congratulating each other. 
They ran a good race.  They are experienced paddlers and some of them
are our friends.  Ron and Stuart have paddled with us in the past.  It
was nice to see them get the little black canoe trophies. 

We were disappointed our race wasn;t better.  Our mid-race beach
drop-off didn't work.  We jumped out too soon.  But we know that we had
a great start and got to the beach area first.  We know that we passed
teams on the way to the finish.  We did the best we could.

Our team mates who came out to watch congratulated us on our
finish… Wendy, Jonas, Hillary, Deb, Alissa, Ryan and Raphael.  Some
of them have paddled voyageur canoes with us in the past, and know how
challenging it is.  Some of them haven't, and look forward to their
chance.

Now…. Ft. Langley Cranberry Canoe Regatta in 2 weeks.

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