Gung Haggis dragon boat team races inaugural Last Gasp regatta and posts big leads!

Gung Haggis dragon boat team posts two big 1st place finishes in Vancouver's inaugural Last Gasp dragon boat

The Dragon boat racing season isn't quite over.  With the cancellation of the 6 year old 2009 Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race, held in conjunction with the Taiwanese Cultural Festival, the new Last Gasp regatta found it's place on the Vancouver Labour Day weekend.

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Gung Haggis team after the 2nd race, first 500m race of the day – photo T. Wong

10 person dragon boats were incorporated into the race grid alongside traditional 20 person dragon boats.  The race format featured one 200m. sprint + two 500m races with an optional 1000m. race.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy team was a competitive 3rd place (by 1/2 sec)
in first race, a 200m sprint.  Facing tough competition from Starbucks Waverunners and Phat Phish who came 1st by 2 seconds, Gung Haggis was slow off the start, but picked it up for a strong finish.  Finishing so close to more traditionally stronger teams was a big boost to the confidence of our paddlers.

For our 2nd race, I sat off the boat, as a 10 person crew needed a steers.  We had brought in former Gung Haggis paddlers/drummer Julie – so she drummed our regular races.  Steven Wong and I shared steering duties, so he took over for the 2nd race.

2nd race had a strong lead from the start.  After the first very tight race, it was hard to believe that Gung Haggis had such a big lead.  Our team kept up the pressure, calling power series and a strong finish. 

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Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team crosses the finish line in our 2nd race. – photo T. Wong

The final races, were ranked in order of combined times from the first two races.  We ended up in the D division, even though we were just .23 seconds slower than one of the teams going into C division. But that's racing.  We would have liked to have raced our friends The Pirates from Chilliwack. 

For our D Final race, we were lined up beside Aquarius Aqua Divas – a women's made up of paddlers from Shaggin' Dragons and Speediatrics.  I've known their drummer Guen since about 2006, and Charlene from 1999.  Also lined up beside us was Twisted Hips – a rookie team that was developed from the Paddlers Up public paddling program, that we helped start up back in 2006.

From the start, we took a slight lead.  The team paddled steadily.  We could feel the surge of the boat with each stroke.  I could hear veteran paddlers Tony and Dan calling “Backs Push” – keeping the backs strong and steady.  By the mid-point we had a comfortable lead, so Julie didn't call any more power series. 

“Finish Now” yelled Julie. And the team dug their paddles deeper.  “More” I called from the 4th seat.  And we all paddled harder.   We crossed the finish line, as Julie yelled “More!”  Next she called “Let it run” and we collapsed in fatigue, turning our heads to see the other boats approaching and crossing the finish line, following us by 5 seconds.  Our final race time was 2:25, very close to the 2:24 times of the C final above us.

There were 5 finals altogether. In the A Division Final Race –  A and B had four teams racing.  C, D and E had 3 teams racing. We were happy that our final time beat two teams in C and B divisions.

of D'Zone prevailed, with the addition of our paddler Gayle, who used
to paddle with them many years ago.  Gayle is the strongest and most
experienced woman paddler on our team, and we feel very fortunate that
she likes us and paddles with us for two years in a row now.  We
nicknamed her “The Goddess”.

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Gung Haggis team passes under the Science World dock after their 2nd race of the day. – photo T. Wong

Gung Haggis did NOT race 10 person boats… just 20 person boats + 1000m race.

I also steered a 10 person boat for the joint Banana Fusion / Race Face / Dragon Z team –  We came 1st. for their final Mens team heat.  The 10 person boats also raced heats for womens and mixed as well.

This was my first time in a 10 person boat.  It is  very sensitive.  I needed to brace and balance a lot.  It would have been fun to do a barrel race in them!!!!

Our 1000
m was fun. We had a good start and caught up to the team ahead of us at
the turn. But… they slowed down spiking the turn – where I steered
a wider course to keep our speed up – trying to cut behind them, as
they turned out…. BUT THEY SLOWED DOWN TO MUCH. I told our team “Slow
Down” I clipped the outside of their stern… I should have yelled
“BACKS HOLD!” We got forced to go outside around the ADD (Shaggin
Dragons/Speediatrics) team…. Damn.  we will have to practice turning maneuvers with multiple boats as we prepare for the UBC Day of the Long Boats (Sep 27) and Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Regatta (Oct 12).

I made the turn, we would have sling-shotted past the 3rd starting
boat, and quickly caught the 2nd starting boat. 1st starting O2P was
left behind on the first straightaway. 5th starting Strathcona Storm
came behind us on the turn, caught up, and powered to the finish.

I am Very proud
of our team's performance and that they are all wonderful good-hearted people who like being friends!

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Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team – Last Gasp edition:
l-r Dan, Sean John, Todd (front), Jim, Christine, Nancy, Joe (back), Stephen W., Tzhe, Walter, Carly (front), Raphel, Julie (almost hidden), Stephen M (back), Marion, Danielle, Karen, Devon (back), Debbie (front), Steve (back), Hillary, Tony, Georgia, Michael, Marshall – photo D. Martin

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