Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is ready to race this weekend at Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival
Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival is the largest such festival in North America. The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team has been racing since 2002, so this is our 10th year. The team actually started racing in 1997 under the name Celebration Team, but changed the name in 2002, after the Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner that I had started in 1999.
We had our final practice on Wednesday. We had 18 people skipping game 4 of the Stanley Cup playoffs to fine tune our paddling techniques instead. A number of paddlers were watching the game, or off sick. We are looking forward to having 20 paddlers on the boat on Saturday and Sunday.
It's been an up and down year so far. Practices have had inconsistent turnouts. There have been more than the usual number of illnesses, and vacations. In my role of coach, I have been away for a week vacation, and a week of workshops, which I have never done before. But the foundation of the team is strong. We have had veteran paddlers Steven Wong and Debbie Poon step up to coach the team in my absence. Every year there are new paddlers and retired paddlers. And every year there is a great enthusiasm and sense of team.
Both our practices tonight Wednesday, and on Sunday were all about fine tuning our race strategies and performance. The team paddled hard with close to full boats each day, and we could really feel a strong start, and the catch and glide that we are used to with a good performing team working together.
Last year three of our paddlers were on work or education visas from Scotland, England and Belgium. This year we have three people from France on work visas, who have joined us. We also have some good experienced paddlers who have joined us, who have previously paddled on other teams. All share a good sense of fun and friendship, that our team is known for. At the Lotus Sports Club regatta in May, two of the new paddlers tried on the kilts that are so associated with our team. One of our new local Vancouver paddlers is a friend from our Kilts Night events – so there will be plenty of kilts to be seen this weekend.
Good luck to all our dragon boat friends at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival. I look forward to seeing long time friends from Chilliwack, Portland, Seattle and Victoria – as well as friends on all the local Metro Vancouver teams.
The race grid will be released soon, so I will post our race times for
Saturday as soon as I can. Race times for Sunday, will be posted
following our Saturday races, which will determine seeding for the
semi-final and final races on Sunday.
Check the Festival website for the race grid here: