Category Archives: Gung Haggis dragon boat team information

Gung Haggis dragon boat team races at 10:34am Saturday in Race #15

Cheer on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team for Race #15 Saturday at 10:34am, then later in race 38, 40, 42 or 44 between 2:47-3:31pm. Then again on Sunday TBA.

We have an enthusiastic team filled with veterans and rookies, and supplemented with paddlers from the Go Ju Go team.  Our combined practice on Wednesday night was awesome – we are ready to race!  We are also pleased to be hosting the TSA Dragon Flyers team from Long Beach California.

Here is the link to the festival events and races

Here are pictures from Friday Night opening ceremonies and performances at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.

Dragon Boat Festival is happening!

We had the Gung Haggis Chinese parade dragon out & about at the Dragon Boat Festival @ Creekside/Olympic village. We salsa danced, posed with little children and VIP’s, and saluted the Abreast in a Boat ceremony!

Jenny leads a little dragon dance, while a performer sings a special song about dragon boat paddling.


Todd, Jennifer, Enzo Guerriero (Festival Board), Andrea Reimer (city councilor), Carson, Barry (TSA team), Caroline.


Raymond Louie (City Councilor) and Todd.  Raymond used to paddle with a Vancouver Sun team
back around 1997.
We met stilt walkers!
We ham it up with the pizza guys…

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team – back to race speed!


Looking Good! 2013 edition of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team continues a 16 year history that began in 1997 as Celebration Team. This team is a mix of veterans and rookies, as well as returning paddlers and borrowed paddlers. The Dragon Zone Regatta was the first race ever for Sunny and Russ, and was actually Russ’ 3rd time in a dragon boat.  Louise first paddled with the team in ’99, before the name changed to Gung Haggis Fat Choy in ’02. Michelle also paddled on a previous team years ago, and has rejoined dragon boating with us.  Keng and Gerard joined the team in 2005. Deb Martin joined the team in 2003 and has paddled, drummed – but now steers for the team.  Joy is back with us, after dragon boat paddling in Dubai.  Jan, Betty, Albert and Katie are with the Go Ju Goh team. Stewart is a paddling friend from O2P and is now on the VO2 Max team (I don’t know why he likes this letter and number teams, honestly!).

Sybil and Karl were lead strokes for our final race of the day.  Karl is also team manager this year, Last year he co-managed with Xavier, who is now drummer, and taking this photo.

Our first race of the year saw us boarding the boat, as the previous weather forecast proved wrong, and the sky started spitting rain, which turned into a downpour, once we were out on the race course.  Good thing we have trained our team to have a strong mental resolve.  We practice in the rain, because it might be raining on race day, and while other teams whine about the rain, we will be ready because we trained in the rain. Anyways, we came 5th in our first race with a time of 2:48. Not bad for a first race.  Our team goal is be “first in our lane and never be slower than 3:00” – okay… not really.


Our paddles go deep!  Nicely coached… by the third race, as we were warming up for the final race of the day.  We want our paddlers to lean up, keep their top arm out, and lead the stroke with their hips!photo

We had to race past a flock of Canada Geese that were swimming in the middle of the race course! The Dogwood Nothing pulled in front of us in this race – but we will get them back in two weeks… I promise!photo

Xavier looks comfortable as drummer on the boat, and he really “Rocks the Kilt!”  Did you know that he is the only kilt-maker on the team?  He also plays guitar and churango in the Black Bear Rebels Celtic Ceilidh group.

The Gung HAGGIS Fat Choy parade dragon has been very active in 2013 – will we be at the Dragon Boat Festival?

Gung HAGGIS Fat Choy dragon boat team is very multicultural, and very community-minded.  The team began in 1997 under the name Celebration Team, and was renamed Gung HAGGIS Fat Choy in 2002, named after the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner event, that had its first public dinner in 1998.

This year’s team has members with origins from around the world, as well as multiple generations in Canada.  But our parade dragon has been especially busy in 2013.  In June, we might make an appearance at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, as well as the On the Edge International Conference for Scottish and Irish Studies.

Here is a recap of our dragon parade activities so far….
In MAY Asian Heritage Month, we were commissioned to do our dragon walk at the Vancouver Opera pre-show lobby, during their May 4-11, production of Tea: Mirror of Soul.2013_May_Opera 014at Vancouver Opera pre-show with Alma Lee (founder of Vancouver International Writers Festival)


MARCH 17, for the past 8 years we have been in the Celtic Fest St. Patrick’s Day Parade
with either a dragon boat float, or our parade dragon.  This year, we ended up on the cover of 24 Hours Newspaper.

556952_10151400971289302_2138235483_nOur picture

February 17
The Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade

January 27th
and our world famous Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner – as interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland, and filmed for local newscasts, and US Public Radio + many other media over the years.
DSC_0044_857158 - Piping in the VIPs

Welcome to the 2013 paddling season for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy paddlers building a big lead at the Steveston Dragon Boat Festival – 1st place in our consolation C race.

Scottish Robbie Burns music and poetry
+ Chinese New Year food and culture

+ BC history with Scottish & Chinese pioneers

= Gung Haggis Fat Choy

2013 is year 12, of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, paddling
every year @ Alcan Races and beyond since 2002.  It is also Year 17 for a
team that started in 1997 under the name Celebration Team and for which
the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner event was
created as a fundraiser for in 1998.  This is the only team that has
twice won the Hon. David Lam Award for the team that best exemplifies
the multicultural spirit of the dragon boat festival (2001 & 2005)

We paddle every Sunday 11am -1pm (excluding holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day) and every Wed 6pm -7:30pm (starting next week).  Our first practice in 2013 was on March 10th, last Sunday.

We paddle from Creekside Community Centre, at the East Bay of False Creek.  It is centrally located to skytrain terminals and bus stops.  It is just a few steps southwest of Science World.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team leaving the dock for the semi-final races of the 2012 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival – lots of enthusiasm, returning and new paddlers. – photo T. Wong

2012 was a rebuilding break through year for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. We started paddling in March, soon after celebrating our annual big Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner at Floata Restaurant on January 27th.

2012 Highlights included:
– 1st place Consolation Rec C Finals at Rio Tinto Alcan Festival
– 4th place D Division – Harrison Dragon Boat Festival
– 1st place Consolation C Dvision Steveston Dragon Boat Festival, Richmond BC Festival Canoe
– 2 teams in A Final at Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta

We will paddle throughout the Summer, entering races at least once a month, and finishing with one of the most fun events on  Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday October 8th – the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta.  You don’t have to paddle every race.   Pick and choose where and when you want to race.

Lots of smiles on the 2012 team after we paddled in our first race of the season at False Creek, Vancouver  – photo – T. Wong

We have unlimited team registration to join our “paddling and social club”
– but race events are limited to 24 paddlers + drummer + steers.
(20 paddlers in a boat + 4 spare paddlers) – we rotate everybody fairly, and nobody
sits more than one race (unless they choose, or special circumstances).

$150 Team registration includes practices, boat rental, coaching + equipment.  And we have student prices!

Each race event will have a varying price depending on the cost.  From $40 to $20, as the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival team entry is $1800,   RTA is 2 day event with 2 races per day + special races,  one day regattas are usually only 3 races.

We have really enjoyed meeting lots of new paddlers so far this Spring and welcoming back our veteran paddlers.  Everybody has such a great positive spirit.  We want 2013 to be lots of fun, filled with new friendships + race results to rival last year: Our teams over 16 years have raced in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Burnaby, Richmond, Steveston, Vernon, Harrison, Cultus Lake, Ft. Langley + Banff AB, Kent WA, and Portland OR….

CONTACT: Team manager Karl Castillo
Coach and team founder Todd Wong
gunghaggis at yahoo dot ca

Gung Haggis dragon boat team wins the Rec D consolation final by almost 4 seconds

Leaving the dock for our 1st race on Sunday – the Rec D/E semi-final.  It was our 3rd race of the June 16/17 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival weekend.

GREAT day of Dragon boat racing with the Gung HAGGIS dragon boat team – so proud of our team leaders and new rookie paddlers… They worked hard… corrected mistakes… met challenges… tested my patience… made new friends… and won their final race… and are really bonding and supporting each other as human beings – It makes it all worthwhile 🙂

  • Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival HEAT 83 RESULTS
    1st – L1/2:23.840/ GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY
    2nd – L /2:27.030/O2P
    3rd – L8/2:27.240/Dragon with Hatch Tattoo
    4th – L5/2:28.240/Dragon Hearts Go-ju Go
    5th – L2/2:28.800/Team Coke
    6th – L3/2:29.030/False Creek Grandragons Too
    7th – L6/2:31.190/Vintage SAKE
    8th – L7/2:32.470/Dragon Zone Strokes of LuckWe came first by 4 seconds! in our final race!
    Team morale is good
    We had fun
    other paddlers want to join our team
    Our paddlers are looking forward to Wednesday practice

More stories and links to pictures later today…..


“Let it ride!” The team has just crossed the finish line in the Rec D/E semi-final.  We came 3rd at 2:39.240, missing second place by 4.790  seconds.  Only 1st place and the three fastest 2nd place times would make it into the Rec D medal final.  While we finished in the top three of our race, it was a very messy performance.  The rate was high, the timing was all over the place in the middle of the race…  But we were still strong compared to the other boats in our field.  We knew we were headed into the Rec D consolation race and had lots of room for improvement.
We improved our race time from Rec D 2:39.240 Semi-final to Rec D 2:23.840 Final by about 16 seconds. It was the best improvement of every other team in the Rec D finals and consolation finals. Most teams improved by about 10 seconds, some only by 6 or 7 seconds. The next best improver by 14 seconds was Brittania CC Have a Nice Day which won the Rec D silver medal. The Rec D gold medal winner was Splash Test Dragons who improved by 2:19.130. All race times have variables of tides and wind, as well as heat times… but a 16 second improvement is significant!!! Well done Gung Haggis team!!!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team races Saturday at 9:50am and probably 1:52pm for Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

Our core paddlers have been paddling since March… and we are ready….
Our new paddlers are enthusiastic, and learning more every time they step in the boat…
And we arrive on site 90 minutes prior to the race start.
We are ready!
Our first race is 9:50 Race #11
We are in race 11, lane 7
We are seeded 6th – and will most likely come 6th or 5th, but not 7th
If we finish

5th we go to Race 31 – 1:30

6th to Race 33 – 1:52
7th to Race 35 – 2:14pm

Sunday 1st race will depend on how we finish in our Saturday afternoon race.
We are a fun recreation team – so we could end up:
Rec E consolation 1:30
Rec E Final 1:41
Rec D consolation 1:52
Rec D Final 2:03
Rec C consolation 2:14
Rec C final 2:25

Getting ready for the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival on June 16/17

Curious seal checks out the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

Something is happening in the water!
Steersperson Deb along with the backseat paddlers watch the seal swim behind the dragon boat
The seal swam the closest to a dragon boat that I ever saw!  Deb thinks it was at least 8 feet away.


Click on this link to watch the seal swim close to our dragon boat

Gung Haggis dragon boat team practice – 2nd last practice before Rio Tinto Alcan Festival

Good practice today!  We focused on race tactics as well as race day procedures.  Some of our paddlers only practice on Sundays or Wednesdays, so we will do the same thing on Wednesday.

After a warm-up, we explained where the team tents will be set up, and where the marshalling area will be.  At last weekend’s regatta, races were 15 minutes apart.  We then went through loading the boat, and how busy it will be on the dock, and leaving the docks to the race staging area on the water.

We did some paddling warm-ups for rotation, hips, reach and rate, then practiced some starts, then paddled to the race staging area in East Bay.  We quickly found the Hydro Dragons coached by Dan Hebert, whom I have known for about 10 years.  Dan called a race start between our two boats.  The start was close – both teams pulling hard with each stroke.  As I drummed for Gung Haggis, I stole glances at the Hydro team, watching the boat beside us.  I called a Power Series, and the team responded, digging deep for 20 strokes.

At the half way mark, the Hydro team pulled forward, and had to move to the left, as there was a boat anchored in the East Bay, in the middle of what will be the race course next weekend.  Our boat took in some water as Dan’s coach boat cast a wake in our path.  Some of our paddlers were distracted by the unexpected surprises of course change and boat wake.  This is a good exercise in dealing with unexpected surprises.  The Hydro Dragons proved to have a strong finish, and crossed the finish line before us.  We congratulated them, then did our own race debrief.

We then headed for the Center Bay of False Creek and did some exercises to help improve our race starts: front half and back half race starts.  This served to show the newer paddlers how well the veteran paddlers perform, and to inspire them.  The back half proved to be powerful, but with some timing issues and room for improvement.  We do believe in our new padders, and want to encourage them – there is great potential here that will be realized not in the next weekend, but later this summer.

We had our paddlers switch sides to work out on both sides of the body.  This is something we regularly do to encourage body symmetry and help develop paddling technique for both sides of the body.  We next worked on power series drills for front, middle and back thirds, while the rest of the team paddled 60% effort.  Next we turned the team over to veteran paddler Keng Graal who is also one of the team’s drummers.  Keng explained how she calls for the team, and what she expects.  She called a short race piece, to allow the paddlers to get used to her voice.

As we approached the startline in the East Bay, beside the island, we gave the paddlers a rest, and practiced some commands for positioning the boat.  We asked the paddlers to back paddle, and left front draw, right side draw – all to get the paddlers used to what may happen on Race Day.

We did one final race piece of 500m, with Keng as drummer.  This was good.  Keng is a demanding drummer that commands attention.  She first came to the team about 7 years ago in 2007.  She had been a drummer for the CC Riders dragon boat team for Columbia College.  We trained her to be a paddler.  The first race she did with us was 1000m.  She survived…  She stayed with the team… and has paddled with us in many races and has really grown into a team leader.  She is small, but really pulls a lot of water for her size.

We look forward to a great weekend for June 16/17.  We have great leaders on this team with Keng, Steven and Debbie as assistant coaches, Deb as steersperson, Karl and Gio as lead strokes, Xavier as “master of the kilt!”

Everybody on this team brings something.  It might be strength, experience, or a great sense of humour.  We encourage and acknowledge every person’s personality, and especially the cultural diversity that each paddler brings.  We have fun and we both encourage and tease each other, as well as respect each other, and what each person brings to the team.  This is good team building.  This is a good team.  I am having fun, and especially getting to know our new paddlers.


We only had 16 paddlers out on the water this Sunday – but we had fun…. and that is what is important.

Paddlers out on Sunday were:

Karl & Gio

Keng & Amelia

Caroline & Xavier

Steven & Walter

Florian & Gerard

Pedro & Todd

Justin & John

Pierce & Sabina

+ Deb Martin as steersperson.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team races their first race of the season

June 3rd Dragon Zone Regatta @ Creekside Community Centre.

Back row: Sabina, Anne D., Karl, Pedro, Marc, Gerard, Pierce, Christian, Todd.  Front row: Anne C., Jenny, Suzanne, Steven, Keng, Debbie, Deb, Gio, Caroline, Xavier, Walter.
Great day of paddling for the team! We raced with 18 paddlers and focused on the development for our 5 rookie paddlers. We can see our potential as a team, as we addressed technique and rate issues… And… we had lots of fun! That is success! Congratulations to our team members.


Our first race was in a BuK boat with a time of 3:01.870

This is a video of our 2nd race.  We came 3:01.430 in a Gemini boat.
Marc smiles, while waiting for our 3rd race.  We came 3rd in a Gemini boat with a time of 2:59.800.  Hurrah, we broke 3 minutes!