Day of the Longboat: voyageur canoe race

The UBC Day of the Longboat is a fun paddling race.  250 ten person teams compete.  It is organized by the UBC Recreation deparment and is designed to promote fitness and fun amongst UBC students and faculty.  Community (non-UBC) teams compete on Sunday.  There were 32 non UBC teams altogether and I paddled for both the Tacoma Destiny Dragons Mixed and Mens' teams.

Teams race 8 boats at a time, traversing through a “one of kind” 2 km course.  The beach start has all 8 boats with loaded crews ready to go while the steers person sits in a chair on the beach.  At the start, the steerspeople all jump out of their chairs, and climb into their team's canoe… sometimes the canoes leave too soon, and the steerspeople must climb in from the water. 

The teams then paddle about 100 m away from the beach to turn right at a big float.  Up to this point, the 8 teams are jockeying for position trying to get to the front while steering in a straight line.  Imagine bumper cars for canoes.  Imagine paddles clashing.  Imagine boats bumping into each other and sometimes tipping over.  That's what the start is like – a mad scramble to see who can turn the corner first. 

Nex you must paddle about 700 m down the beach to a designated area.  Saftey cones are located under a tent.  The designated runner must climb out of the boat, grab the cone, then climb back in.  So the boat usually comes up to the beach parallel ready for a quick drop off and take-off.  Sometimes it doesn't happen – if a boat comes up beside another.

 Leave with the cone, paddle like mad away from the beach, make another turn at a float – then paddle the next 700m stretch down to a final turn.  This is where good teams put their technique to the test. We had teams try to pass us here, but none could.  We actually started catching up on the race leaders here too.

Making the final turn – we sprint the final 100m to the beach.  We gohard all the way, beaching the boat.  Our designated runner then climbs out of the boat,  runs up the beach and hits the gong.  We saw some boats come from behind, hit the sand with lots of momentuum, and have a real fast runner fly up the sand and hit the gong before the runners from boats who have hit the beach sooner.

This is a real fun exciting race.  I will do it again!

Dragon boat – 2 races per day X 500m = 1000m.

Day of Longboat – 4 races per day X 2000m = 8000m!

That is the equivalent of 16 dragon boat races within 5 hours!

Well my lower back aches… my calves ache… my triceps ache… the trapezoids are sore!   Gee… so I must have been paddling with good technique because it hurts in all the right places!

Gotta remember to practice paddling more… gotta be prepared for when my Washington team calls on me…

I really enjoy working with good people. Good-hearted and well-knowledged are how I would describe Tacoma Dragon Boat Association – led by Clem, Rives, Lee and Merri.

Nah… they are great people. The whole team of 'em!

It’s a fun thing we can say, that everytime I have raced with TDBA – we came first in something. 1st overall in Kent 2002, Seattle 2002, Penticton 2004, and now UBC Longboat 2004 (Mens). Craig and Kristine also did Seattle 2002, Tom, Susan and Mary also did Penticton 2004. We look forward to Stuart, Cristina, Dave and Caroline having more fun with “their Washington team” for the future.

As Clem pointed out – we worked well as a group, bringing together a number of paddling styles and people from different teams. Craig now paddles outrigger with Lotus Sports Club, Cristina is with Pacific Reach, Caroline is with Scotiabank Dragons, Dave Samis is with GVRD/Gung Haggis, Tom is with Gung Haggis, Kristina splits her time between Gung Haggis and Scaly Justice, Stuart is from Scaly Justice, Susan and Mary from Saints Preserve Us. That is 7 different Vancouver teams + Tacoma Destiny Dragons. Sunday was the first time really meeting Caroline and Stuart! Thank you for coming on board with us!

We had 16 people go for lunch after the races to Milestones on 4th Ave. That was fun! We must plan a BBQ for TDBA when they come to Vancouver for races in 2005. And there will be plenty of races in Vancouver and Seattle/Tacoma next year! Caroline Soo and I will help plan the SFU Dragon Boat Races for Simon Fraser University's 40th Anniversary for 2005. We hope to involve the Lotus Sports Club and also help support Lotus' dragon boat regatta in May 2005, then have the SFU dragon boat race possibly the weekend before or after the UBC Day of the Longboat. Yesterday we were planning and plotting and came up with an idea of a challenge cup that could take combined times of UBC vs SFU teams…

The bottom line is it was great to see old friends, paddle with former team mates, and make new friends.

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