1st Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice + Dragon Zone public paddling

1st Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice + Dragon Zone public paddling

Nice calm peaceful water for paddling on False Creek's East Bay, greeted us with spots of sunshine on April 2 – photo Dave Samis

The sun came out and stayed for the afternoon, a wonderful start to the 1st Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice for the 2006 season. 

We started by assisting the Dragon Zone public paddling program, as we did last week
There were about 14 people who showed up for public paddling with such a good turnout,
surprising Nicole who coordinated on the Dragon Zone end for the Alcan
Dragon Boat Festival

A cameraman named Justin, showed up from
City TV, filming us taking people out on the water for their very first
(and sometimes second) experience at dragon boating.  Justin
filmed us doing warm-ups, giving paddle instruction, loading into the
boat, and paddling.  This is a great way for Vancouverites to get
to experience the Vancouver tradition of dragon boating.  I shared
with everybody that when my girlfriend Deb, first joined the dragon
boat team, she would say: “It's a Vancouver experience that everybody
should try!”  And now she is starting her 4th year of dragon
boating with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy team.  She can paddle, she
can drum and she can steer (during practice), and last year she was so
happy when she experienced her first winning race in a semi-final at Harrison Lake, and also her first dragon boat medal at last year's Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragonboat Race.

We're on tv already, and it's only our first practice!  Usually we
don't get on camera until ADBF time, when we were filmed for CBC NewsWorld last year, and French public television Thalassa in 2004.

Fourteen people also came out from the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat
team, supplemented by friends Gerry and Jo Black, from the Eh
Team.  Dave Samis steered one boat with Gung Haggis drummer Deb
Martin, leading the team, while I coached form the 2nd boat with steers
Sean Mulgrew, Dragon Zone employee.

After a quick introduction and short warm-up, we divided into two
groups – matching first-timers with experienced paddlers.  We
emphasized safety as we loaded onto the boats.  Gung Haggis
paddlers were lead strokes for each boat.  Both teams moved very
well for being half-filled with first time paddlers.  Our lead
strokes in both bats set a good pace that was easy for people to
follow.  Soon, I quickened the rate, which resulted in inevitable
paddle clashing accompanied by lots of laughter.

After short exercises emphasizing timing drills and paddle technique,
we took a short rest, and I told people about the Alcan Dragon Boat
Festival, and how the race course was set up.  We turned around
and did two very short mini-races, then took people back to the
dock.  Both boats well during the mini-races and people had good
fun.  I hope these public paddling sessions will encourage more
people to take up the recreational sport of dragon boat paddling.

Following the public paddling session, Gung Haggis paddlers stayed in
the boat and we went out for another 30 minutes to finish off our
practice with an emphasis on paddling technique and cardio
workout.  Everybody felt good about the session, and were glad to
shake off the winter rust.  We hadn't been a dragon boat paddling
together since Labour Day weekend for the Vancouver International
Taiwanese Dragon Boat race, when we won bronze medals in Division D.

Our first race will be May 20th, at the Barnet Marine Park for the Bill
Alley Memorial Dragon Boat Race
, hosted by the Lotus Sports Club.

If people would like to try out public paddling at Dragon Zone – check out the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival website and click on events – public paddling and register by e-mail.

If you would like to join the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, e-mail me at gunghaggs at yahoo dot come, or phone me at 604-240-7090

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