Gung Haggis Fat Choy Mulan Woman Warriors dragon boat team invade Cultus Lake women's regatta

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Mulan Woman Warriors dragon boat team invade Cultus Lake women's regatta

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Mulan Warriors at the Cultus Lake Women's regatta.  Our women paddlers were supported by Ernest on the drummer's seat and Stephen steering – photo Todd Wong

Mulan is the famous woman warrior of China, imortalized in the Walt
Disney animated feature film Mu Lan.  In the movie, she repels the
Mongol invaders, and has a dragon sidekick named Mu-Shu voiced by actor
Eddie Murphy.

MuShu the dragon mascot accompanied the team, and sat on top of Stephen's hat for each race – photo Todd Wong

At Cultus Lake Women's dragon boat regatta, held on August 12, the GHFC
Mulan Woman Warriors took to the waters aided by their trusty male
counterparts playing supporting roles as drummer, steers, cheerleaders
and cabana boys.  We proudly wore Mu-Shu, the diminuative dragon
mascot, on Stephen's hat (held on with duct tape).

Okay… so we didn't quite invade and overpower the competition. 
We limped in with 11 paddlers… and plundered other team's rosters
from the Chilliwack Water Warriors, the Cultus Lake Dragonfliers, and a
few other teams… and made lots of new friends.

The important thing is we enjoy paddling, and didn't want to miss the
opportunity for this nice little race in Cultus Lake, because paddling
in fresh water is so much more preferred to the smelly over-polluted
waters of False Creek.  We have a nice team of paddlers, and it's
too bad, that so many of our good paddlers couldn't attend, and others
had to drop out.  But not bad for only deciding two weeks before
whether or not we should consider the race.

Cultus Lake is a nice venue.  The Racer's Village was nestled
amongst the trees, and provided great shade from the sun.  The
Cultus Lake Dragon Fliers host the regatta as a fundraiser, and
welcomed a total of 12 teams from as far away as Kelowna's Fire and
Isis, and Dragon Stew from Salmon Arm.

We pitched our tents next to our friends The Pirates (with whom we will
definitely be invading Victoria Dragon Boat Festival with).  It is
because of the Pirates constant encouragement for us to paddle at
Cultus Lake, that we went for it.  Pirates Captain Ian Paul, came
out to guest coach Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat last Sunday in my
absence and brainwashed the team.

How did we do?  Well going into the Heron Final, we were the
favoured team with the fastest combined times (so far) against our
opponents.  Okay… the Heron Final consisted of the 3 slowest
teams… I mean the 10th, 11th and 12 fastest teams.  It was an
exciting race, and the most exciting to watch because the teams were
neck and neck from start to finish.

Heron Final race – Gung Haggis in the middle white boat – photo Todd Wong

For our team's first and second races, I had drummed while Ernest and
Stephen took turns steering for the first time in a competition. 
Wendy was our lead stroke throughout the day, and for each race we
paired her with a different partner.  This arrangement meant that
we gave more opportunities to 4 different paddlers to lead stroke, as
well as have 2 different steers and 2 different drummers.  Because
we were short paddlers, we borrowed 9 paddlers for each of our first 2
races, until GHFC paddler Julie showed up – then we only had to borrow
8 paddlers for the final.

This was a FUN regatta… no medals… lots of cameraderie.  The
Dragon Fliers consistently thanked us for coming out, to help round out
the regatta roster to 12 teams, and they proved to be good hosts by
helping provide us with paddlers for 2 of our races.  There were
lots of smiles before and after our races.  The “borrowed
paddlers” complimented us on our positive and friendly team, and the
good skill and discipline of our drummers and steers.

How did we do?  For the first time this year… I was not on the
boat.  I gave up my steering role to Stephen Mirowski, and the
drumming role to Ernest Wren.  This was the first time either of
them had steered in a race, and the first time Ernest had drummed for a
race.  The team did well.  Stephen had a tough time steering,
as we were in the middle lane being the top seed.  The other teams
were close on each side with not more than 5 feet separating boats from
start to finish.  Everybody paddled hard, not wanting to give
anything away… Everybody yelling, and splashing each other.  And
all boats finished within a second of each other… Dragon Queens came
first, Chicks Ahoy came second, and Gung Haggis Fat Choy came 3rd.

Poor Grace… before the race, she said she didn't want to know that we
had the fastest time of all the boats in our final.  She didn't
want a repeat of last year's race final at Harrison where we had posted
the fastest times against our competitors but finished last in the
final.  Oh well… another race for experience.  We will now
have to work on our mental training and mental toughness. 

Next up… racing in Victoria on August 19 and 20, with the Pirates team
11 of our paddlers are making up the roster.  I have given up my
seat on the team, so more paddlers can paddle races… and I will be
steering with DieselFish from
San Francisco.  They are now my “Victoria team”, as I have raced
with DieselFish at Victoria in 2002, and 2003 – when we won Silver in
the Gold division!

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