Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team prepares last practice for 200m sprints

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team prepares last practice for 200m sprints

It was our last practice before the 200m sprint regatta set for
Saturday April 14th at Dragon Zone.  Normally our team never hits
the water before April, but this year we have a core of 3rd year
paddlers who really want to take our team to another level.  While
I was in Vernon on Easter Weekend, our senior paddlers Stephen
Mirowski, Dan Seto and Ernest Wu took over the instruction reigns and
pushed the team to build strength and endurance.  I heard from one
of the new paddlers that it was a tough workout.

We have now been on the water for 10 practices since March 4th. 
Only on March 11th, a cold rainy wet day, we didn't have enough people
to take out a dragon boat…. so we took 6 people out in 2 person
Marathon canoes and had a great time, having little races.

For tonight's practice we had 19 paddlers on the boat… including 4
paddlers from the UA Power Dragons which I coach on Saturday.  Two
of the paddlers I knew.  Two of the paddlers I had never seen
before.  It was the first time on a dragon boat for Dan, and the
2nd time for Kiel.  I really don't like putting people into a race
with only 1 or 2 practices.  There are injury concerns and
technique concerns…. But I told the guys to just watch the
techniques, focus on timing.  I didn't want any power from
them.  They are strong atheletes who play other sports.  Try
to hold them back, eh?

focused on race prep, and our race day routine.   We did a race piece
with myself
 and Wendy as lead strokes.   Then I coached with Wendy and
Marlene as lead strokes. 

We worked on our 6-18 start.  Six slow strokes + 3 sets of six ups
up, up, 4, 5, 6) followed by two counts of “Reach with Power.” 
For a 200 m. race, we have enough time for starts + 2 power series
or  start, power series, and finish.  It's very short. 
A normal dragon boat race is 500m, and usually takes us 2:30 to 2:50.

We had a full race piece with GVRD 44 Cheeks, then a race starts Saints
Preserve Us.   GVRD is coached by my friend James
Yu.   Saints are coached by another friend Susan.  We
have friendly pre-race chatter between the boats, introducing the
teams, making jokes about each other… trying to psych each other
out.   Then we move the boats apart and tell the paddlers to
put their paddles in the water for a race start.

Darn those Gemini boats… we are sitting heavier, and
plowing the water.  They are lighter than the fibreglass 6-16
locally made dragon boats – but they are narrower, shorter and less
buoyant.  The races were still pretty close, and we had a
number of beginners in the boats, and a few people who were only on
their 1st or 2nd time paddling this season.

Looking forward to Saturday, and having everybody out.  We will
rotate new rookie paddlers into the lineup, and we will run the
final boat with veterans.   This serves to help rookies learn
ropes, and have the multi-year veterans give the 2nd and 3rd year
paddlers a better quality experience.

We are fortunate to have veteran paddlers Kristine and Craig join us
for the race.  They both raced on the 2001 Civil Serpents team
that won Comp B silver – which I coached and steered.  They are
two of
my favorite paddlers friends.  Craig first paddled on the
team in 1997, which changed its name in 2002 to Gung Haggis Fat Choy.

We are glad to have Ian and Cory from the Pirates – whom we
consider dear friends.  Ian paddled on the GHFC '05 team for Alcan, and
Cory joined us for regatta that year.  Last year, GHFC joined Pirates
for Victoria '06.

Stuart has joined GHFC and Tacoma DBA for Day of the Long
Boats for 2005 and 2006.  He and Linda are from the Scaly Justice Team,
which Dan joined for some practices in the fall.

Our core team members include Peggy, Marlene, Keng, Ernest, Joe, Dan,
Steven W., Gerard, and Stephen M. + drummer Deb.  Jonas and Wendy
joined us as rookies last year, as did Richard, Queenie and Tzhe. 
Georgia paddled on Burnaby Tsunami last year, and has joined us for
2007.   Joining us this spring as rookies are Stuart, Cindy,
Jim and Alex.  Pash is really a Pirate paddler and joins us for
Tuesday practices.  Julie joined us last year too, but has
Polynesian dance classes on Sunday, and will drop in on Tuesdays too!

So…. friends all around – that's the way we like it!

Cheers, Todd

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