Portland's Wasabi paddlers get Gung Haggis Fat Choy team dinner in Victoria for dragon boat races
Almost every team has their own banner with a dragon on it – photo Todd Wong
Elena is one of my new friends from Wasabi Team Huge – photo Todd Wong
Victoria Dragon Boat Festival
August 18, 19
On Saturday night… I organized a Chinese dinner for 40 paddlers
from Wasabi Team Huge and Wasabi Mixed. I brought my accordion and
taught them to sing Scottish songs and recite Robbie Burns “Address to
the Haggis” – just like last year in Victoria for the Dieselfish team, the Cultus Lake Dragonflyers and the Pirates/Gung Haggis team… Everybody loved the
dinner. On Sunday, people kept thanking me for organizing the event,
and saying they had fun.
But no haggis… I promised to bring the haggis to Portland in January,
and organize a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner for them for Robbie Burns
birthday for 2008!
I have known the Wasabi Paddling Club since 2001, when I became friends with paddler Suzi Cloutier on Wasabi Team Huge. In 2003, I steered for Team Huge at the False Creek Women's regatta, and medaled with them at the Kent Cornucopia Races. At the inaugural Portland Sellwood Park dragon boat races, Wasabi hosted Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, and loaned us paddlers to win medals in the recreation division.
Wasabi Team Huge: waiting for our boat to come in. Joyce, Jenna, Suzi and Sandra – photo Todd Wong
I had an inspiring weekend steering
and being a team member with the top women's team at the festival.
Wasabi Team Huge… a team that took the silver medal at the 2006 US IDBF Nationals and won gold at the World Club Crew IDBF races.
It was great to race again with Team Huge. Sometimes being a male
addition to a women's team can be a challenge, or met with suspicion (thank goodness, I did my Women's Studies courses at college!).
Thankfully my friend Suzi and coach Kim spoke well of me, and led
the team with welcoming hugs. Trust is a big factor in building a
team. Team Huge not only welcomed me for their Victoria race, but also
paddlers from their Wasabi Mixed Recreation team – Warriors, and Wasabi
senior women's team – Power Surge, as well as a woman paddler from
Vancouver too! Coach Kim created a powerfully strong positive atmosphere that was inclusive – something I also stress for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.
Team Huge finished 4th in Gold B Division – out of medal contention… but they were the top Women's team at the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival. Next closest women's team was in bronze – 15 to 20 teams below us.
We finished #39 of 90 teams, at the bottom of the top 4 divisions… instead of being at
the top of the bottom 5 divisions. They raced for pride, to improve
with each race, for each other, and for themselves…
Coach Kim Ketcham is great… I have known her since she was a paddler on Team
Huge in 2001. She started coaching the team in 2003. She teaches the
women to paddle with heart, with technique, and with control.
The team is very disciplined and responsive. When they did their power
pieces, you could feel the boat pull forward steadily. In our Gold B Race Final, the other mixed teams surged past us on the start. But Team Huge caught up to 4th place Concord Flying Dragons, and passed them. When the
team moved into their final power series, they pulled away for a 1.45 second lead
with a time of 2:27.74… a big improvement over posting a 2:33 on
Saturday morning. In the Gold B race the winning times were:
West Shore Warriors 2:20.30 – Dog Paddlers 2:23.53 – Starbucks
Wasabi Team Huge: Anna waxes Caroline's butt before a race – photo Todd Wong
The very top teams posted times of Kai Ikaika (with a team stacked with
False Creek paddlers) 2:03.74 – Gorging Dragons 2:04.51 – Dragonauts
2:09.39 – Sudden Impact 2:11.61
Our friends on Swordfish got silver in Diamond division with a time of
2:15.29 and Gung Haggis paddler Teresa Plesner paddled with Tacoma's Destiny Dragons to finish 2:23.24 to get 3rd place ribbon in Diamond consolation.
Manfred Preuss' Chilliwack Crusaders posted 2:24.23 to grab Bronze medals in the Silver Division
In the Crystal Division (the slowest category)
Cultus Lake Dragon Flyers got silver in Crystal 2:32.74 Gung Haggis paddler Richard Montagna paddled with False Creek Grand Dragons missed bronze
by 0.80 seconds to our friends Chix with Stix (from Tacoma).