Paddling on False Creek in the sunshine… with friends… on a dragon boat team. Very Vancouver!
I love the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragonboat team. I have managed and coached it since 2002, when the team morphed from the former Celebration team, which I had created in 1997.
This past Sunday, we did some full 500m race pieces. You could feel the power in the boat. Some of the rookies still need to develop their timing and many paddlers still need to develop their cardio. But the potential is there and we are very happy with our development this year.
Our core paddlers are so enthusiastic they wanted to start paddling in February. I told them they were crazy and should go skiing instead… but happily relented and joined them, when a Global television crew wanted to film us for their “Best of BC” news series representing cultural diversity.
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is about opportunities.
about community building. It's about making cultural statements. It's
about having fun and making friends.
And it's about dragon boat racing….
This year I wanted to create two dragon boat teams. We now have about 35 active paddlers, coming to practices on Sunday afternoon at 1:30pm and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 6pm. Our system is flexible. Come at least once a week, twice is recommended. Pick a day, paddle, bring a friend and have some fun. Each practice is different with different combinations of paddlers. Everybody is getting to know each other, and we are encouraging more responsibilities and team leaders.
Last year we raced 7 dragon boat races + 2 canoe regattas. We will do similar this year, starting on May 17th at the Lotus Sports Club Bill Alley dragonboat regatta.
This year is special.
Two weeks ago we had two time Olympic kayak racer Kamini Jain come out and give us a paddle clinic. It really helped the team both improve their paddling, and as a bonding experience. They got to watch each other on the video, cheer for each other, and encourage each other… which is what we do on the boat all the time. Amazingly, Kamini really complimented many of our rookie paddlers. She was amazed that some of them had only been on a boat for 6 or 7 times.
This year's Gung Haggis team is going to be incredible.
Adding the CC Dragons paddlers gives us so much more experience in the boat.
I have been drumming during our race pieces “as coach” waiting for our “star drummer” to come out.
Imagine conducting a symphony… where everybody knows what to do, when
to do it. All you have to do is wave your arms, and signal the
You don't do any counting… the team does it…. mentally… or only for key words.
You stand at the front, watch them, guide them, encourage them, coach
them. giving out cue words…. like a race jockey on a thoroughbred