Great practice for Gung Haggis dragon boat team: getting ready for Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

4 days to go, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is ready for the biggest dragon boat festival in North America.

Wonderful practice tonight on Vancouver's False Creek waters.. we even had 30 paddlers show up for 20 paddling seats in a Gemini boat.

Not everybody is racing Rio Tinto Alcan Festival, so 3 paddlers went
out on the GVRD/Metro Vancouver boat… We traded our Gemini for a 6-16
boat with Concord team.

We had 24 paddlers, then rotated drummer and steers throughout the practice. 
It's not the best way to build team consistency, but it is a way to
share responsibilities, build in flexibility and teach paddlers to
adapt.  By having our Commodore Stephen Mirowski at both steers and
drummer positions, as well as paddling – if gives him a better view of
how seating arrangements and paddler abilities will be arranged.

Thank you to Gerard Graal, who will step into our manager position.  He
and Keng have just returned from 3 weeks in The Netherlands – Gerard's
native home.  Keng also did a nice short job on the drummers seat,
despite being a bit jet-lagged.

We started practice doing some warm-ups, and saw Alissa, Nicole and
Devon paddling with the Metro Vancouver Team.  Didn't they all look
good.  I swear the best looking paddler on the left side of the boat
was Alissa…  With that dazzling new smile of hers!

2009_May 182 Video of a race start for a Gung Haggis dragon boat practice a month ago.  Tzhe and Jane are lead strokes in this video – photo T.Wong.

We did a race start lined up beside the former Comp team formerly known
as Scotia Dragons, now called How Wet Can You Get – which is ranked #24
out of 148 teams that have raced in regattas so far this year.  Guess
what?  Gung Haggis Fat Choy is ranked #31, ahead of #33 CC Riders and
#35 Metro Vancouver.
See the rankings here:

We are doing pretty good for our development this year.  We hit the waters in March, wore our toque hats and have pushed our veteran paddlers while nurturing brand new rookie paddlers.

We worked on some race strategies, and some basic drills.  The key
thing is to keep a  consistent rate.  The only improvement you can make
as paddlers is to keep reaching a little bit more, get your paddle in a
little bit quicker, pull with a full blade in the water, and keep your
heads up to stay in time. 

Fun surprise of the evening was singing Happy Birthday to Danielle. 
Today really was her birthday.  Great dedication by a rookie paddler to
come paddling with us, before going out to dinner with her husband.

2009_May 180 Here are rookie paddlers Karen and Katie paddling and looking like veterans (almost) – photo T.Wong

“News” of “In the Same Boat” has finally hit the dragon boat forum at  Check out this topic:;topicseen#new

You can identify a few of our paddlers in a “In the Same Boat” youtube trailer here:

Tonight, after practice – the Gung Haggis team had a dinner social at The Clubhouse japanese restaurant.

I showed dvd's of the documentaries we had been involved in previously.
It was great fun to identify the paddlers who were on the teams in
2005, 2006 and 2007.  Some are still with us, some are paddling on
other teams.  We could also compare and contrast our paddling styles. 
I do believe that our 2009 team is good and strong.  We have a group of
core paddlers that has improved a lot since 2005.  And we have some
great rookies and second year paddlers now too!

“Thalassa” is the 2005 TV series produced by France 3, which
followed False Creek Women's Team and Gung Haggis Fat Choy –
contrasting the premier Women's team with a mixed recreational team. 
You can see us doing race visualizations, and even our one-finger lift
of then coach Bob Brinson who also steered for us.

In 2006, CBC film crew shot us at the Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat
Race for the documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.  Basically
the story was about my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan and his
descendants – 5
generations of Chinese Canadians including Todd Wong.  So they
interviewed me, and filmed some of my many  community activities
including dragon boat racing, speaking at Terry Fox Runs, being a
cancer survivor, helping to save author Joy Kogawa's Childhood home,
and the cross-cultural phenomena of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, Toddish
McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

And we also showed
footage of the 2007 Dragon Zone Sprint Regatta, captured by ZDF TV
(German) for the doc – From Toronto to Vancouver by Train.  Not much
footage actually made it into the aired edits – but ZDF was kind enough
to make me a dvd with all the footage of our team.

See everybody on Saturday
Please arrive early with your wristband… and get lots of sleep the night before!

Cheers, Todd

One thought on “Great practice for Gung Haggis dragon boat team: getting ready for Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

  1. Anonymous

    I'm grateful for your blog Todd. It's pretty cool to have you keep historical evidence of the best of our dragonboat team and your numerous Vancouver's cultural memories.


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