CONGRATULATIONS to the GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY long boat team.
Gung Haggis paddlers came 2nd in both Mixed and Mens Community races.
Tzhe, Christine, Hillary, Brandi, Karen, Debbie, Walter and Joe of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Community Mixed long boat team – photo Alex Kwok/T. Wong
UBC Long Boat race is a tough challenging race. Lots of strategy is
important. Steering plays a big role. Experience makes a big
SPECIAL BIG THANKS to TZHE
for organizing and captaining the team for today!
BIG THANKS to our long boat team.
Tzhe in seat 1 – the runner and lead stroke
Hillary and Christine in seat 2
Debbie and Brandi in seat 3
Walter and Karen in seat 4
Joe and Ernest in seat 5
Todd for steering.
Tony had wanted to create a strong mens team to give the visiting
Philippine paddlers a chance to race while they were still in Canada.
I said let's do it! UBC Long Boats was the opportunity. After Tony had
also potentially recruited 3 women paddlers, I felt it would be easier
to recruit 2 additional women and create an additional MIXED TEAM, that
I named Gung Haggis FRIENDS. This allowed paddling friends such as
Carly & Steve – the father daughter duo from Metro Van 44 Cheeks
and Flight Centre to paddle with us. Lisa and Dominic from How Wet Can
You Get and who paddled with us in Richmond, as did Oliver from PCL.
Carolyn Jeffries from CC Riders joined us, as did her coach Alex Kwok –
paddler for Booze Cruise. Remus from Dragon Hearts has paddled in
Vernon and Ft. Langley with us – He brought Tricia with him from Dragon
Hearts. Alison and Wade (on Mens Team) from Sudden Impact joined us.
They paddled with Dan Seto (loyal Gung Haggis alumni) at the Nationals
in Montreal this year. Along with Michael Chavez, Philippine paddler
who joined us for Last Gasp – this was the GH FRIENDS team. Almost
nobody had done UBC Long Boat race before… except Tony, Alison,
Tricia and Dan.
GUNG HAGGIS team philosophy has always been to be inclusive, give paddlers opportunities, emphasize friendship and fun.
I think we all accomplished this today.
There were lots of challenges… many unexpected… some preventable….
I apologize for any mistakes in steering…. I know we could have done better.
Given the circumstances we did our best… and we were competitive. If
not for us, Scaly Bytes FC didn't have any close competition.
We tried to beat Scaly Bytes FC team in Mixed and Mens categories.
These are experienced outrigger paddlers used to long distances. Scaly
Bytes recently competed in the 51km Santa Catalina crossing race in
California. I have known team organizers Ron Chin, Stuart Higginson
and Sarah Glazzard for many years. The first time they raced UBC Long
Boat was with a Gung Haggis team back around 2006.
EVERYBODY RACED HARD TODAY…
I SALUTE YOU!
Here's my blog draft about:
Strong paddling from everybody today – at points in both races Gung
Haggis Chop Suey MENS team and Gung Haggis FRIENDS were in the lead.
We had strong men in the boat today. I first met Tony in 2006 when he
paddled on the PYROS team from the Philippines. He had recruited
former fellow teammate Achilles who had paddled on the Philippine
National team, as had Abu. Marshall and Michael Chavez had come to
Canada recently as paddlers on the Phillipine Police team for the World
Police and Fire Games. Remaining paddlers were Wade, Allison and Dan
who had paddled together on the Sudden Impact Team that went to
Montreal Nationals race. Alex Kwok from the Booze Cruise team rounded
out the team.
MENS team had a great start and were leading the 2 team division…. as
well as leading the 2 womens teams. We had a fast start and reached
the 1st buoy with a great line, maximizing speed. Scaly Bytes FC Mens
got trapped by the 2 womens teams on either side of them.
Going past the 1st buoy and the Jericho wharf, we were leading by about
5 boat lengths in front of Scaly Bytes FC…. until we got hung up on
the sand bar – forcing Marshall to run from the sandbar, through deep
water, grab the baton and jump back into the boat.
We tried to back off the sand bar, and move left to go pick up
Marshall… but the Scaly Bytes FC Women's team then hit into us, as we
moved left… hitting us into the sand bar again. Marshall ran hard
through the water to jump back into our boat…
We were able to push away and get going hot on the tail of the Scaly
Bytes FC Mens team, cutting off time with a tighter turn on the 2nd
yellow buoy. Maybe they were about 3 boat lengths in front of us…
“We're gaining on them” yelled Tony. We had a chance.
In the long stretch FC Scaly Bytes pulled farther ahead… Both boats
bounced on the waters of English Bay… left… then right…
“Anything can happen!” I yelled… “They could flip… keep paddling”
I said these words to give our team some hope… knowing that races
could still be won or lost on corners, and in the finish…
Scaly Bytes FC made their tun…. going wide. We kept paddling… I
took us for a wider turn to keep our speed up… and cut the 3rd and
final buoy sharp. We practically clipped the buoy. We had lots of
speed, that took us a bit wide.. but steering corrections brought us
back on track to the finish line.
Scaly Bytes FC ran their boat onto the beach… and their runner jumped
out of the boat… ran up the beach to bang the gong. We kept
paddling… our runner Marshall jumped out and ran up the beach…
banging the gong. What a race… We had been in the lead, we didn't
go far enough around the corner into the bay. We hit the sand bar. We
were behind. We tried to catch up. We struggled. We lost. We had
done our best… but it hadn't been good enough. We gave high fives to
each other in recognition of our shared experience… of thanks… but
it did not ring with the joy of exhileration of winning.
IN BETWEEN RACES
To help give more preparation for our Gung Haggis FRIENDS MIXED team,
Michael Chavez and I walked over to watch the next race to see how best
teams can make the turns, follow the course, avoid the sand bar, make
the beach landing… then return around the 2nd buoy, paddle the long
length back to the 3rd buoy, then race to the finish to drop off the
runner and bang the gong.
MIXED TEAM RACE
Gung Haggis Friends teams pushes off from the start – photo Alex Kwok/T.Wong
At the start… The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Mixed team was on the far
left… and the Gung Haggis FRIENDS MIXED team was on the far right. I
was to steer Gung Haggis Fat Choy with Scaly Bytes FC on our right.
The horn sounded… and All the steers people ran to the boats…
“Go.. Go…” I yelled, as I go to the boat… and the paddlers…
paddled… forward taking off as I tried find my seat and grab my
paddle. The boat lurched forward, with nobody steering. I found my
paddle and paddled forward, looking around me to see where I should
steer the boat. We were ahead of Scaly Bytes FC. There was open water
to our right. Surprise! The left most lane is the hardest because you
have to some how cross every other lane to the right. With nobody
blocking our way, I turned to the right… cutting off the teams to our
right…. as they had to avoid collisions…
Scaly Bytes FC, had backed off to “avoid the canage” (I talked with
their steersperson after the race), they came around the outside to our
left… but they were behind us.
A team bumped into us hard from our right.
Surprise, it was the Gung Haggis FRIENDS team. They had been in the
inside lane closest to the 1st buoy. This is a good lane if you are a
fast team. But it is a tough lane if the other boats force you to the
right, missing the 1st buoy. They had been in danger of other teams
pushing them over… but Gung Haggis FRIENDS paddled hard, staying on
the outside of the buoy.
Not backing down to make a sharp turn, Gung Haggis FRIENDS paddled
hard… coming up hard beside Gung Haggis FAT CHOY team. With two
boats so close beside each other, there was no room for the inside
paddlers to paddle. This effectively slows both boats down
significantly. Behind us, Scaly Bytes FC was catching up, avoiding
collisions. Gung Haggis FAT CHOY and Gung Haggis FRIENDS struggled to
push off from each other… but too late. Scaly Bytes FC was catching
Gung Haggis FRIENDS took the inside path… I steered Gung Haggis FAT
CHOY to a wider path to the bay where we had to pic up the baton… I
really had to avoid the sandbar that I had steered us into during the
mens race. Behind us, Scaly Bytes FC tried to pass, but had to steer
further to the outside, trying to avoid colliding with us.
All three teams paddled hard to the beach. Scaly Bytes FC took a
further line, still paddling when Gung Haggis FRIENDS hit the beach.
To the left or to the right of them, I had to make a decision. I
expected the boat to drop off their runner, then keep moving to the
left. We came in fast, and I kept the boat moving. But GH FRIENDS had
come into the beach to hard, and beached the front of their boat. We
hit them hard.
“You rammed us” later said the GH FRIENDS paddlers during our debriefings.
The GH Friends boat tipped over to the left, from the impact. Water
started filling into the boat. They tried to right it fast.
“Back up!” I shouted to the GH team. But we too were now a bit
beached. Tzhe had already jumped out of the boat, and was running to
grab the baton from the tent. GH paddlers push backwards against the
sand, backing away from the GH FRIENDS team, who were climbing back
into their boat, now partially filled with water. They looked
frantically for bailers…
Tzhe jumped into the boat, and we were still backing up. Remus was the
runner for the GH FRIENDS team, and he too had jumped back into the
boat. GH Friends was backing up, as we were backing up… we had to
back up even more.
Scaly Bytes FC were now paddling away from further down the beach, having regained their runner.
“Draw Left!” I shouted… as we were finally clear of the GH FRIENDS team. We struggled to turn the boat away from the beach.
“Paddle Forward!” we shouted, as we tried to gain some speed to catch up to the rapidly escaping Scaly Bytes FC team.
They turned left at the second buoy, and there were less than boat
lengths between us. Behind us, another team was behind us by 2 boat
lengths. We paddled past the 2nd buoy. There were OC-6 outrigger
canoes stopped to watch the race. I think they had False Creek Racing
Canoe Club written on their hulls.
“Power Now!” shouted Ernest from the 5th seat left. Ernest has done
this race many times. A few years ago, he had been a runner. He knew
that the race wasn't over yet. Anything could happen… at anytime
during a race. “Power Now… 2, 4, 6, 8, 10” Ernest called, paddling
hard with each stroke in an effort to will the team to catch up.
GH Friends was paddling hard. Water was still in the boat, surrounding
their feet. As they paddled, water sloshed in the boat. As the boat
tipped this way or that, the water in the boat reacted, forcing the
boat to lurch. But these are all experienced paddlers. Many of them
paddled now or in the past on competitive teams. Michael was an
experienced canoe paddler and steers, and has paddled on Phillipine
As Scaly Bytes FC turned the last buoy to head to the finish line, we
were now about 5 to 6 boat lengths behind. The boat behind us was 3
boat lengths behind.
We turned the corner, with the other boat hot on our heels. Each boat
trying to make the corner tight. Each boat trying to keep their speed
Scaly Bytes FC hit the beach. Their runner ran up the beach to bang the gong.
We came up to the beach the right of them. Tzhe jumped out and ran up the beach.
The next team came up close to our boat to the right. Their runner ran up the beach to hit the gong.
As we started unloading the boat, the 4th place team had rounded the
final buoy and was paddling to the beach. It was GH FRIENDS paddling
hard. They came to the left of us. Remus jumped out as the boat hit
the beach. He ran up to hit the gong. We helped each other out of the
boat. And went to congratulate each other for finishing the race.
High fives… for all paddlers. It had been an exhilerating finish for all teams.
Gung Haggis had paddled hard to come 2nd to a much more experienced
team. We had 3 rookies in the boat. Karen and Christine had paddled
with us since April, training for the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat
race. Walter had joined us in May. We had experienced paddlers Tzhe,
Joe, Ernest, Hillary, Debbie and Brandi.
Gung Haggis FRIENDS was a team who had never ever paddled together
before. Allison had the most experience, and had paddled the UBC Long
Boat with a Ft. Langley team. Tricia had paddled Long Boat races 4
times before, but this was her first time as a dragon boater. Michael
steered the boat, after only having his first Long Boat race as a
paddler 90 minutes earlier while racing with the mens team. For 7
other paddlers, it was there first time in the UBC Long Boat Race.
Only Remus, Oliver and Allison had paddled before voyageur canoes
before at the Ft. Langley Cranberry regatta. For Lisa, Carolyn, Carly,
Steve, Dominic it had been their first time in the 10 person voyageur
canoe. They had paddled valiantly with maybe and extra 300 pounds of
water in their boat.
Cheers, Everybody… Todd