Monthly Archives: September 2009

Gung Haggis dragon boat team races inaugural Last Gasp regatta and posts big leads!

Gung Haggis dragon boat team posts two big 1st place finishes in Vancouver's inaugural Last Gasp dragon boat

The Dragon boat racing season isn't quite over.  With the cancellation of the 6 year old 2009 Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race, held in conjunction with the Taiwanese Cultural Festival, the new Last Gasp regatta found it's place on the Vancouver Labour Day weekend.

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Gung Haggis team after the 2nd race, first 500m race of the day – photo T. Wong

10 person dragon boats were incorporated into the race grid alongside traditional 20 person dragon boats.  The race format featured one 200m. sprint + two 500m races with an optional 1000m. race.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy team was a competitive 3rd place (by 1/2 sec)
in first race, a 200m sprint.  Facing tough competition from Starbucks Waverunners and Phat Phish who came 1st by 2 seconds, Gung Haggis was slow off the start, but picked it up for a strong finish.  Finishing so close to more traditionally stronger teams was a big boost to the confidence of our paddlers.

For our 2nd race, I sat off the boat, as a 10 person crew needed a steers.  We had brought in former Gung Haggis paddlers/drummer Julie – so she drummed our regular races.  Steven Wong and I shared steering duties, so he took over for the 2nd race.

2nd race had a strong lead from the start.  After the first very tight race, it was hard to believe that Gung Haggis had such a big lead.  Our team kept up the pressure, calling power series and a strong finish. 

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Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team crosses the finish line in our 2nd race. – photo T. Wong

The final races, were ranked in order of combined times from the first two races.  We ended up in the D division, even though we were just .23 seconds slower than one of the teams going into C division. But that's racing.  We would have liked to have raced our friends The Pirates from Chilliwack. 

For our D Final race, we were lined up beside Aquarius Aqua Divas – a women's made up of paddlers from Shaggin' Dragons and Speediatrics.  I've known their drummer Guen since about 2006, and Charlene from 1999.  Also lined up beside us was Twisted Hips – a rookie team that was developed from the Paddlers Up public paddling program, that we helped start up back in 2006.

From the start, we took a slight lead.  The team paddled steadily.  We could feel the surge of the boat with each stroke.  I could hear veteran paddlers Tony and Dan calling “Backs Push” – keeping the backs strong and steady.  By the mid-point we had a comfortable lead, so Julie didn't call any more power series. 

“Finish Now” yelled Julie. And the team dug their paddles deeper.  “More” I called from the 4th seat.  And we all paddled harder.   We crossed the finish line, as Julie yelled “More!”  Next she called “Let it run” and we collapsed in fatigue, turning our heads to see the other boats approaching and crossing the finish line, following us by 5 seconds.  Our final race time was 2:25, very close to the 2:24 times of the C final above us.

There were 5 finals altogether. In the A Division Final Race –  A and B had four teams racing.  C, D and E had 3 teams racing. We were happy that our final time beat two teams in C and B divisions.

of D'Zone prevailed, with the addition of our paddler Gayle, who used
to paddle with them many years ago.  Gayle is the strongest and most
experienced woman paddler on our team, and we feel very fortunate that
she likes us and paddles with us for two years in a row now.  We
nicknamed her “The Goddess”.

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Gung Haggis team passes under the Science World dock after their 2nd race of the day. – photo T. Wong

Gung Haggis did NOT race 10 person boats… just 20 person boats + 1000m race.

I also steered a 10 person boat for the joint Banana Fusion / Race Face / Dragon Z team –  We came 1st. for their final Mens team heat.  The 10 person boats also raced heats for womens and mixed as well.

This was my first time in a 10 person boat.  It is  very sensitive.  I needed to brace and balance a lot.  It would have been fun to do a barrel race in them!!!!

Our 1000
m was fun. We had a good start and caught up to the team ahead of us at
the turn. But… they slowed down spiking the turn – where I steered
a wider course to keep our speed up – trying to cut behind them, as
they turned out…. BUT THEY SLOWED DOWN TO MUCH. I told our team “Slow
Down” I clipped the outside of their stern… I should have yelled
“BACKS HOLD!” We got forced to go outside around the ADD (Shaggin
Dragons/Speediatrics) team…. Damn.  we will have to practice turning maneuvers with multiple boats as we prepare for the UBC Day of the Long Boats (Sep 27) and Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Regatta (Oct 12).

I made the turn, we would have sling-shotted past the 3rd starting
boat, and quickly caught the 2nd starting boat. 1st starting O2P was
left behind on the first straightaway. 5th starting Strathcona Storm
came behind us on the turn, caught up, and powered to the finish.

I am Very proud
of our team's performance and that they are all wonderful good-hearted people who like being friends!

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Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team – Last Gasp edition:
l-r Dan, Sean John, Todd (front), Jim, Christine, Nancy, Joe (back), Stephen W., Tzhe, Walter, Carly (front), Raphel, Julie (almost hidden), Stephen M (back), Marion, Danielle, Karen, Devon (back), Debbie (front), Steve (back), Hillary, Tony, Georgia, Michael, Marshall – photo D. Martin

Final dragon boat races for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy team Saturday Sept 5th @ Science World/False Creek

It's the final dragon boat regatta of the 2009 season in Vancouver

Last Gasp dragon boat regatta Sep 5 Saturday @ Science World/False Creek
This will be the first public dragon boat race in Canada that features 10 person dragon boats.  These boats were first used in Vancouver for the World Police and Fire Games in August.

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team started their racing season with practices in the last week of February, the first race on May 2 in Burnaby's Barnet Marine Park, the Dragon Zone regatta on June 7th, and the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival on June 20 and 21st. 

We entered the Richmond Festival for our first time, and came 4th in the A division.  We traveled to Vernon for July 25/26, as it is our favorite race of the year on beautiful Kalamalka Lake.

We will next enter the UBC Day of the Long Boats and the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Regatta, to race in voyageur canoes.

But first…. we have to race Saturday Sep 5th at the Last Gasp regata.
Dragon Zone beside Science World, at Creekside Park, Vancouver BC.

Please come cheer us on!

Here's the message from our magnificient manager Tzhe Lam:

'ello Gung Haggis,

I have finally received the race grid from Dragon Zone and it looks like the first races of the day start at 9am.

first race of the Day will be at 9:55am so we will need to marshall at
9:35 if they are on time which means I would like everyone to be at
Dragon Zone at 9am at the very latest.

This is so that we have
enough time to setup tents and get organized as well as make sure we
get the final roster into the Officials so that we can race.

If you have not signed the roster yet make sure you arrive early so that you can do so.
Also bring me your $20 race fee if you have not yet paid me!!!

Our second race will be between 12pm and 12:45pm depending on our placing in our first race

Race 3 will be most like between 2:15 and 3pm  depending on our times

Race 4 1000m will be between 3:20pm – 4:20pm again determined by overall time.

These are rough estimates of time and can and will change on race day depending how quick/slow they get the races out.

As always bring food and drink of your choice to the event. Preferably something that won't make you sick while paddling.

Fans and supporters are welcome.


Saturday Strathcona Walking tour will reveal Jimi Hendrix Connections.

James Johnstone, House Historian is leading walking tours in Strathcona, and will reveal Jimi Hendrix connections to Vancouver.

Here's the message from James Johnstone, House Historian.

In doing some extra research to prepare for my upcoming walking
tours of Strathcona this Saturday I stumbled on a new Hendrix family
connection to Strathcona. Everyone knows about 827 East Georgia, the
house where Nora Hendrix lived for a number of decades in the 1940s and
1950s but this evening while researching something totally unrelated to
the Hogan's Alley I found another house where Ross and Nora Hendrix
lived in 1911. This second, or should I say first Strathcona Hendrix
home, will be revealed on the tour.
Departures are at 10am and 2pm from the Heatley Block on the SW
corner of East Hastings and Heatley Avenue. Parking is ample and free
on Hastings and nearby.
Cost is $15 per person
for those who can't make it this Saturday, these tours will be
offered periodically on a request basis whenever there is a minimm of 6
people wanting to go on a tour.
Yours in history,
James Johnstone
703 Hawks Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6A 3J2
CANADA 604-254-4666

Strathcona neighborhood has lots of history – My grandmother and great-grandmother lived here

Vancouver’s Strathcona neighborhood is one of the oldest and most historied.

And yet… there are houses and buildings being demolished or threatened – like the Heatley Block

My grandmother, my great-grandmother and my great-great-grandfather all lived in Strathcona.  And while the Chinese United Church is no longer here, because the buildings were demolished to make way for townhouses, some of the houses are still very well preserved!

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There are many many historic houses in Strathcona. Heritage markers are placed in front of the buildings such as this one.  Below is a picture of the Jane Wilks House – which my grandmother lived in. 

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This is the Jane Wilks House at 732 Princess Ave.  My friend James Johnstone, house historian, recently discovered that former BC Premier David Barrett’s parents lived here.  My grandmother lived here from WW2 to about 1957.


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My mother’s family previously lived at 627 Pender St. from 1928 to 1944


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The Wilder Snail is a very funky grocery store with a coffee shop.

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Across the street is this very contemporary style town house development, with very post-modern Smart Cars in front.  What a contrast from the early 1900’s when my granduncles Art and Gordon started the first Chinese Canadian taxi service. 

See more of my Strathcona pictures + Strathcona Community Gardens:

Strathcona Community Gardens and Neighborhood

Strathcona Community Gardens…

Last Kilts Night of Summer – Sep 03 @ Doolin's Irish Pub

September 03
Doolin's Irish Pub

Kilts Night at Doolin's has been a tradition since January 1st, 2005
That's when Terry “Bear” Varga and I joined Raphael at Doolin's Irish
Pub, when we discovered that the Atlantic Trap and Gill was closed on
New Year's Day.  Kilts Night had been the first Saturday of the month
for awhile… long before me, anyways.

Now we meet at:
Doolin's Irish Pub
Nelson & Granville St.

8:00pm to Midnight
Wear yer Kilt to receive a Free Pint of Guinness

I have 3 kilts + 1 mini-kilt  available for 4 people wanting

LIVE Music w' Halifax Wharf Rats.

The August Kilts Night was GREAT!
We were also invaded by the World Police & Fire Games
What happens when Kilts meet Police athletes from around the world?
We met Spanish female pentathletes and Norwegian male hockey players + a Pub Crawl “from the Troller to the Raven”.

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Raphael, Todd and Stuart with Spanish pentathletes for World Police & Fire Games