You may have noticed we did not send out any festival recaps this season, which is usually part of our process. I don’t know how many people read the summaries but some have mentioned it’s a nice way of keeping our teammates in the loop about how we did and also fun to re-live some of those intense racing moments!
I’ve sat at my computer a couple of times this week with the intention of writing a summary of the season and admittedly I’m finding it overwhelming.
This was a season of firsts for the Calgary Dragon Boat Club and I am hopefully not alone in my thinking that our few short months of paddling seemed to go by very quickly - likely attributable to the large volume of paddling we did in the early months.
April saw 17 of our members travel down to Florida for the Bow Wave Dragon Boat Camp. It was a rigid schedule – yoga at sunrise, a team paddling session followed by one-on-ones, stretching, a coaches talk and then an afternoon team paddling session. I think everyone that attended found at least one aspect of technique to focus on, based on the video reviews. This is also where “two feet forward” and some of those coaching terms we’ve heard so frequently this season came from – “more hang” “find the glide” and “press”. (They don’t just make things up on the fly, well, except maybe Kevin…JK)
We were lucky with the weather this year and we got on the reservoir at the beginning of May. This set us up for a 2-day training camp in Edmonton and a 1-day regatta in Calgary. Based on the feedback, both of these events were extremely well received by our club (and other clubs) and I anticipate it could turn into something that occurs annually. It was also great to practice in side-by-sides with two CDBC crews on Tuesday nights in those first couple of months. Having a boat right beside you in practice makes it much easier in those neck and neck race situations – and we did find ourselves in some tight heats this year!
Vancouver was our first festival this season and the first (only) opportunity for the crew heading to Nationals to try and put our race together against some very tough competition. I think we did very well at meeting our race targets and we were rewarded with our first sub-2 minute time of the season in the Competitive A Final (1:56.745). We also won the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office Visiting Cup and finished a grueling Guts and Glory race (10:31.197) without any major mishaps.
It’s a shame Nationals had to follow so quickly on Vancouver’s heels but a few short days later we were off! Our first appearance on such a competitive stage – it felt pretty surreal to be there after months of planning and hard work. We were very consistently “not last” and it was a humbling experience to race against so many incredibly strong teams. I’d like to highlight that we did set some CDBC records at Nationals – we raced our best time ever in 200m (00:47.56) and although sub-2 remained elusive for 500m we did have our fastest time ever on a true 500m course, in freshwater, with 10 women and 10 men (2:00.35). Finally, we had a club best for the 2k (9:56. 83)! This earned us a round of celebratory shots later that night from the coaches! In all, Nationals was a great experience for CDBC – with a little more hard racing experience and a longer pre-race season, I think we might have found ourselves in the middle of the pack instead of in the bottom half (14 out of 18). I look forward to seeing what our team can do when we go back in 2017.
After Nationals, I think a few people were “paddled out” but it was a great opportunity to re-group, welcome some new paddlers to the club/sport and start ramping up for the final weeks of the season. Before we knew it, Calgary Festival was upon us…
This year our rosters for Calgary were the tightest I can recall ever being for paddlers and it took some real magic on the part of the planners and the coaches to make sure we had paddlers in all the seats. We did not have any spares and there was some creative boat hopping between our drummers/steers and paddlers. I am so proud of Yahoo Evolution for getting into the A-Division (and they did it with 2-fewer guys than Crew Yahoo) and predict it will only be a matter of time before our two mixed crews end up meeting in the A-final! Crew Yahoo came up just short of gold for the 3rd straight year – but it was some very close racing against EDBRC Molasses (2:03.85 vs. 2.03:48). Yahoo Angels scored some gold (2:19.98) and a bigger target to replace their wings ;)
And then – Penticton. What can I say?! The September festival always ends up being my favorite, partially because we are performing so well but also because the season is winding down and we can let loose a little bit. This festival was no exception – both teams had some of their fastest times of the season (Yahoo – 1:57.33 and Angels – 2:14.96; nevermind that the course was only 470m long and thanks to the coaches for so quickly pointing that out…). We raced hard and Yahoo walked away with gold and Red Angels with silver! The rest of the festival highlights cannot be reported here but if you ever want to know what happens on a Sunday after an out-of-town race you’ll have to sign-up…
That’s all for now - the season highlights as I recall them!
Hopefully enough sunshine and memories to hold you over until next May.