Dragon Boating!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Charlotte is a great city. Any given weekend there's plenty of activities for all interests, to name a few: bike races (professional and amateur), free concerts, and there's always the professional sports teams: Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Bobcats, Charlotte Knights (Atlanta Braves farm team), and Charlotte Checkers (minor league hockey). Then you have the different events...the ones that don't fall into the categories above and seem to attract a different-smaller crowd like the Charlotte Asian and Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Norman last weekend.

I heard about the Dragon Boat Festival through a work newsletter and after speaking with a few of my colleagues decided it would be a fun event to participate in. Siemens was a corporate sponsor entering two teams and even though I had absolutely no idea what a dragon boat looked like or any of the details about the race (other then the date), I was in!

Aside from my brief rowing career in college (lasted a whole semester) I hadn't been in a boat or done much rowing/paddling since the fall of 2005. We did have one practice leading up to the big event...pretty much making us professionals, as a large majority of our team showed up unprepared and choose not to participate in one of the three arranged practices

 We arrived at Ramsey Creek Park around 8:30 Saturday morning. After registering and signing waivers we settled in and played the "hurry up and wait game." Right as the first race was about to go off a team captain came running over in a panic because their drummer for their boat was not 16, and therefore was not allowed in the boat. In a pinch, I volunteered and ran over to meet their team at the staging area before getting in a boat. I really had no idea what I was doing, but the team was friendly and were glad to have me, as I prevented them from having to scratch their first race. The team, Team Loveboat, was comprised of employees of the city including the mayors office and a few other city organizations. I think I held up my part of the bargain pretty well, I drummed, kept a rhythm, and didn't fall off the boat...a success in my opinion.

Catching the tail end of the technique presentation.

Siemens bought us awesome dry-fit shirts for the event!

Me and Team Loveboat ready to crush it!

Talking to the lead rowers about my duties as a drummer.

Pushing away from the dock, fortunately every boat had a Dragon Boat Association member to steer.

Team Loveboat during the first heat.

Eventually the first race rolled around for the Siemens Tubrinators and we were ready to crush it...unfortunately it didn't really go that way...to say the least...we left a lot of room for improvement. Didn't want to set the bar to high to start with! (We practically set the bar on the floor). It wasn't really that bad, but we missed the most crucial component, timing.

Jerry and Kylie, two of my coworkers and former EDP's, waiting to get in the boat.

Siemens Turbinators pushing away from the dock.

Post race we watched the other Siemens team, the Current Crushers, and then ventured off to find some lunch.  This was the Asian and dragon boat festival after all...read "I love food". After walking around and surveying the different options, we choose the one with the longest line which is usually a good indicator of the food, however we failed to consider how slowly the line was moving. As we approached the front of the line we were called over to race our next race - enter Michelle to save the day...again. In hindsight this worked out best; had we received our food quickly I would have rowed on a full stomach which would've ended horribly for both me and the other members of my boat.

As you walked through the festival the smells forced you to see what was on the grill!

Food wasn't the only thing the festival had to offer, this booth had some cool photography of asian cities.

The rest of the day followed the same pattern, although my duties as a drummer were cut short after the second heat for Team Loveboat, unfortunately they lost a female rower with a family emergency, and did not have enough rowers to compete. Our second heat was by far our best, we elected to have two rowers call out the strokes which helped the team function as one unit. At that point, we had posted the best time of the second heat - 1:16 for 250M.

The day dragged on into the evening and just as we were about to head out for our last heat around 5, two teams suffered disaster when a power boat ran right across the finish line causing a huge wake and capsizing their boats. About an hour later after the rowers had been rescued and boats had been bailed we headed out for our last heat. We were placed in the championship of the C Division (A-D, each division included championship and consolation) after averaging our two first race times. Although the race turned out to not be our best time of the day it was enough to win the division. The Siemens Current Crushers also won their final heat, the consolation wave of the B division.

Michelle was a real trooper spending the day with us, ordering food, and even going to get the car at the end of the day!

EDIT: Our medals finally arrived!


Exhausted we packed up our stuff and headed for the car. It was a great day of Dragon Boat racing and turned out to be a blast!


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