I love a good road trip to regattas. Back in Canberra, my favourite regatta was always the Flowing Festival that was held in Jindabyne each year. It’s always great to wake up early (well, that part isn’t great), pick up your mates, jump in the car and roll down the highway wrapped up in conversation about dragonboating which gets you pumped for the day ahead.
Last Sunday’s regatta was in Geelong; an easy 80 mins from Melbourne. I managed to drag my boyfriend along to the regatta, so we picked up Tim and Caitlyn at the boat hub around 7am where we loaded paddles, bags and cake into the car before cruising out of Melbourne and down the freeway. Caitlyn is from Malaysia, so on the way down she was telling us some great stories about the different types of paddling styles and regattas that she races back at her home. It’s great to hear about how this sport is experienced all around the world! Some races, she was saying, are raced without lanes, so it’s basically a free for all. Some big regattas are “scored” where the team that wins the event three times gets to keep the trophy forever, but otherwise they don’t have a points scoring system, and they race against other international teams all the time. It’s funny to think that – I mean, we’re so close to New Zealand and we never race them. In fact, I don’t even know if they have a dragonboat team. I assume they do?
After we arrived we found a comfy place for our team to nest for the day, and got comfy. There were three heats of four boats that were going down the river that day and we were in the last heat. Most teams had only entered one crew, like us, with the exception of Yarra River Dragons (YRDs) who entered in two boats. They ended up sending a 10’s crew down the river and I honest commend them for that because good Lord, that would have been a hell of a slog. 6.5km in a heavy boat with 10 peeps? There’s no way I would have survived!
So we kind of pottered around for most of the morning really. We could see the start and the finish of each races but being a river run, there’s really only so much you can see obviously. I chatted with a few of my team members I didn’t know since I’m still relatively new in the club, took some photos, and stayed snuggled up in my jacket since Geelong put on some windy weather for us. Perhaps my favourite photo of the day is the one I’ll post below – I love the dragonboats when they’re all dressed and ready for racing.
There’s usually a ceremony before nationals where you “awaken the dragons” before big events, where you dot their eyes (to awaken them from their slumber) and present them offerings – There’s usually fruit baskets and they are presented with shallots which are placed in their mouths. I can’t remember the significance of the shallots which is a shame, because I think they look super cute when they’re painted to look so fierce, then they have a delicate bunch of spring onions sitting in their open mouths. Little cuties.
We jumped in a boat around 11:15am (Lucky boat 3 who still had his shallots in his mouth after two races) and after some friendly banter on the start line with YRD on the start line, we took off. They were staggered starts, with about a minute between each boat and we started third. Our Sweep, Darren, and I rode our crew up and down that river, overtaking one other crew in our heat at around the half way mark and it just made our crew hungry for more. That crew … Goodness – they were on point. If we asked for a lift in power, they lifted. If we asked for longer strokes, they went longer. They were responsive, they maintained their pace, and they worked together so bloody well that I couldn’t have been more proud of them. And Darren was equally as stoked too.
Want to know how well they worked? They earned themselves FIRST PLACE. And I was damn proud to be leading them to victory. Second was the 10’s crew from YRD, and third was the other YRD crew, so you can see who out competition is here for the season! But it’s a nice friendly rivalry which is nice. Most of the people on my team and on YRD paddle together on the Australian team, so we’re all friends and there’s some great sportsmanship between the two, and indeed all of the teams.
How else do you reward your paddlers? FOOD. Lunch at the Little Creatures Brewery in Geelong (hey, it’s not technically Nationals training season just yet!). Piling back into the car, we went and grabbed a beer/cider, and some delicious food with our team mates and some of the other teams as a reward for our hard work before cruising back down the freeway back to cloudy ole Melbourne.
So we’re back to training again tonight and Melbourne’s put on fabulous weather for us (#Sarcasm #Rain) so that’s going to be super amounts of fun! Our next regatta is actually in Horsham (ROAD TRIPPPPPPP!!!!) but I won’t be attending that one because I bought tickets to a Halloween bash and Halloween is actually my favourite shindig of the year (go figure – I loathe scary movies), but the one after that is in Ballarat which falls a couple of days before my birthday so I have a feeling that’s going to be all kinds of fun. My folks are coming down for that one so you can probably expect some crazy photos and some mischief from that regatta. Whenever Mama and Papa K come to regattas, they’re always cheering from the sidelines! Even when they came to they were dressed up in their matching clothes they bought from Nationals held in Melbourne a few years back, God love them.
How do you thank your folks for following you around the world supporting you? I think if I make the Australian team this year I’ll buy a paddle, and an extra shirt and frame it and give it to them for their wall. It’s not much, but it’s something ….
Okies. Enough rambling! Hope you enjoyed the pics! I’ve got a hankering for some shallots 😉
Until next time ….