It’s time

And just like that, the season is over!

I’ve barely had time to write about the last few regattas because we’ve been gearing up for Nationals, and now our final week of training is here. This time next week I’ll be competing and it’s hard to believe that not so long ago I was there thinking “Nationals is months away” and now I’m sitting here writing a list of things I need to buy and do this weekend so I’m all prepared for competition.

Our last regatta, the Victorian Championships, was fantastic. We had a lot of great results in that regatta, and we all had a fantastic time. Have a look at how well we did!

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Pretty neat, huh? Perhaps my favourite race out of all of those was the 2km sweeps race. I was on the Blue team in the second heat, and we were up again 2 YRD crews. We managed to over take one of the crews, and hold off the other crew that was behind us enough to take out first place. As the drummer up the front of the boat, I rode that crew so freaking hard that I needed to get a strepsil off Darren afterwards. 🙂

After that regatta wrapped up, we grabbed a picture of the whole Victorian crew. and what a great looking bunch we are! It’s so fantastic so see so many different clubs represented this year! In the premier division alone, we have a great mix of Southern Storm, CYSM, YRD and Flames, to name a few, and I’m so excited to see us all come together I feel like we’re going to perform really well at Nationals this year.

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I’m unfortunately on all the “B” crews for the state teams (Possibly because I’m a bit of a fatty right now) but I think it’s still going to be great to see our “A” teams go out there and kick some ass. I’m excited for the 100m relay races actually – I’ve never done one of those before and 100m is such a tiny distance – it’s essentially nothing in a dragonboat. It’s Essentially a start, so if you don’t have a good start you’ve essentially lost it from the get go.

It’s interesting being in a 10’s boat too – they’re extremely tippy and I’m still really nervous on them because they’re quite prone to capsizing. You really have to trust your sweep and trust your crew and being up the front, I have to have my poker face on and not let my nerves show because I don’t want that passed down onto the team. Plus, you know, I’m a professional. I shouldn’t be nervous about a tippy boat by now. I’ve capsized before! It’s not fun, but we wear life jackets so if we go over, I’ll be buoyant.

I’ve been struggling drastically with my weight prior to Nationals which has been stressing me out to the max. you see, I’ve just started this awesome new job which has an unlimited supply of Tim tams, and I might have gone a little bit crazy and I got up to 53kg which is porky for me. I’ve managed to get back down to 51.5kg which is where I think  I’ll try and sit for Nationals because there’s only so many eggs and salads I can eat before I crave rice from the lunch trolley guy (chicken korma and rice today guys, instead of the usual roast chicken salad. Gotta live it up, it’s the long weekend!)

So! Nationals. I was absolutely honoured to be asked to drum the Masters crews for Melbourne Flames. It means an extra two days of racing and that means an extra 2 days of a chance of medals! Not that I’m competitive or anything 😉 But in all seriousness, I like out masters crew – they’re a good bunch of people and there are some amazing paddlers on that crew. I think we’ll perform well and I’m looking forward to being on the front of the boat with them.

I’ll be travelling up to Albury after work on Wednesday night, leaving by boys (read: boyfriend and guinea pig) to have a week long bachelor party at home. I wonder what they’ll get up to? No doubt Caesar will lose some weight because Reece doesn’t over feed him like I do! I’m thrilled to have my parents coming to Albury to support me for Nationals this year – doesn’t get much cooler than having your own personal cheer squad now, does it? They followed me to Canada a couple of years ago, and now they’re bringing their caravan to Albury and following me there to watch me drum for a week. Awesome parents? Yeah, I got a couple!

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See you at nationals guys!

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Battle Of The Barwon

ROAD TRIPPPPP!!!!!

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.

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Mmmm … Delicious shallots.

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.

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One of our paddlers, John, and our captain for the day, Jacquie, holding our trophy!

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The times for all of the boats that competed

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.

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Hearty post regatta meals. Awwwww yiss!

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 ….

Rach x

Round 1: Trials

Trials are this weekend!

I can hardly believe it. It seems like ages ago that I threw my name in the ring to be a drummer for the Aus team and now round one is in 5 days and the process is beginning all over again.

Am I nervous? Yes and no. Not really at this stage, because these aren’t really my trials. Mine are mostly on water. Like I said, perhaps I’ll have to have a weigh in this weekend, and if I do, I’m totally fine with that. Despite the fact that I squeezed in some sneaky nachos at least twice in the last week, my weigh is actually on track since I’ve been nourishing my body with lots of salads and veggie patties, so I’m not stressing out about that at all which is super nice!

My trials are for my voice, my balance, my rhythm and my authority – all of which I’ve been practicing on weekends. Clad in my snow gear. Because MELBOURNE.

Training yesterday was good actually. I worked alongside one of the other drummers that is trying out for China as well and I’m learning some of the things that she does that I hadn’t considered doing (it is learning right? I don’t want to be stealing any one’s tactics here!) but she’s really great with projecting her voice so I’ve been trying to mimic her and a friend of mine said I was louder yesterday so that seems to be working. A few more weekends of that should be really helpful. Then it’s just working more on my calls. And really it’s all about key words – keeping the calls short, loud and snappy. If you’re yelling into the wind, there’s no point telling a little story to the paddlers because a) they’re too exhausted to care and b) they’re probably not going to be able to hear you anyway.

A couple of years ago I worded with a sweep who was a super lovely guy, but loved to tell stories on the back of the boat and really articulate them using his hands too and I could see paddlers rolling their eyes and I’d have to try and not laugh because I’m  at the front of the boat with 21 pairs of eyes on me so POKER FACE right, so I’d have to keep beating a drum, wondering when he was going to get to the point and when I could get a word in so I could tell my peeps to use their legs and stretch their arms out a bit more. Lovely guy though. And he did twerk on the way to the start line in Canada which was entertaining.

So anyway, that’s why we use snappy calls. That, and because things can change in an instant, especially in a 2km race – when you’re going around corners and other boats are next to you and there’s clashing paddles, you don’t even have time for words that have more than one syllable in them. I think I still need to work on getting my calls shorter. I still catch myself saying things like “Keep reaching it out guys” when a simple “more reach” would suffice really. So I need to sit down and brain storm some calls; do some homework and see how I go.

We also had the drums out this weekend, and it was cool because at one stage the other drummer and I had our rhythms completely synced up and both of our crews were running at the same rate, and that was thrilling. Having two crews running next to each other, with their blades thumping the water at the exact same time and hearing the beat of the drum echo around the river on a Sunday morning is just amazing. It totally gave me bubbles of excitement for next weekend.

What else … I’ve been hunting down wobble boards too and I think I’ve found one. Pay day is this week (*throws confetti*) so I’ll probably order one and start getting on that a few times a week.

Ironically, I have better balance on the water that off the water. I’m the sort of person who literally trips over air because I’m so clumsy. I tripped on my pyjama pants the other day and they’re not even that long … It takes some serious talent to do that, folks. And I possess that talent. Unstoppable on the boat, extremely questionable on the land.

Alrighty, until next week guys … Wish me luck!

Rach xx