Chinese New Year Regatta

So last weekend was the much anticipated Chinese New Year regatta held in Footscray – the first and only regatta held in Melbourne. I actually love Chinese New Year more than our New Year so this was a regatta I was really excited to participate in because it combined two of my favourite things – Chinese New Year and dragonboating.

As per usual, Melbourne weather was dismal … A cool 19C and raining but thankfully we had the marquee set up this time so we had some shelter from the rain and the wind and when we were all huddled inside it actually was quite warm!

The racecourse itself was really great. It was held at the Footscray Rowing Club and they had closed off the waterways for us to use all day so it was a great area to race on – only problem with the outside lanes being slightly more shallow than the inner lanes which is to be expected. Our sweeps and paddlers handled that really well though!

16587301_1327409970613964_947961017683020351_o

The racing distance for this regatta was a scant 200m – blink and you’ll miss it! In this distance literally anything can happen, and it was indeed an action packed regatta.

We managed to get in a few crews this time – 2 premier mixed crews, a premier opens crew, a mixed masters crew and a women’s crew, and all of them ended up doing amazingly well at this regatta! Of course, our strongest competition at this regatta was Yarra River Dragons again (YRD’s) but we had some fierce competition too from Southern Storm, and Dragon Masters too in their respective categories.

We ended up having to rerun one of our premier mixed races as YRD’s had an issue with their boat – they were cruising along just fine but then their drummer’s seat literally snapped in half and she fell overboard. Of course, it was no fault of their own, so we ended up rerunning the race.

In the final of the premier mixed we ended up taking first from YRD’s by something silly like 4 100’ths of a second (after being lectured by our coach) so that goes to show you the calibre of racing that happened on Sunday!

16601942_1327403493947945_5639622312849882353_o

So our overall results for this regatta were:
Mixed Masters: 1st
Premier Mixed: 1st and 4th
Premier Opens: 2nd
Women’s 20’s: 1st.
Meaning, I walked away with 3 1st place ribbons!img_2528

Pretty rad huh?

So after the regatta drew to a close, our team organised to go and have a Chinese New Year feast together in Footscray which was a lot of fun! We sat down to a massive banquet of duck, chicken, fish, pork, beef, tofu, noodles, jasmine tea and this amazing dessert which was barley water with pieces of water chestnut in it.

It was great to get the team together after the regatta and celebrate a great day of racing and debrief, but also to have a bit of a chance to bond more before nationals. It sounds crazy, but nationals are only 2 months away and they’re fast approaching and what matters now is how well a team gels together both on the water and off the water. I believe that that is really important. The harmony between team members is evident on the water, so it’s really important to take every opportunity that we can to bond, whether it’s over dinners, or movie nights, or whatever we organise.

16734846_10154616416353445_1670729056_o

So there you have it! Another successful regatta. I was super proud of the team and what they achieved this regatta and I really hope they can take their drive and determination onto the next regatta, which is in Albury in March.

Coming up next is a State team camp, and then the regatta. I’ll have more news after that, but until then, paddles up!

Rach xx

Australian Team Trials

I received my official invitation to the Australian Team Selection camp on the weekend and it’s exciting to have an actual date for it. It falls on the 26th and 27th of November (my birthday is on the 28th too – Happy birthday to me!) so I’ll be a busy beaver trying to get ready over the next two months.

The trials are going to run over two days, with folk from all over Australia flying in for them. They’ll be two full days of on-water trials that will consist of jumping in and out of countless boats, faking confidence I don’t have as yet and taking command of a group of paddlers who have never paddled together before.

What’s worse is that Darren, the sweep who I’ve been working closely with, isn’t going to China anymore I don’t think so I’m really going to be thrown into the deep end now in terms of what sweep I’ll be working with, because I was just starting to get the hang of working with Darren and learning his calls and pre-empting what he was going to call out which would have been so amazing for trials, but now without him there I’m not actually sure what Sweeps will be trialing.

This makes me really nervous because I’ve always had the luxury of knowing the sweeps trialing. I’ve always worked with them previously in my club, or had some knowledge of them through the other people I’ve worked with. When I don’t know who I’m working with I tend to get quiet because I’m trying to suss them out and see how they work, but that’s the exact thing I can’t do at these trials.

I’m going to miss having Darren around on the back of the boat – He’s been teaching me some great stuff both as a paddler and as a drummer that’s been helping me grow a lot, and I was hoping that he’d be considering being a part of the team. Since he’s a part of the World Cup, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that he wouldn’t be trialing. But you know – This is a sport where we support ourselves financially. We don’t have any government subsidy so it’s expensive to go overseas twice in a year.

It’s interesting how one person can really help you develop as a paddler and as a drummer. Back in Canberra is was a guy called Kel – Super incredible guy. Friendly, charismatic, and someone who had a wealth of knowledge when it came to paddling and mentoring people. He knew when to nurture someone’s talent, and when to encourage them to push them to be better. In fact, it was Kel who promised me I could represent Australia within 3 years of taking up the sport with my talent – And he wasn’t wrong. kel always bought out the best in people, and he always bought out the best in me. When I was having a shitty day, he would encourage me to leave it on the water. When I was having a shitty day on the water, he would teach me ways to use that as a way of growing in the sport and develop from the things that didn’t go according to plan. Sadly, I’ve dropped out of contact with Kel now I’ve left Canberra, but I don’t think you ever forget someone who helps you grow. And I know I will always appreciate what he’s done for me. He might not know what he’s done, but he sure gave me the world and I appreciate the heck out of him for that.

So, back to trials. I have a vague inkling of what to expect … I’ve been through this twice before. The first time, unsuccessfully because my grandfather passed away while trials were happening and I pulled out. Truthfully, I don’t think I was ready for a spot on the team then anyway. Believe it or not, I was still getting over mild sea sickness and anxiety (yes, sea sickness. In a dragonboat). The second time, I was successful. And even then, I felt like I was barely ready for my place on the team again. I was over the sea sickness thing, but I was still dealing with the anxiety. I don’t think my anxiety will ever go away, but I know this time I’m ready. I’ve been through more. I’ve experienced more. I’ve trained under two different clubs. I know more people. I’ve come out of my comfort zone by leaving Canberra. I’m familiar with the location we’re trialing in. I’m ready.

Well. Almost.

Mentally I’m ready. I have 1kg to go before physically I’m back where I need to be. So I’m getting closer already.  1kg in 2 months is good. Cut out alcohol (except for special occasions) and that ought to take care of itself really. If I make the team, I’ll be on a full time alcohol ban, so I might as well start getting used to it.

The best part about trialing is seeing all my Canada team mates (who have been asking me if I’m trying out) again. I can’t wait to relive those awesome memories and get back on the front of a boat with a nice, powerful crew behind me again. I just love it.

November, November, November. You can’t come soon enough now, can you?

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.

img_11221

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.

14291896_10155273096942796_5613429237204891860_n

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

14329886_10155273093557796_478174752354695436_n

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.

img_11161

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