Off Season Thoughts

I feel lazy. I always do during off season. I begin to over indulge again and because I’m not training I feel gross.

I’ve taken about a month off now to rest and recuperate after Nationals and I feel like it’s probably time to get back out on the water again even though it’s getting towards Winter again. My club does river runs each Sunday which would be a great way to keep in touch with everyone, keep healthy and keep paddling before China, but I’m struggling with the whole “Waking up on a Sunday” thing, especially when my best is oh so comfy and warm.

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But it comes down to looking after myself, and since Nationals, I have NOT been doing that. I was given strict instructions by the Australian Head Coach at our camp NOT to gain weight, and guess what? Your girl has put on 1.5kg since Nationals, so Serge isn’t going to be impressed with that at all.

Truthfully, I’ve never looked healthier at my current weight but at the end of the day, my weight is slowly on the incline it’s probably time that I end my relationship with the snack cupboard at work, so that the salads I’m eating every day actually begin to make a difference. And the alcohol! Goodness me. I love alcohol, so that’s probably the biggest culprit here … I love a good glass of Vino of an evening after work, but I’ve got to get back into the green tea thing again.

UGH being healthy sucks! You feeling me?

But China is only a mere 5 months away now so it’s slowly creeping up on me. I’ve booked all my flights, both international and domestic, and I’ve ordered my uniform so all that’s really left to do now is book my accommodation and some fun things after Worlds and my trip is set!

I’m looking forward to seeing Bejing and seeing the Great Wall of China. I know I’ll be completely out of my comfort zone over there and I hope that right now I’m ready for that step in my life. Although I’m 31 I’m like a little pot plant – I’m still growing in many ways and suffering from anxiety has really stunted my growth the past few years. I don’t have a lot of self confidence outside of the dragonboat world, so finding this community has meant a lot to me. It’s helped me find something that I’m good at and run with it. I might not be good at paddling but I’m good at drumming and that’s really all that matters.

I don’t know how we’ll go in China. I know that the competition will be tough and I’m not expecting to win anything. The experience itself will be amazing and I think that will be enough. I’m excited to get my uniform, because it’s fits much better this year than it did last campaign (pics to follow!) and I know that as soon as it gets closer I’ll be even more excited because it will seem more real than it does now. Right now it just feels like something that’s way off in the distance.

So that’s a bit of an off season update. There’s not too much to report on, other than I need to get my ass into gear again!  Stay tuned for photos of my Aus uniform and possibly photos of me rugged up in snow gear as I paddle in Melbourne winter waters.

Until then!

Nationals

My goodness … Where do I begin. What a whirlwind.

It’s been two weeks since Nationals now and I think I’m only just starting to catch up. As predicted, I got the post-nationals cold (no doubt from being out in the rain for 2-3 days) and I’m only just starting to recover now. It’s nice to be back at home with the boy and the guinea pig with a lot of stories to tell. Nationals was an intense five days and by the end of it I was really starting to feel it – and I wasn’t even paddling. It was five long days of early starts, late finishes and lots of nervous energy buzzing around the camp. I arrived at a reasonable hour on Wednesday night after my boss let me take off early to beat traffic, so I managed to get a good nights rest before the Masters days kicked off.

We shared our tent with Komodo from Canberra, Different Strokes from Sydney and Sloths from Sydney, and let me tell you, we had a ball. I got to see all my friends and it was awesome! Diagonal from us was my old club, Ice Dragons, from Canberra. I didn’t drum too many crews on the Masters days, only women’s, so I had lots of time to soak up the atmosphere and hang out with my folks, but the crews I did drum did amazingly well. It was a lot of fun to be on the front of the Masters boats because it’s such a different feeling and a different vibe. More mature, more focused sometimes. We got a Bronze and Silver medal in the Masters Division which was really exciting for us!

The weather was absolutely awful on State vs State day. It was pouring down with rain and within 5 minutes of warm up I was soaked to the core. having only one VIC state team uniform, that was also soaked within 5 minutes of the first race and I was relying on portable hand warmers on my back and on my chest to keep me warm. Unfortunately, said heat packs actually burned me to the point where I still have blisters on my boobs (Too much information?) and on my back. Rookie error. In the end I borrowed a jumper off Tim and my mother’s Rainbird to keep me warm in conjunction with the heat packs and I was on my way. To distract myself from the cold, I took photos of Darren sleeping.

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WAKEY WAKEY DARREN!!!!! (PS Steph wasn’t really asleep. But Darren was!)

I drummed two out of the three crews on the State Vs State days, including the 100m relay races which were really interesting to run. I haven’t participated in a relay race before and they are awesome! They were a little bit hard to coordinate because there’s so many people to have in marshalling, but it was great. Each team has a coloured flag and an official in their lane so you know when your boat has crossed the line and your other boat can start. It’s nerve wracking seeing all these other boats racing towards you, and then preparing to race back the other way but it’s so exciting.

We did really well and kicked NSW’s butt 🙂 Our Victorian team were really strong this year and we picked up some serious bling on State Vs State day. 3 Gold!

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Victoria, REPRESENT! (I’m in the third row, sitting down about one inch from the left, Mum) 🙂

It was also great to see my friends from ACT Fire (my old state team) who jokingly called me a traitor haha! Actually it was just nice to see some familiar faces in general including faces from my old club in Canberra, the Ice Dragons. There were lots of Jokes about me leaving that club and joining the Flames too.

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Rugged up in as many clothes as possible in a rare break from the rain

Our Prems days were a bit busier for me. I was on more crews – Still 200m, 500m, 2km but for for mixed and women’s. Perhaps the most memorable race for me was the 200m women’s race. We didn’t have one of the strong lanes and we were up against ACCA, Yarra River Dragons, and Te Waka (all very strong crews) and we fought really bloody hard. When we crossed the line, it looked like we might have come second, but then they announced it and we actually got first! (In an interesting turn of events, I might also add that YRD came 4th in that race.) There were tears of joy from some of the paddlers in the boat and it was such an amazing feeling to be a part of that. All of that hard work for the season really paid off for that single one minute race.

One of my other favourite races was the 2km sweeps race where we picked up a silver medal. Goodness me did my voice hurt after that race. YRD picked up the gold, but we managed to keep up a good time and take our corners really well and our paddlers just had an amazing rhythm which they held for the entire race. It was really fantastic to see them all lock in with one another and just thump the water with every stroke.

So, remember how I said I only wanted to come home with just one medal? Well … My haul was pretty damn impressive.

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BLING BLING!!!

Um …. WINNER!!!

We still managed to have our fair share of drama. Our men’s crew managed to somehow capsize right on the finish line unfortunately, but they still manage to pick up fourth place in the race, even with flipping over. They were going so well, then the next minute I see Darren take the sweep oar out, and apparently someone shifted their weight , or they caught a wash and then suddenly …  PLOOP! They just rolled over and they all went for a bit of a swim. Just quietly, I was pretty happy I wasn’t on that crew because I did NOT feel like going for a swim at any point during nationals. The weather just wasn’t ever that nice. They weren’t the only boat to capsize though …. 10’s boats awer awfully tippy, as I’ve mentioned before, and they got a big clap from everyone as they came back in. They dragonboat community is a damn nice one!

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Darren bailing the boat while everyone else just chills out.

It was great that we still managed to have some fun out there on the water too among all the seriousness. Our Irish captain, Aidan was great at keeping things light hearted, and trying to capture his own paparazzi paddling shot (“THEY’RE LOOKING GUYS! IT’S OK, I’LL PADDLE THE BOAT MYSELF!”). We had moments where we said realised it was Steph’s last race in Australia and proceeded to plash her (and everyone else in the boat) with water. We did the Flames star clap on the sidelines whenever we saw our boats come in to the finish line. We got around our team mates when things got tough. We made friends with people from different clubs. We were a damn good team. We ARE a damn good team.

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Action shot.

Nationals wouldn’t be Nationals without an after party. Buuuuuutt we didn’t go to it. Instead we had a team dinner (to which I decided to get extremely dressed up and got a compliment or two on my outfit) where we got the remainder of our medals and then we went back to Serge’s where we had vodka and wine and where I apparently fell asleep talking to Serge. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I fell asleep talking to my coach because I was drunk and tired. How fricking embarrasing. For someone who is Polish, I do not handle my liquor very well. Um, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT, MUM AND DAD?. (Just kidding. Apparently I’m a “sweet and lovable drunk”. I also happen to be very clumsy, spilling red wine everywhere. DAMMIT).

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Before getting drunk, and falling asleep whilst talking to my coach.

So there you have it folks. That is nationals in a nutshell.Now I’m back at work and I’ve had a couple of weeks off. I’ll probably head back to paddling socially on Sundays so I stay in shape because I’ve already over indulged in nachos and alcohol (I told you, I have no self control with nachos), plus it’ll be nice to just keep in contact with everyone. Will it be cold? Yes. of course. It’s Melbourne. But that will be half the fun. Paddling with a bunch of rad people, then going out for brunch afterwards and complaining about the cold. Two thumbs up!

That’s all for now! Until next time!

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!

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!

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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!

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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.

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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

Falls Creek Regatta aka Best Weekend Ever

When I lived back in Canberra, there was always one regatta that I loved the most – That was the Flowing Festival regatta held in Jindabyne, New South Wales. It was a ski town in the mountains with the most pristine water to paddle in, and the atmosphere was amazing too; markets and carnival rides all lined up along the shoreline, with music blaring from the start line and a great festival feel about it. Each of the dragon heads used on the boats had different colours and different faces – some with jewels, some with ribbons, and the boats were nicknamed “bathtubs” as they were so old, and as a drummer I had to sit on the nose of the boat without a chair. It was the best weekend away with my team mates, and it was my absolute favourite regatta.

Moving to Melbourne I knew I’d miss that regatta the most, but I definitely still travel around a lot with the team. However I was super excited when The Falls Creek regatta was announced because it was incredibly similar to Jindabyne. Falls Creek, a little ski town, up in the mountains, with pristine waters and a good 5 hour drive away from Melbourne requiring an overnight stay – meaning a great opportunity to bond with my coach and team mates.

My boyfriend, Reece, and I drove down to Falls Creek on Friday night after work, dodging wombats, and winding around the mountain roads after our GPS took us on a delightful detour out to Sunbury. Luckily, we were both amused by this and laughed about how we a) ended up in Sunbury, b) ended up on a rollercoaster of a country road (literally. Steepest descent ever!) and c) trekked along dirt roads before d) driving down the shadiest looking road ever and finding our accommodation at Falls Creek around 11pm.

Reece and I bunked down with in the boys cabin with Darren, Tim, Armin and John and we were delighted by the abundance of hot tubs and saunas within our accommodation. We set out for the regatta early the next morning and drove down to the race course, which reminded me so much of Jindabyne. That made me so happy! Beautiful mountain scenery, crystal blue water, clear skies …. Yup, being in the mountains was gorgeous enough, let alone being able to paddle my first regatta in such great water.

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Look at this view! And this water! It’s got nothing on the Yarra River!

Yes, you heard right folks …. I just paddled my very first regatta EVER in the 6 years of me doing this sport! I drummed two crews, the opens and the women’s and paddled in the mixed which was action packed.

My first race paddling, I shared with a lovely girl from Yarra River Dragons, Jordie, who had kindly filled in some seats on our team for us. For Jordie and I it was our first regatta paddling, and indeed our first race EVER and what should happen? Another boat runs into the side of us! I’m not even kidding … I’m doing my thang, paddlin’ my little heart out and in my peripheral vision I see this dragon head getting closer to me and I begin to think “Oh they’re gaining on us”, but then this dragon head gets a little bit closer, and then TOO close and before I know it, it’s hit the side of the boat I’m paddling on. Jordie and I have our paddles in the air, Darren (who was steering) was trying to push the other boat away from us, and we could feel the boat do this LURCH which only happens when you’re about to capsize … I remember thinking “That’d be right! My first race paddling and we capsize!” but we all somehow managed to hold on and finish the race in our lane and without any injuries. See? DRAMA. And it wasn’t even a 2km race!

Our opens crew missed out on making the finals, but they had some wicked competition, and the team we took down was only a small one. Yarra River Dragons were again out in force and looking fiiiiiiine on the water. They’re going to be HOT at Nationals this year, I can tell.

Our Women’s crew … Now this was awesome. We called ourselves the Flaming Storm because we were 1/2 boat Melbourne Flames and 1/2 Southern Storm paddlers.  Despite the fact that we had never paddled together before, and indeed never met each other before being put into a boat together,  we raced fast and hard and ended up walking away with a second place. Second to, you guessed it, Yarra River Dragons. So a pretty damn good effort!

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2nd place! Winners are grinners!

Look at that beautiful trophy!  And look at this new group of friends!

So after we wrapped up the regatta it was time for the after party. Y’all like party stories, right? Well, we started off by having a few drinks in the hot tubs and reminiscing on other regattas and Nationals and afterparties. Again, I bunked down with the boys (I had to be the girl that broke up the sausage fest in the hot tub. The “Chickie Buffer” if you please) and after our delightful hot tub and drinks, we got ready for dinner.

We had a team dinner at a little Italian joint up in the mountains which was amazing – I had to try hard not to eat everything everything that wasn’t nailed down. The pizza smelled amazing but I went for pasta instead. After cheers’ing to a great regatta and having some food, we met up with Yarra River Dragons and played some soccer, before moving on to playing some Bocce.

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Playing Bocce with rivals and friends, Yarra River Dragons. What a night!

After chilling out in the evening light, we decided to move back to the accommodation for some more fun. Everyone came down to our bunk, and we decided to crack out some drinks and some cards and have ourselves a Melbourne Flames party!

To start with, I want to say that our coach is a VERY bad influence on me when it comes to drinking vodka (3 shots in a row, Serge! Na Zdorovie!) and secondly I want to say that he is also very good at playing cards. I, on the other hand …. DISMAL. I can’t remember the name of the game we were playing, but the only object of the game was NOT to lose, and you bet your ass I lost ever time lol. We had a great time playing several rounds of this mystery game, which Reece ended up winning every time he played. (that’s how games usually work in our house! Reece wins, I lose!)

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This picture accurately represents what it is like to play this game.

So after our evening wrapped up we all rolled into bed. You really can’t argue with that for an after party … Drinks, hot tubs, games and cards. 10 out of 10: Would recommend.

You can check out some of the photos I took at Falls Creek on the Melbourne Flames Instagram page, and indeed other pictures I take! I am, afterall, part of their social media team!

Next thing coming up? State team trials. Then the Chinese New Year Regatta in Footscray! Two very exciting things coming up. I’ll keep you posted on how everything pans out.

Until then, this little drummer girl has one hell of a hangover to nurse! #weak

Carrum Cup / Resting Drummer Face

Behold: Resting Drummer Face. Similar to Resting Bitch Face, only there are also photos where we’re yelling so we look twice as delightful! RAWR! It’s possibly the most embarrassing photo face to have because it screams “DERP” at the camera.

There’s lots of photos of me sitting in the drummers seat looking down the boat – I think I’m meant to look fierce and serious but mostly I just have Resting Drummer Face (hereafter RDF) and look pissed off at the world. But I’m not! I swear! Mostly I’m just wishing I bought my sunglasses because it’s super bright out there on the water. Other times, I’m just DERP-ing along in my natural state. Ah yes …  The joys of not being photogenic….

Our next regatta coming up is Carrum Cup – About an hour out of Docklands this coming weekend. Our local club has a couple of crews entered which is great and it should be a pretty great day all in all. Weather wise, Melbourne s still can’t make up it’s mind if it’s Spring or Summer, so it’s only going to be a chilly 20C; a change from yesterday’s 34C at training!

Carrum Cup will be the last regatta for the year before we break for Christmas, then the first regatta in 2017 is Falls Creek, which sounds like it’s going to be a great weekend away in January. I’m still getting used to traveling around the countryside for each regatta, because back in Canberra each regatta was held in the same place at the same time. Here, it’s definitely more exciting, and it gives us a lot more experience in racing on different bodies of water which is great for Nationals which are held in a different place each year. We’ll be traveling down the morning of the Carrum Cup regatta, hanging out for the day and competing in 200m and 500m races and hopefully coming away with some bling for the club! 200m races are over before you know it, so I’m looking forward to getting some practice for these races under my belt.

So there you have it! A brief update. I’ll have more for you after this weekends regatta, so stay tuned.

Until then!

Rach x x

Big News! We’re Off To China!

Firstly, I’m sorry it’s been forever since my last update, but boy, do I have some news for you!

I’ll happily backtrack and fill you in on what’s been happening in a moment, but first, the moment I’ve been working so hard towards has come and gone, and I’m super pleased to announce that I MADE THE AUSTRALIAN TEAM!

We’re off to China folks, and I couldn’t be more excited! It 8 short months I’ll be packing my bags and heading over to Kunming and preparing to compete in the World Dragonboat Championships and I am beyond stoked.

So let’s back track a little bit shall we? Let me fill you in on the last few couple of months and how trials went.

I took about a month off training to start with after I slipped down the stairs in my house (ouch!) and only started to get back into training just before trials which wasn’t the most ideal situation. I went to a couple of regattas though (The Battle of the Barwon and the Horsham regatta) to maintain my drumming skills and presence within the club and was pleased to walk away with some great results from those regattas. I even got to drum for one of the Dragons Abreast teams in Horsham who came in Third and they kindly gave me a pennant to show their thanks! (Incidentally, if you want to see a video of me hip thrusting with the inflatable ghost in the picture tied to my waist, head to the Melbourne Flames Dragonboating Instagram Page!)

 

Ok, so on to the actual trials because I’m sure that what you guys are dying to hear about! I had my fan base travel all the way from Goulburn to cheer me on (Thanks Mum and Dad!) and support me as this was the hardest campaign for me to try out for thus far. To the best of my knowledge (and I could be incorrect here still) there were three drummers trialing for two spots on the team. What I do know, is that we were all damn good at what we do. Adelina, from the ACT, can both paddle and drum and has had plenty of experience in overseas campaigns before. On the front of the boat she was loud and in charge – definitely something you want in a drummer. Erin, the other drummer from Melbourne was equally as formidable – her voice booming from the sidelines, as her skills as a sweep shone through from the front of the both. Both of these ladies have extra skills that really make them valuable at the front of the boat, and I think whoever our coach picked, he was going to have a tough decision on his hands. We all offered different qualities and we’re all great at what we do.

The camp went for two days – Most of the tests on the first day were focused around the paddlers. There were fitness tests, and they were in single crafts showing their skills and my goodness, are some of those guys and girls fit and impressive! Honestly, some of them had such a lovely stroke on them that I could have watched them paddle for days … it was so soothing! The second half of the first day we did some 2km turn races. My favourite! Why? TOTAL. DRAMA. CENTRAL.  There’s boats crashing. There’s waves. There’s plenty of yelling. You have to rev up your team. Oh goodness me, there’s adrenaline and I love, love, LOVE it. We did three of those races switching Sweeps, and I loved working with Eliza and Darren. I work with Darren all the time so there’s a level of comfort and control with the boat there. Working with Eliza was great too because she brings this amazing energy to the boat and you just want to be a part of it!

We had dinner and a review of day one which wrapped up around 8:30pm, then day two of the camp kicked off the following morning at 8am. Again, there were some single craft trials for the paddlers and more on water tests for the whole crews with some short distance races which were great.  It was a shorter day wrapping up around 3:30pm so people could fly back to WA or QLD, but it was enough after the day before.

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The 2017 Auroras Trialists after the camp wrapped up in Docklands, Melbourne

I honestly didn’t feel confident getting in to this campaign – As a drummer, you never really know where you stand, and I felt as though this time I didn’t have as much time to show my skills as I had at previous camps. Sometimes you feel like the coach is never around you so he can’t see the skills you have on display, but I guess he’s always watching, right?  It helps that I’m lightweight which is also what you want at the front of the boat! Well … I could have been lighter. You know, we’ve talked before how I’m a sucker for a Mexican feast, and I confess to indulging in a few of those and a few vegan pizzas pre-trials. Alas! It all worked out.

What I’m most excited for is the opportunity to travel to a place that is so out of my comfort zone doing a sport that I love. Ever since I was little, I’ve had this fascination with China – My mum traveled there when I was about 5 years old, and she bought me back this ring that has Chinese symbols on it. I wear it every day, and I’m fascinated with the culture, and indeed this sport and now I get to travel to the country Mama K went all those years ago and follow in her footsteps, but paving my own while I’m there.

This is my second time representing my country and I couldn’t be more excited, or proud. It’s been a very long road to get here since June with a lot of ups and downs along the way but standing here getting to share the news with everyone that I made the team makes it all seem worth it.

I might not come home with a medal around my neck, but I know I’ll come home having grown as a person and that’s really all I’m looking for right now. With an experience such as this under my belt, what more could I possibly ask for?

Here’s to making the team! Paddles up!

Rach xx

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