The Paddling Life

Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival 2017

lets do a bit of visualization  🙂

Imagine yourself sitting beside and around you is the family that you worked so hard with for last 10 months.  All the pain, sweat and possibly tears led up to this very moment- racing in Competitive A division finals at the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival. Boats are aligned and you take a breathe in and dial in. You wait for the four familiar phrases. “All boats hold. Paddlers are you ready? Attention Please! Honk! ” . And the final race begins.

This past weekend  was festival that my team and countless other teams were all waiting for – Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival. This festival is one of the biggest festivals in Canada, with 2200 paddlers and over 200 teams. Paddlers  from all around the world gathered to race against one another.  Though from different countries,  they have one thing in common –  the passion  for this sport. Even if you weren’t racing, you could tell that we were one loving, energetic, and supportive community.

For my boat, advancing into the Competitive A division was our goal. Hence, semi-finals was the most important race . We needed to take first or second place to advance into Comp A. Our competition was tough. We wanted it and the opportunity was there to take it. Our coach always said , “The opportunities are there if you want it, you just have to take it.” We were determined to take it. Each stroke we took, we felt the traction needed to make the boat surge forward. When our caller yelled to “take a seat”, you can bet on it that we gained a seat on our competitors.  We made our boat fly. Our team grunt at the end gave the loud and clear message that we gave it everything we had and left nothing behind. Looking back it now, we could say it was an almost perfect race. When we finished, we were anxious to know how we did. And we made it 🙂  According to our coach, we were in third for majority of the race. It was the finish that got us a ahead. We took 2nd place by 0.2 seconds. As you can imagine, we were overwhelmed with indescribable feeling. And all we could do was to hug and congratulate one another. The countless hours of  cold winter practices, the miserable oc days, and working out in the gym paid off. We made it to the Competitive A division. What was left after was to prove that we are a competitive team.

The most competitive and strongest team at the festival advanced to the Comp A division. To be able to race with such amazing teams, was an honour. To be able to race with our coaches’ team, One West, was even more of a blessing. They are a team we look up to very very much. From the outside, it looked like we didn’t do well. We placed 7th at 2 min (so second last :P), but to us placement didn’t matter. Because during that race, we felt like one team, one family. We gave it our all and left no regrets. And for us, that’s what mattered.

Though we didn’t medal, but I can leave you with this quote from one of my coaches

“Medals are won in the summer, but are earned in the winter”

Congratulations to all the teams and thank you for making this year’s festival so memorable 🙂 ❤

PS: And my one of my coaches did something we never imagined him to do. After our 2KM Guts and Glory race, he came down to the dock and gave us each a giant hug as we got off the boat. I guess its his way to show how proud of how far this once Recreational team has come. ❤



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