Vancouver - June 16 & 17
|Black||Comp C Championship||1st (2:05.50)|
|Black||Guts & Glory||6th (11:28.320)|
|Red||Comp D Championship||8th (2:21.39)|
|Men (Guppies Composite)||Open Consolation||5th (2:17.530) & 6th (2:18.53)|
|Women (Guppies Composite):||Comp A Championship||7th (2:27.17)|
|Women||Guts & Glory||5th (13:24.04)|
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who made it up to ALCAN this year. And also a bigger thanks to the LARD Directors and Coaches that made ALCAN happen.
While other teams may experience cycles or plateau, year after year our team just gets bigger and stronger. In 2005, LARD's single mixed crew took first in Rec A, and a mere 2 years later, in it's ALCAN debut, LARD Red surpassed this benchmark by breaking into the Comp Division. At the same time, LARD Black successfully defended it's Comp C title. These results are things the past few years of LARD members could only dream about. You all help it come to fruition.
I hope everyone had a chance to experience some exciting races this weekend. It's always good to go to tournaments like these to know how the team stacks up against the world's top teams. (the False Creek Mixed team that we raced against took 2nd in last year's Club Crew World Championships).
Our next tournament is coming up very soon. July 28 and 29th to be exact.
I'm so psyched for this race. We'll be at full power both Red and Black (hopefully a 3rd team as well), so we'll be able to put the hurt on all teams at each division. The evite will be out shortly.
I see how strong this team can be. Let's get there together. I'll see you all at practice.
Just wanted to echo the coaches' sentiments by extending a huge thanks to everyone for your tremendous support in preparing the Vancouver crews to represent LARD at the Alcan Races this past weekend. It was encouraging to read all the well-wishes from previous members and all of you who were unable to make the trek (Thank you, Betty, for the Good Luck notecards and DumDums!), and I'd like to emphasize how much our performance and accomplishments reflected everyone's efforts and commitment at both weekend and, for the first time EVER, mid-week (Wed) practices the past few months. As any coach will attest to, it's always hard to travel competitively, and it's staggering how large a crew we were able to bring up to Vancouver this year (45)!
As everyone has read, the Vancouver crews represented LARD very well. Defending a Comp C title, having the Red crew break into the Competitive bracket (!), and having the LARD and KG Women's team competing in the Women's Comp A Division, however, were by no means accomplished without a fair share of challenges throughout the weekend....
To provide some context, LARD registered 2 mixed crews, 2 combined Men's crews w/ the Guppies, and an additional combined Women's crew. What was unique about the Women's Division races this year is that each crew would be racing twice a day, whereas each Men's crew would only be racing once (each day); there were a total of 4 races (2/day) for each Mixed crew.
Because the Women's Division races were scheduled first both Saturday and Sunday, 8am and 8:22am, respectively, our entire team (imagine a mob outfitted in red attire) would head out to the race site between 6:30-7 each morning to allow adequate time for warming up, conducting mental drills, and mashalling, despite having Mixed Division races much later in the morning (9:50, 11:40). I'm quite certain there were plenty of other mixed teams who were not there to cheer on their women crews for these earlier races, and I think it speaks volumes about how strongly we support one another as teammates and friends that all the guys, and girls who weren't seated for that particular AM race, showed their support by heading over together.
As little practice as our combined Women's team had in Long Beach, they performed like a single unit throughout the weekend, regardless of which paddlers were rostered. Each successive heat resulted in a stronger finish, and to be honest, I watched in horror/disbelief/excitement in Sunday's semi-final race when the Women firmly held, and even extended, their 3rd place position towards the finish to qualify them for the Comp A Division! That transient sense of horror--due to my conviction that they would certainly have medaled in Comp B--quickly subsided as I realized what a huge accomplishment they had just made.
Similarly, our Mixed Red crew's performance throughout the weekend was nothing short of amazing. Mike and Margie (first-time stroke!) led a very dynamic crew of both core/new paddlers and Anteaters to a level of competition that no one had foreseen, as both of our Mixed crews headed into Sunday's Comp Division Semi-Finals in back-to-back heats! Their strong performances on the final race of each day--one that qualified them for the Comp bracket, and the latter being the final race that Scott called b/c Huay needed to catch her flight--really demonstrated how well they were able to make the adjustments needed to improve as a crew following each post-race discussion. Their second race on Saturday was particularly impressive, and thanks to Scott and Vi, we actually have video of both crews' races from that day. Hopefully the entire team will be able to view these clips after our next scheduled on-water video session.
As for our Black crew's performance, led by strokes Karen and Megan, defending our Comp C title was especially gratifying for various reasons. The most immediate of these, for me, was simply that our crew did not run a solid semifinals race earlier, falling to 4 of the 8 teams who moved on to Comp B...teams that we had beaten in Saturday's races. That we were able to collect ourselves, identify what went wrong, and come back in the Comp C finals to execute a great piece (where we took off from the start and never looked back) felt great. And well, qualifying for Guts and Glory with a Mixed crew, along with our combined Women's crew, was just icing on the cake...bittersweet, but icing nonetheless :-) Additionally, this was a different crew from last year, composed of several paddlers who had only joined the team at the start of this season, so repeating our success on this stage of competition seemed unbelievable.
An additional logistical challenge facing us for this tournament came in the form of a herneated disc, Scott's to be exact :-) The coaches had planned for 2 designated steerspersons for Alcan (Leon and Gary), but the unexpected back injury left us with only Leon to steer for both of LARD's Mixed crews, as Gary filled in for Scott. Thankfully, our sister team DieselFish also made the trek to Alcan, and one of their coaches, Chris, happily steered a few of our crucial races on Sunday; we would return the favor as Leon also steered for a couple of their heats. On a related note, we were able to lend DF our carbon paddles on Saturday, as their equipment (20 carbon fiber paddles, vests, and banner) never made it up to YVR from SFO for the races. It was great having their tent right next to ours, and when the opportunity arises again in Long Beach, I encourage the rest of the team to meet DF.
They truly are my 'LARD' away from LARD...
From the strong core of UCI paddlers who joined our mixed crews, to the Guppies with whom we joined forces with in the Men's and Women's Division Races, and to our sister team DieselFish, whose coach steered for several of our crews, it was a wet Vancouver weekend defined by a lot of great teamwork, both on and off the water. As everyone begins to post their pics from this past weekend, and from the novel I've just written (my next volume, someday, will talk about LARD's inaugural Guts and Glory 2000m race :-), I hope all of you can relive the excitement and continue adding to the momentum of our 10th season, one that began in Tempe! Keep paddling, and I look forward to seeing all of you again soon.
Phew – thanks Scott for the update – I was so exhausted on the airplane and kept passing out from the suspense of wondering how LARD finished the competition. (ok. I was sleeping) Can’t wait to hear details about the Guts and Glory AND the beer tent after-party...
I keep thinking I’m getting too old for this, but after every summer – I decide that I just can’t get enough of LARD and I keep coming back. It was so fun to be around you guys this weekend! Great job - I can’t wait till September’s race...
Thanks to all that helped make the Vancouver trip go so smoothly. Setting LARD precedents – bringing up the largest group to Alcan ever! – isn’t easy, and without all the support, simply wouldn’t be possible. Special thanks go to the following individuals:
Race Managers – We all saw Evelyn running around the race letting us know what team in which heat, what boat in which lane, when to marshall at where, etc. Now consider the fact she had to manage almost four teams and control the Guppies/LARD composite heats. And Vi? If you didn't see her during the race, it was because she was across the shore by herself, videotaping us all damn day! A super special thanks to our seasoned Race Managers, for doing those extra tedious-but-necessary chores that would make winning impossible.
Coaches – Thanks for your organization, direction and leadership. A special thanks to Scott and Leon for making it out to Vancouver even without the chance to paddle – dedication at it’s best. It’s no wonder our coaches are such shining stars in the TeamLARD history.
Great thanks to all our paddlers. If anything but a lesson to our newer paddlers, it is clear that TeamLARD is a team that is set apart from the community. We not only paddle as a team, we warm up as a team, cheer as a team, and clean house at races as a team.
What I’m looking forward to now is sweeping trophies as a team at Long Beach!!
Vancouver was my first major race with LARD. It was also my first race since moving back from Seattle so it was exciting for me even before it started. I was so excited to be back with LARD that I RSVP’d to the race evite even before I had moved back to California. Unfortunately I hadn’t talked to my friends on the team or the coaches beforehand so I was later told that it took them a while to figure out who I was.
One of the first things that hit me was how organized LARD was. They had practices scheduled and everyone was kept apprised of when to be where and how long they had between races.
This was the first year that we made it into the coveted Guts and Glory race. At first, the thought of a 2k meter race was extremely daunting. Leon took a lot of the pressure off when he told us to use it like a victory lap. We weren’t doing it for time. We were just happy that we had gotten in.
We learned a very valuable lesson this year. As many of us were new, we didn’t know the significance of the LARD parka. Similar to my previous experience at Vancouver, this year was cold! I was never able to stay warm after warming up. Only about half the team had a parka so the parkas were constantly changing hands and keeping someone warm. Needless to say, we all ordered a parka when we got home.