Vancouver, BC - June 21-22
Is it Prom already?
|Black||Comp A Championship||7th (2:00.92)|
|Guts & Glory||8th (13:05.69)|
|Red||Rec B Championship||4th (2:14.63)|
|Men||Open Division Consolation||3rd 2:13.56)|
|Women||Comp A Championship||6th (2:21.60)|
|Women||Guts & Glory||8th (12:04.55)|
Fantastic weekend for the paddlers who represented LARD as well as the Long Beach dragonboat community! This was an exciting weekend on and off the boat, and I hope everyone has fond memories of our trip together.
The coaches expected a strong showing from all our crews, but you guys blew our expectations away. Your intensity and determination were clearly evident the whole weekend, starting from the warmups to the mental drills and to the moment you stepped on the boat. The competition was fierce for every division, so pats on the back for everyone. We train and work hard as a team, so every success is a team success. For LARD Black to make Comp A is mind-boggling, and for LARD Red to place in the top half of the entire recreational division is a great accomplishment. The women's squad should be very proud of competing against some of North America's top crews. The men's squad showed true toughness by racing multiple times in the same hour and doing well against guys that train together many times a week.
Please give a big thanks to Jessica and Megan for being our callers. They did an awesome job of commanding the boat and directing our controlled aggression. Thanks to Leon and Gary for being the guiding force in the back. We should also thank Betty for joining us and being part of this unforgettable weekend. Any LARD alumni is always welcome to come back!
LARD Red, you guys showed great teamwork and paddled your hearts out against some very strong Canadian teams. To put it in perspective: there are about 70 teams in the recreational division, and you guys placed in the top 24. Your willingness to fine-tune and your eagerness for self-improvement had produced your best race on Sunday afternoon. The progress from Saturday to Sunday was tremendous, and proves that LARD's present and future will be shining brightly.
LARD Black, your races were exhilarating and indicated an all-out effort to compete against the top teams in North America. There has really been no other team from California to make it to Mixed A, so this is truly an honor for this team and for our paddling community. We are now in some elite company, and other teams now view you as an elite team to watch out for.
LARD Women, your performance and journey to Comp A was amazing. Some of the women had to basically finish their race and then immediately marshal for the women's semi-final. Even though the coaches were scrambling around on both days to find a pair of non-LARD paddlers, the women's confidence did not faze at all. It was a very prideful moment for the guys when we stood on the side and watched the LARD women line up next to False Creek and 3 Wasabi teams in the Comp A final.
LARD Men, the paddling marathon on Sunday afternoon was a true test of how strong and tough our guys were. The Red final was at 3:20pm, the Black final was at 4:26pm, the open division consolation was at 4:37pm, and the Guts & Glory was right after that. The men on Red paddled 1000m in a span of about an hour, and the men on Black paddled 3000m in a span of an hour. To see all the guys pumping each other up, no matter how fatigued you were or how many races were left, indicated the teamwork and camaraderie that we need to succeed.
There are some paddlers that unfortunately couldn't make it up there. However, you guys are a vital part of the team, and we'll need you at the upcoming race. Every paddler is an important piece of our puzzle, and this team can't be at full strength unless all the pieces are in place.
With the Long Beach festival looming ahead, it is imperative to keep our intensity and focus at an all time high. The coaches are asking you to raise the bar even more. We need to train harder and carry this momentum into the next target race. If you missed a stroke, or if you got tired, or if your timing was a bit off, use that as fuel for your training on and off the boat. There are only 4 weekends of practice left. Other teams will be training hard to beat us on our home turf, but no one has seen the best of LARD yet.
P.S. - The last Guts & Glory race was probably one of the most exciting races I've ever been in. If you want more detail, we can give it to you at practice...
To those who made the trek to Vancouver, I hope y'all had a safe and restful flight back home. I believe the last of our bunch returned Tuesday evening, including a handful that headed out to Whistler. To our LARDmates and friends who were with us in spirit, I hope the race updates came soon enough! As you've all heard by now, either through the Scott-Jane-Jeff grapevine or festival site (adbf.com), our 9th (!) visit to this tried and true venue turned out to be another memorable one:
Congratulations on another amazing race weekend. You should all be proud of what we were able to achieve, as the results reflect everyone's hard work and commitment, both on and off Mother's Beach, regardless of roster designation. Though I'm still feeling a mix of excitement and disbelief, I'm particularly proud of our teamwork, and simply happy for those who were there to experience this moment. Whether it was your first race at Alcan, first tournament with the team, first DB race ever, or if you've raced with the team at Alcan since it took place in front of the Plaza of Nations, and before the circus came into town (Cirque de Soleil), I hope this was a meaningful one to you. As we look ahead to Long Beach in just 4 weeks, I hope moments like these--where we surprise even ourselves and perform beyond our expectations--continue to inspire and motivate you to push hard for your teammates through the rest of the season. We're big dogs, too! At last weekend's race you just wouldn't have known from looking at us during pre-marshalling, as we probably gave up 15-20lbs/paddler to our competitors :-)
What stood out most to me from a performance standpoint across all of our crews is that we're becoming a better festival (two-day) race team. Physically, we're recovering much faster; our pieces simply felt more consistent from heat to heat. Mentally, it seems that we're also becoming more disciplined in preparation for, and during our races. Rows 5-8, fantastic job!
As Otto mentioned, a BIG thanks again to our paddlers-turned-callers, Jessica and Megan. Both of you stepped into a very critical position on the boat when the team needed you most for these races, and really just performed beautifully. As Tiffany and Huay can attest to, there are so many elements--physical or otherwise--that a caller often adapts to in preparation for (and during a race) in order to keep the team focused and driven. You both picked up on this very quickly, and would have made both Tiff and Huay proud!
Having said that, I'd also like to extend a huge thanks to Diane, Jessica, and Ev Wah for being such diligent race managers (both in preparation for, and during the festival weekend); Bill for transporting our paddles; Nick C for supplying us with cold water (and the means with which to transport it!); everyone that made it to Friday's practice for their patience throughout an unexpected hour-long eye-dotting/aboriginal ceremony *after* our 4-5 practice session;
Also thanks to Matthew for his inspirational steering and push throughout G'nG and not backing down; Leon and Gary for their steely nerves and skillful race steering; Betty for re-joining us from SF to paddle; Phil for documenting nearly every minute of our experiences; fellow coaches for all of their unwavering dedication to this team; HPC for their continued support with the resources and knowledge to make LARD stronger; volunteer paddlers we befriended in the Vancouver community (Treasa, who we will undoubtedly keep in touch with, along w/ Linda, Lindsay, and Karen from TD Lightning); and Leon and Wynne for organizing all of our post-race and post-festival activities, from our wonderful Sat team dinner at the Top of Vancouver, Sunday dinner at Shabu-sen, and Monday's relaxing bike tour. I hope I'm not forgetting anyone, as the list could really go on, but you get the idea. Thank you, teammates.
My apologies for the deferred write-up to such a memorable weekend, work gets in the way sometimes :-) Keep up all the hard work, Long Beach is going to be another dogfight! I look forward to seeing y'all down at practice again soon.
Go teamLARD! Jason
Lilly Chen (TXE)
Meet my family. Correction, meet some of my family.
We laugh, cry, love, live and celebrate together. But most importantly, we train together. Toughing it out on the weekends, arriving at the Mother’s Beach at 7am on Saturdays so that we can get an additional hour of water time; 8am on Sundays for extra land training - training that includes, but is not limited to, running 2 laps (approximately half a mile), followed by 25 squats, pushups and sit-ups. Now do that 4 times, as fast as you can!
These are the people I spend my weekends with. They are my dragonboat family and together, we are the Los Angeles Racing Dragons (teamLARD).
I recently spent a victorious weekend up in Vancouver, Canada with my extended family. We were competing at one of the largest dragonboat tournaments in North America, the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragonboat Festival. There were over 160 teams registered for the event: teams from all over the West Coast, of all ages, and of all backgrounds. We raced against breast cancer survivors, high school students, and some of the burliest men and women in the sport.
The team’s first race of the weekend was the women’s race. Even though the men weren’t expected to be in any of the races until 11am, everyone showed up at the race site for the 8:22am heat for moral support. The ladies kicked some serious butt, finishing second out of eight teams. This set us up for the rest of the weekend, and placed us into the competitive division.
This year, LARD was fortunate enough to have a strong showing of paddlers who wanted to make the trek to Vancouver. We brought up 2 full crews – approximately 45 paddlers. For the mixed (co-ed) races, there was the Black team – fueled by the competitive, hardcore paddlers that are also training hard for the National races to be held in Long Beach at the end of July; and the Red team - a recreational based team whose potential should never be underestimated. That being said, I am on the Black team and below is what I considered the highlight of the weekend...
Fast forwarding to the Black team’s first race of the day, it went something like this:
“Paddlers we have alignment. Attention please!” *Air horn*
And we were off! It’s hard to describe the rush of adrenaline in a competition like this. All I could think about was staying in time with the rest of the boat. I was sitting in the third row, so it was (and always is) imperative that I keep time with the first 2 rows. It’s a team sport and it is no different than synchronized swimming. Every stroke must be in time with the stroke of the paddlers in front, behind, and to the side of you. One slip up simply counters the efforts of the entire team, which could mean the difference between finishing in first or second place.
In the seven years that I’ve been racing, I’ve learned to keep my focus in the boat and this race was not supposed to be any different. Yet, I remember pulling up to the finish line and thinking “Gosh it’s awfully quiet up here….” Next thing I know, the drummer is calling “EASY ALL!” and we were all by ourselves at the finish line. Black had come in first at 2.05.150 minutes – second place didn’t cross the finish line until 6 seconds later.
The rest of Black’s weekend was built on this spectacular race and the team found itself in the Competitive A Division finals. Not just any finals, but the Competitive A Division finals -- the highest division possible. After years of participating at this tournament, teamLARD was finally considered part of the cream of the crop. We were the only non-composite2 Californian team in the finals, something unheard of for at least the past 5 years.
Lining up for the finals was intimidating in itself. One teammate kept pointing out how we were the smallest crew out there, but we weren’t about to let the bigger teams squash us. In the back of our minds, we were determined to NOT come in last. Sure, it’s glorious enough to be in the Comp A finals, but we had to prove that we deserved the spot.
Boy did we show the crowd what we were made of and we proved to ourselves that the hard work paid off. We finished the race 7th out of 8, at a time of 2.00.920 minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a boat that was so close to breaking the 2 minute mark!
At the end of the weekend, teamLARD ranked as follows: Black: 7th overall; Red: 48th overall; Women: 6th of 32 teams; Men: 11th of 13.
In light of the success LARD achieved at Vancouver, we are in the process of forming a team to compete in an international competition in Poland this September. Until then, training continues for the upcoming US National Qualifiers, held in conjunction with the annual Long Beach Dragonboat Festival, to be held during the last weekend of July.
All that being said, thanks for the continued support of my weekend hobby3; without it, I would not have this story to share.
Craig (Robles), Vicki