ms. fresh fish

Dragon Boat Festival
June 25, 2007, 6:14 am
Filed under: events, ottawa, Sports

I took part in my second Dragon Boat festival this past weekend at Mooney’s Bay. Last year I was a paddler – one amongst twenty. This year however, I was the drummer. Rather, I was in the position of the drummer but after realizing in the first race that I am incapable of drumming and yelling at the same time, I became “the yeller” in the second race and used the drum for celebratory purposes only.

A few people have asked what the drummer/yeller does, so here’s my understanding (limited as it may be): In dragon boating, synchronisity is what makes or breaks a team. Each of the twenty paddles should rise and fall at the same time, and the drummer is the pace-keeper. Basically, I counted to 10, over and over again. If I’d been able to work the drum, or more accurately, if the drum had been intelligeable to the back of the boat, I could have drummed to keep the pace and then yelled out words of encouragement or correction. But the drum wasn’t intelligeable beyond the half-way point of the boat and my voice almost made it to the back of the boat, so the voice won.

The first race was a… learning experience. After a bit of a mix-up, a bit of miscommunication, and a bit of panic against a very strong headwind, we finished in just over 3 minutes and most importantly did not get disqualified.

We were primed for the second race though. We had a debrief after the first and discussed what worked and what didn’t. Then, like good bureaucrats, a team of 5 went off to pull together a powerpoint presentation and another 5 went off to write a briefing note about “lessons learned”… I kid. But seriously – we figured out the weak spots, took recommendations and changed up our strategy.

We did not, however, account for the possibility of being flanked by two boats with limited steering abilities. Right off the gun (and we had such a good start, which as you can imagine, is key) the boat in the lane to our left starts coming right for us. Joanne, our phenomenal steerperson, managed to avoid a collision by a hair only to then be faced with the boat to our right coming into our lane repeatedly for over half of the rest of the race. That combined with our even worse head wind left us with a slightly slower time than our first race, but at least we didn’t have ourselves to blame. Boatylicious did as best we could under the circumstances.

All in all though, a fun day and great experience. I just wish I still had a voice.


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Thought the team did amazing considering the obstacles we faced. Sorry that the little drummer girl lost her voice, but we would have been lost without her voice on Saturday. Have I mentioned that I saw our coach from last year without his shirt on. Perhaps I have – just can’t get that out of my mind.

Comment by Joanne

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