“Paddles to the Left, Paddles to the Right!”
This past weekend, the dragon boat deities smiled down upon Verdun’s Impact, Force, and women’s teams as we competed at the 22D Dragon boat festival in gorgeous wild Rawdon! Legendary for the beach are their unorthodox race lengths, featuring a deceptively difficult small bend at the finish which every steerer dreads…
Delivering at Rawdon!
Defying predicted forecasts of 90% chance of rain, the teams trained, prepped, and delivered on the water, coming up with a respectable 3rd place D final for Impact, 2nd place B final for Force, and the (as-yet-nameless) fierce Women’s team bringing home the Silver in Final A under sunny skies! Verdun showed Rawdon how it’s done.
With a tail wind at our backs, the teams showed their mettle on the water in spite of the race course being adapted to unusual two 400m races and one 200m sprint, rather than the customary 500m and 250m races.
While there was a fair amount of confusion of the multiple “pink (dock) girls” creating mass havoc at the docks as boats loaded, competed, and returned; moody and hungry officials who bellowed French obscenities if directions were not complied to immediately, it was a terrific experience for all to compete on ‘real’ waters, as opposed to at the Olympic Basin or Lachine Canal.
“A Truly Gutsy Race!”
Weeks of targeted technique training paid off as Impact gelled together, shaving off a full six seconds off the final 400m race. Coach Ira E. Lax debriefed the teams, incorporating our secret “Back Eight!” technique, giving leverage for the dramatic final seconds. Force gave honor to their name, coming neck and neck with rival boats.
Joined by members of Senior Women’s and RBC, the Women’s team ended with a “truly Gutsy race!” in Coach Sheri Cameron’s words, as video footage of the dramatic nail biting final 400m shows them forging ahead in the lead – until the final few seconds when rival team BananaShip pulled a surprise from behind finish.
But it was the 200m that really astounded the crowd as the boat shot forward with a strong start and maintained their positions a full boat length and a half ahead of the other teams! Bravo ladies!
Huge kudos goes to the women’s team for lightning fast reflexes when race officials called the start while they were still drawing to straighten up with the other boats.
And then there was the controversy of divided loyalties with Verdun Women racing against the Tiger Lillies, making our Petula having to choose between the Blue or the Orange… ;).
Verdun DBC: Teammates On and Off the Water
The sense of camaraderie in Verdun’s DBC is something to behold – paddlers will volunteer to fill in on a boat at the drop of a paddle (see what I did there? ;)), and you will always see team members loudly cheer on our teams from the sidelines with enthusiastic bellows of “VerrrrdUUUUUUN!!” giving tired paddlers that last burst of energy.
The Verdun Dragon Boat Club is about so much more than training and competitions – it’s about building community, both on and off the water! Every year, we bring out the BBQ for some serious chowing down- careful pre-race nutritious diets took a backseat as we devoured salads galore, an assortment of delis and meats, and an incredible spread of delectable desserts care of Camille and Angela. Not to mention Mr. Puffs!
From BBQ King Naeem to ‘chicken lady’ Tammy, Verdun celebrated a solid race day to a background of music, friends, laughter and food, as we clinked champagne in plastic cups to celebrate the victory of the women’s team, before diving into the BBQ. Go Verdun!