Ra Ra, Rawdon!


Photo credit: Beatriz Mora

Verdun recently competed in the Rawdon Festival, a welcome break from the more intense competitions in the Triple Crown trifecta (H20, Montreal Challenge, Quebec Cup). Set in the Lanaudière region in southwestern Quebec, the competition featured three races (400m, a 200m sprint, and a 400m finale), set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rawdon’s forests and sandy beach. 


Photo credit: Marian Pinsky

Verdun, Verdun, Verdun IMPACT!

Rawdon was Verdun Impact’s 2018 maiden competition! As the community level team is currently  in a transition year, focusing more on technique and building up the roster of new and seasoned paddlers, it was a valuable opportunity for paddlers to get a good taste for racing.

Impact came together in an admirable way for a team that had only been training for two months. The final 400m race had them coming from behind in a surprising burst of energy, ending up in second place in Division D! And this was in spite of the fact that the drummer’s seat was loose throughout the entire race, resulting in a very rocky and nerve-wracking ride… Kudos to drummer Randy for sticking it out, hanging on with all conceivable limbs, and still managing to echo the Coach’s bellowed commands!


Photo credit: Marian Pinsky

Newly inaugurated Impact Captain Susie rose to the challenge, expertly keeping track of race times, line-ups, and ensuring the team was warmed up, mentally prepared, and ready to race!

The Uniqueness That is Rawdon

Ironically, paddling isn’t the hardest part of the Rawdon Festival… It’s lining up the boats!

Unlike the Olympic Basin where most of the competitions take place, equipped with buoys demarcating clear lanes, Rawdon’s natural wildness adds a unique challenge to races. The beautiful lake has a noticeable twist in its design, making it difficult to accommodate long straight distances. For that reason, the customary 500m races were reduced to 400 meters in order to circumvent the awkward turn in the last 100m stretch.

Without a dock, it took forever to line up the boats to the marshalling official’s satisfaction! Sudden cross-winds would push boats out of their careful alignment, necessitating an agonizingly long process of constant re-adjusting. This was accompanied by regular bellows of “Back it down, Boat 3!”, “Two strokes forward, Boat 4!” and finally that long-awaited, “EVERYONE, HOLD YOUR BOATS!!” (We were sure someone would need to resuscitate the extremely stressed dock master, baking in the sun, getting increasingly more irritated as the day progressed…). But professionals that we are, we were not fazed in the least!


Photo credit- Jacinthe Lapierre

Verdun Women in Full Force!

Verdun’s fierce Women’s sports team, Vie Force, were eager to repeat last year’s stellar performance, where they left with Silver (see “Verdun Rocks on at Rawdon!” for an exciting review of last year’s festival)!


Photo Credit- Jacinthe Lapierre

As we set out to prepare for the early races, we all took in the gorgeous natural surroundings. Vie Force Captain, Meghan, used this opportunity to lead a team exercise where we got into our line-up in the boat and jogged in unison. As we set off at a steady pace, the thundering of our feet were punctuated by calls of “Go!” where girls in the last row would sprint ahead to the front, taking their turn at the helm of the ‘boat’, to be replaced soon after by the subsequent row. This contributed to our cohesiveness as a team on the water, and reinforced the importance of each paddler’s efforts to the whole.

As the women boarded and headed off, one paddler quipped, “Let’s Get Wacky”.


Photo credit: Jacinthe Lapierre

V-Force incorporated an aggressive start and transitioned to long and powerful strokes in the 400m races. As we prepped for the 200m sprint, veteran paddlers told newcomers, “It’s basically like one long blink; a start and a pick-up and just keep going!” A solid performance made all the more commendable as many of the girls had to forego their usual paddling side in favor of boat balance.

Coach Sheri Cameron reminded the team to keep strokes long and deep, emphasizing an asymmetric tempo of “Fast in the water, long in the air”. With this game plan, we quickly gained on the other teams and plowed past them in a triumphant burst of power! What a feeling to finish the final 400m race and look around, only to see the water clear, and the other boats far behind us!

Our performance earned us first place in Division B! This was a win made all the more triumphant as we were competing against some tough contenders, many of whom had raced in the World’s Dragon Boat competitions in Hungary, just two weeks prior! Champagne all around!


Photo credit: Beatriz Mora

A Surprise Race?

An impromptu pick-up 400m race for the Men’s teams completed the race day, with Verdun joining forces with their usual arch nemesis, RBC (*gasp!*), in a unique display of collaboration.

Twin brothers (and rival coaches), Ira and Jode Lax, set aside their fraternal competitiveness – the joint team swore that non-verbal communication must have been used, as while not a word was spoken between the steerer and drummer, the bros still managed to communicate the best strategy for the race. The impromptu new team, Verdun-RBC, left with a solid bronze in their performance- well done, guys!


Photo credit: Marian Pinsky

Paddle, Race, Compete… EAT!

Rawdon is also the site of Verdun’s much-anticipated annual team-building BBQ!

With enough food to feed all of 22Dragons, the picnic benches audibly creaked under an abundance of delicious homemade salads, various options of beverages and chips, and the most impressive array of assorted desserts. BBQ kings Naeem and Matt skillfully navigated between multiple BBQs, flipping burgers, checking on steaks, and the seasoned pieces of rubber passing for vegetarian hotdogs 😉


Photo credit: Marian Pinsky

A quick dip at the beach, and then let the eating begin! We’re not all about work at Verdun!

 Rawdon group pic
Photo Credit: Camille Heyen-Dubé

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