Every now and again we like to share our passion. Therefore we were really excited when local news Channel 6 KSBY came and joined us on the boat!
We love Lake Castaic! A small contingent of paddlers from Central Coast SurviveOars joined up with a small contingent of paddlers from Newport Aquatic Center (NAC). The whole of these two bodies were greater than the sum of its parts. We are proud to announce that we were the fastest women's boat of the entire festival! We bring home the Gold in Women's Division A!
Our accomplishment of course didn't come without its struggles. On Friday we arrived to practice without any traffic - what a great venue! It's just 3 short hours away from here without having to go through LA. We were six for practice. Nettie's John watched from his perch in the shade and timed our practice run - it was a good time with just six - less than 1:30 for 250 minutes - not too shabby.
We went back to our hotel to freshen up to meet for dinner at Gyu-Kaku (Please ask Margaret the correct pronunciation - she makes it sound very appetizing) - a Japanese BBQ where BBQ pits adorn the table. We opted for a preset dinner menu for 6 though we were 7, we were confident we wouldn't go hungry. We are pretty sure we ate a good portion of an entire cow - there was filet mignon, sirloin, short ribs, skirt steak, pork belly, even some shrimp, salad, and more finishing it up with S'mores - because every BBQ needs to end with S'more no matter what culture the BBQ represents - it's a crossover dessert.
Next morning we get to the race venue at 8:30 - our first race being at 11:00. It was a beautiful morning - wasn't too hot, our spot was staked out thanks to Donna and Nettie. Our NAC paddlers were there - Barbara, Neddy, Denise, Kathryn and Joan. The atmosphere was relaxed - the venue was buzzing with excitement. Then we hurried up and waited. We went over the boat's seating: Roe and Carol Ann pacing, Missy and Nettie in the timing box, Barbara and Lynn our engine room, Kathryn and Joan leading the rockets with Donna and Margaret being the Rockettes. Neddy was at the helm and Denise at the Drum.
We get called up to marshal about 10:30 - wind is just picking up. We load the boats - Wind is howling. It's a wild ride out to the start line. We are constantly re-positioning ourselves and literally before we know it - we understand the race has started just has the dragon from another boat decided to kiss Lynn - Lynn being the faithful wife pushed that dragon out of our boat and we were off - two boats were way ahead of us but we were determined. Though I would love to say we caught up but we didn't - we came in third in that heat. We were stunned by the wind's force and how the race was started - some heard we have alignment - but most were still helping to position our boat into our lane with some feeling violated by the other boat's dragon. Amazingly the race once under way felt good. We all agreed that we did well despite the rocky (literally and figuratively) start.
Our next event was the Survivors' Ceremony. It was quite nice - we were all lei’d, which was a thrill and honored by all festival participants. After we went back to our tent to await our next race. Wind came down quite a bit for the 2nd race. We lined up and actually heard the calls of the start. We had a good beginning - these were 250 meter races - so much fun! The are done before we know it. We took first place in that heat which meant we were in Division A for the finals. Our goal was to make it into Division A - we hoped to medal, but we were pleased just to be in Final A.
Many minutes later it was our turn to go out for our last race. Nettie captained us to focus and advised us to leave everything on the water. I would love to say the wind was calm, but I can't. Poor Carol Ann pried for the equivalent of a 500 meter race before we even started. Finally we got lined up in the middle of our lane - we had alignment - we were ready - we were attention’ed and then we went and never looked back - we ran our race - a start, a power ten another power ten then a finish - we lurched further ahead in our finish - we were leaving nothing behind. We handsomely came in 1st. Lei’d and Medaled - it was a good day.
We made it home a little after 7:00. Again there was no traffic - it's a great venue. We hope that next year we can bring a bigger contingent to Castaic Lake - we want everyone to share in the camaraderie we experienced. What fun was had by all!
See you on the water!
What a wonderful way to open the 2019 race season! We had a fantastic weekend of racing, camaraderie, and WINNING!
We were in three divisions and a knock out division of 250's. Our first race was Women's division. It was the first time Corina raced. We had a very good time of 2:32. Our start was strong, we maintained our power during the body of the race and when we needed to finish it, we poured it on. Burt was at the helm and Leslyn at the drum. It was bitter sweet knowing that Leslyn's time at the drum was beating down. She is such an inspiration, strong leader and powerful race director.
Our next race was the first of two in the Survivors' division. We had Josie from NAC rounding out our 18 paddler boat. Josie joined us in Hungary, so it was welcoming home a family paddler. To get the Gold in Survivors' division, our times for two heats would be combined. Again, awesome start, strong body and powerful finish. Unfortunately, Team Survivor, San Diego's Sea Dragons with their 20 paddlers, eked out ahead be less than a half of second. We would have our work cut out for us in the final division. During the day, we were on the hunt for two more survivors that could fill our boat. Success was had when we obtained Jolane form Phantom Dragons and Linda from Wasabi.
One of the greatest things about Dragon Boating is the ability to blend and paddle. This was certainly the case with our two borrowed paddlers. The final heat for Survivor division again showed an awesome start, strong body and powerful finish, but we added to all parts an excelling of forward motion. We had to beat San Diego by 1 full second to get the gold. We managed 4. We left no doubt in anyone's mind that we are the Gold winners.
Saturday also included the semi-finals for Women and a Masters's heat. In the Women's division, about 8 teams would be cut - they weren't going to the finals. Remember this division was not a Senior or Masters division - it was not age specific - everyone on our boat has passed the 1/2 century mark. Another wonderful thing about Dragon Boating - age doesn't matter. Our Women's semi-final proved our best race of the day. We were well warmed up, fortified by good food and good cheer, and we had a challenge: "win this heat, and I'll buy you a round of beer!" The challenge was made by Carey - the MC of the festival. Carey has known us since we started - he was one of the coaches of the original clinic a group of 8 of us went to in Tempe. We accepted his challenge. And we came in first of that heat - dragon boat racing is fun - and the fun goes up exponentially when you are first!
The Masters division was a mixed division. Burt was in the boat paddling - our token male while Lynn was at the helm steering her first 500 meter race. It was good to feel the power of Burt! Good to hear him give it his all! Lynn as the steerswoman kept the boat steady, in our lane and over the finish line. Nothing but admiration for Lynn's ability, willingness to be in that very important and nerve wracking position. Lynn's "put me in coach" attitude is nothing short of heroic. The best we can say about the Masters division is that we didn't come in last - most other boats had up to 12 men - we held our own. But we didn't make the finals - which worked out, so we had rest time between our Survivor's final and Women's final on Sunday.
Saturday we left the race grounds invigorated and at the top of our game. Dinner was a fantastic affair. It was a great turn out. I learned the origin of the Adorables and how special they each are. It was great to hang out off the field. Thank you Mary for taking the task on - you did a fantastic job! I believe we were all in bed by 10 - did I mention we are all over the 1/2 century mark? However, this allowed us to return on Sunday still on top of our game.
Sunday Survivor's final felt amazing! We were connected and glorious. There is nothing as satisfying as looking ahead and not seeing another boat out of your peripheral vision, hearing the beats of the other drums fade and feel smooth undisturbed water. We won the Gold.
With a short break, we hydrated and psyched up for the Women's B final - we were one of the 12 boats that made the final cut. 6 went to Women's B and 6 went to Women's A. We knew we had our work cut out for us. Some of the times of the other boats were more than 10 seconds faster than our time. But we also know that we race our field - the faster the field the better is our time. Sandy and Rosana gave us our mission - medal in this division! And medal we did with focus, strength and connection - we brought home the bronze. Not too shabby!
Our final race was the Knock Out division. 6 boats start the division. We race 250 meters for each course. In the first run, last boat goes back to shore while the other 5 go back to the start line for round 2. After the second round, 2 boats leave the field and 3 boats go back to the start for the winner's round. Again, up to 12 men are allowed in the boat. Round 1 was a tight field - all boats fighting not to be last place. We made it! With Lynn at the helm for the second time of this festival and the second time in this division (she did it last year as well), we turned around and slowly went back to the start line. The second round was going to be tough - we had to maintain our focus and our technique to allow us to stay for the third round. We did it! We were one of three boats heading back to the start line. Our competition was two boats of 12 men/8 women, one boat was 65 years and older while the other boat was 35 years and younger. We came in 3rd but we held our own - we were three seconds of the first place winners - the kids and just 2 seconds off the 2nd place finishers. The kids couldn't believe how hard they had to paddle to beat the old geezers especially the boat with just one man. Oh but what a man!
We were fortunate enough to have a paddler from South Africa join us. Lenora paddles with a team in South Africa. She was a nice addition to our crew. She thanked us for including her so graciously and warmly - she said she doesn't always find that in other teams. Because of her geographic locations, her team goes to festivals once every four years. We chipped in and bought her a team shirt to send her home with along with the medals.
Terry and John Miron are amazing! They took on the job of feeding us during the festival. We were in want of nothing. They are incredibly generous, thoughtful and hardworking. From the bottom of our hearts - or should I say stomachs? Thank you!
Burt and Becky thank you for transporting the tables and the popups - you rock.
Janet and Gayle thank you for bringing the whiteboard and our paddles and vests. Thank you for letting us ride in your cars. Thank you.
Dave and Athena - Phoenix locals who come out every year to support us - thank you.
Thank you to all the non-racing supporters - I know Troy was there smiling and cheering us on as we came off the boat - invigorating! Don was there making sure we felt supported. And Bill - our score keeper extraordinaire! Thank you!
This festival marked Leslyn's last one until further notice - she'll be back (Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent). Mary, Donna and Rosana organized a gift of appreciation that we were able to present to her on the last day of the festival - Truly Leslyn it is just a token because there is nothing that comes close in showing our appreciation for everything you do. Your presence will be missed but your spirit, your lessons and your voice will be with us forever - and we just may need to Facetime out to the start line.
Finally I'd like to thank all the racers - of course non of this would have been possible without your commitment to the sport, the team but mostly to yourselves - we paddler stronger because we've committed to being stronger.
Sandy has posted on Facebook - videos and photos of the weekend - check it out. Sandy is an incredible photographer - and supplier of tattoos. Thank you
No doubt I am forgetting someone - so let me just say - EVERYONE added to this festival's experience. It was so good - so happy - so strong!