Well, what can I say!!! What a race report to be asked to do!!
I was suddenly woken by my alarm at 6am.This was it ! The day had finally arrived for my first Dragon boat race. I looked out of the window to see it still raining but this did not dampen my spirits. It was at this point the adrenalin first started I suddenly felt a bit nervous but also very excited about my first race event.
At 7.15 Myself and Ann set off up the M40 the rain had stopped and the cloud started to clear and in the distance the sky looked blue and clear. I arrived at 9 am just in time to help get the boat off the trailer. We carried the boat we would be racing in down the tow path and along the bank until we found a suitable place to slide the boat in to the water. Once we had done this we went to our allocated area and set up the gazebo. David (Team Captain) called us all together to give us our proposed positions in the boat and confirmed our first race was at 10.40am at this point the nerves started and the Bacon sandwich I had just eaten was starting to give me indigestion. My first thoughts were I wished I hadn’t eaten that.
At about 10am Kevin called all the group together to do a warm up which seemed to go on forever and by the end of it I was already totally knackered. However I did Manage to make Malcolm look good with a few stretches which didn’t quite go to plan. From our warm up we had a group huddle and talked tactics basically start like Linford Christie out of the blocks for the first 21 strokes then give 100%, fully rotating and push for the line. Sounds easy enough I thought.
We got in the boat pushed off and slowly Paddled down the River to the start line. At this point the adrenalin really started. Jim our Helmsman was putting us through our paces on the way to the start and cracking a few jokes on the way this was in between his Darf Vader heavy breathing impressions over the tanoy. So there we were at the start of the 200m. Hurricanes lined up in the middle between “Typhoon Dragons” and “ExCalibre Blades”. This was probably the most nerving part at all especially being the race virgin. Here I was First race ever in a Dragon boat lined up ready to go then the starter called boats 1 & 2 to back paddle then boat 3 we went on like this for several minutes before the starter shouted “CREWS COME FORWARD” and “GO”. We went off like the clappers getting a great start we then got in to our stride and the next thing I remember is Jim saying “Easy” we had won our heat by about a second and I was in the Winning boat in my first ever Dragon boat race what a start !.
We then faced Amathus and ExCalibre in the semi final of the 200m this was a close race for 2nd and 3rd between us and ExCalibre. Amathus started like a bullet out of a gun and almost had a boat length lead after our first 21 strokes. We did however eventually come 3rd in our Semi final. But due to Raging getting a 5 second lane violation penalty Hurricanes had made it to the minor Final. We didn’t get a great start in the Final which in turn put us in 3rd place for the race and 6th overall in the 200m event. But out of 22 of the top Teams in the country it was a great overall achievement.
After a short break the afternoon consisted of the 450m events which suited the Hurricanes better.
We paddled up to the start line which was obviously somewhat further away for this event. We then Lined up again the nerves where twitching but I also felt confident that the Crew who was now in to there 4th race together on the day and was bonding well. The started called us up and after the usual back and forward paddling we heard the usual and distinct sound “CREWS COME FORWARD” then “GO” we got a great start and was moving well the momentum in the boat was great. Jim did call us up for a quick 10 in the middle more to break the pace than we actually needed it. We crossed the line in first place in a time of 1m 42sec I felt a great sense of achievement winning my first 450m heat.
We then lined up shortly afterwards for our 450m Semi Final again we were up against Amathus so we knew the start was critical. When the starter shouted “GO”! we got off to a flying start Amathus were ahead but then when we got in to our rhythm we start to pull them back in however we didn’t quite make it and finished an excellent 2nd in a fantastic time of 1m 39 sec. This result put us in to the Minor Final.
The Minor Final was the toughest race of the day with out doubt all boats were neck and neck right through the race Hurricanes got off to a great start and we were soon in to our full stroke Jim was shouting “UP 20” and everybody in the boat was giving 110% we pushed and pushed non stop until the line we were piped in to second place by a mere ½ second .I can honestly say that everybody in that boat was absolutely exhausted when we crossed the finish line.
Overall we come 5th in the 450m and 5th in the overall event which is a great great result.
We finally left the Venue at 5.45pm for our journey home. For me it was a fantastic day and I would like to thank everybody in the Hurricanes Team for there help and support. I am now looking forward to the Great River Race in September which I am sure will be as rewarding as the day at Worcester.
Race report by Paul Lonsdale (Virgin Dragon Boat racer).