Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dragonboat Races (Long Post)

So this will be a long post and may go off in different directions at times but it will have everything I want to say in it along with a lot of good pictures (some from my camera, some from teammates, and some from a co-worker that is a photographer on the side [I bet you will be able to tell those]).

My morning started at 4:30 AM, waking up to get my two teammates that crashed in my living room up and make sure we were ready for a third teammate to pick us up at 5 and drive us over to fed hill. We got to the captain's house in fed hill around 5:30 and started packing up the cars with stuff to decorate our tent. Once everyone got there (around 6) we all drove over to Rash Field and started unloading all our stuff. Let the set-up begin:

Once everyone got there and we checked in, we sat around, ate breakfast and waited until 8:15ish for our seeding race. This was against Baltimore City Police and two other organizations. We were in the first lane that went along the end of all the boat slips on our right. We were winning the whole race until the end when we started veering to the right and headed toward the last slip and right for the corner of a large yacht (the one with Route 66 on it ... the owner moved it forward about 10 feet after our close encounter). After coming within about a foot of the boat and our right side paddlers stopping till we passed it, we crossed the finish line (white buoy) a little under 2 second behind the cops. We were seeded 8th out of 21 teams.

I don't really remember how long until our next race, but we went up against Verizon (seeded 8th) and the Mayors office (seeded 17th) in our first "real" race. This one went much better for us ... although we still lost, we posted the 3rd best time during that round. The mayor's office lost control and started going out into the harbor (hence the 3+ minute time). Since time didn't matter anymore, we moved over into the losers bracket.

Our next race was against a couple schools and we won easily. The next team was over 10 seconds behind us. Our time slipped a little to 1:50.6 but we were still happy with our performance.

We had a long break before our next race and relaxed for a while and did our chant to the Gilligan's island theme (every team had to do a chant and most were a couple minutes long, I think ours lasted about 40 seconds). Our team name/mascot was the falcons so don't ask for an explanation regarding the beaks.

Our next race was the most controversial of the day. We got our rematch against the BCPD and also had Suntrust Bank and another organization in the race. We were pretty pumped and knew we could win. The race starts and we are winning be maybe a third to a quarter boat length to Suntrust with BCPD in third. What we didn't know is a water taxi crossed through the lanes after we had already start and since we were in front we got completely turned by the taxi's wake. We start heading in the direction of the Suntrust (on our left, my side) boat and collide we are rubbing against the boat and I am yelling, "keep paddling!" while i wedge my ore between the boats to push off. Once there is room, both teams start paddling and it sounds live an ancient war with swords clashing. We end up getting back into our lane and now the BCPD team was heading toward us (we later found out they were avoiding the boat in the first lane that was also affected by the water taxi's wake). We come to a dead stop and let them pass then start right back up not letting this deter out desire to win. We catch up to them and start gaining but only manage to get to their halfway point. Suntrust ended up winning the race but the organizers reviewed it and (after 20 minutes of waiting and wanting to hunt down the water taxi) determined that the water taxi essentially ruined the race. They allowed us all to advance (BCPD declined though) as if we had won. I wish I had more pictures of this race, but I was in the boat and my picture taker had left. Notice the angle of the boat on the far left in the picture.

While loading into the boats for the next race we got some dirty looks from Suntrust because they felt we didn't deserve to advance even though (with the exception of the water taxi race) we had consistently better times than them. This was the semi-finals and the winner would move on to the finals. So we went out and did our best ... leading for most of the race (with Suntrust right with us) then we started to the left a little bit than back to the right to compensate ... at the end of the race we came in at a slight angle and had no idea if we won. They announced that they needed to review the video because it was too close to even make an unofficial call. We were still happy about how we did regardless of the outcome.

We all got off the boat and asking everyone in the crowd and anyone volunteering for the event who they thought won and no one could tell us. When they announced it, we were winners by 0.4 seconds. We made the finals ... we celebrated:

While we were getting ready for the finals, we got some of the dirtiest looks from people on the Suntrust team, except one guy who came over and congratulated us and shook our hands and all the stuff that this day was about. The race came and went and we got 4th place running our worst time of the day (with the exception of the taxi race). Maybe fatigue had finally set in after being in the 90+ degree heat for 10 hours and not having a break between our semi-final and the final race. It doesn't matter, we were happy we could help a charity and have a day of fun at the same time. Some more pictures of the day:

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