Hold it? Is this one of those lame sequels to an amazing first part story.
No. It isn’t!
We begin where we left off…
After the fantastic Charity Cup win at the London Lions Association Charity Cup, the CCC Turtles were hungry for more. The Captains planned our next undertaking… win a cup at the more serious British Dragon Boat Association (BDA) league event at London Regatta Centre. We would be battling with other teams in the “premier league” of racing.
As we were, we had absolutely no chance of competing with any of them. We sought help…
The Captains found a London based, dragon boat club willing to coach us. They are the “Typhoons”, who on their 10th year anniversary since founding, would also be hosting the event.
Perfect! They also regularly compete and have had past successes in the competition.
We looked forward to the first day of training with them.
“My shoulders are killing me! I don’t think I can do another session” was the majority of the feedback from an intensive first Thursday training with our first coach, Ash. One of the friendliest coaches once off the boat but frequently losing his voice on the boat!
After a month of on-off training, with turtles practicing on the same boat as Typhoon members, we managed to agree a “Tuesday Turtles Training” day where all our members would aim to be there and train in our own boat. Our regular Helmsman would be the Terrible Too… aka Terrific Alan (To).
We were definitely stronger, fitter and improving as individuals but could we paddle as a team?
Some practice race-offs with the Typhoon team in the 200m race was encouraging as we managed to beat them! Hurrah (ignoring the finer details such as a head start and them rowing with less crew than us).
But our 500m.. (the shoulders are killing me training race) was abysmal. We were more than five boat lengths away from them and we were splashing enough water to alert the nearby coastguard to a standby status.
Alan summed it up by saying “You have improved a lot but when it comes to racing, your training went out of the window, you lacked composure.”
Our commitment was still strong but inside, our morale was low.
A week before racing…. it was a delight to see some returning members, back from holidays or work commitments. It was also refreshing to see some fresh last-minute additions to the CCC Turtle club.
The sun beamed down on the morning of the BDA London race day.
We pitched our tent between two awesome sounding teams, Windy-Pandas (a.k.a the Windys) and one of our rivals in our category and Thames Taniwas (Don’t ask me what that means).
Could we match them?
Our eye-catching cotton green T-shirt could not match the quality waterproof, figure hugging designs of some other competitors.. but we were not here for a fashion parade.
Our general paddles could not match some of the expensive, carbon fibre, lightweight paddles owned by some of the other competitors.. but we were not here to show our wares.
Our furniture of one large beach towel could not match the extremely eye-catching inflatable sofa of the Windys or the numerous chairs and towels of others., but we were not here to rest.
We were here to compete in our first major championships and represent the Chinese Community Centre (CCC).
The first “set of races” were the 200m length races. Alongside us were our tent-neighbours Thames, Raging Dragons and Fiery Dragons. We managed our fastest time since the Charity Final of 57secs but compared with the professionals, this was only third place.
Our second race was a slower 59s and then a final 1.02 which achieved a good second position in the tail-end of racing. Our overall position was 18th out of 22 which at least wasn’t last place! Time for a break now and our Catering Turtle, Diana, made some amazing ‘looking’ Hello Kitty, flowers, ninja turtles and of course pizza cakes as part of the charity sell.
The next set of races were the dreaded 500m which was gruelling to say the least. We battled to equal our best training time of 2.42 but still came last in our heat.
After every race, our mathematical Genius Turtle, Jey Han crunched, digested and spat out all the connotations of race scenarios in our team talks.
His now well-versed opening statement was “Guys, the next race is really important… ” caused a lot of chuckles (but we loved it)
Once again, we only qualified to the tail end of races and performed another 2.42 in the semi’s of the Plate race which was not enough to qualify for the main cups.
After that race, we were feeling the effects of fatigue but before we were able to rest, we were told by race officials to immedately return to the boat for the Minor finals.
This was it, winner would get a Plate. We lined up against Worcester Dragon Flies, LRC Dragons and Typhoon’s Hurricane Tigers.
We stormed into a fantastic start and after a steady 250m, we were neck and neck with leaders, Dragons and Flies. But we could not keep up the momentum and our timing faltered towards the last 100m. We eventually finished third but had achieved our fastest time yet of 2.39 and ahead of the Tigers.
All in all, a great day of racing and we managed to make it to the shore, dry after a tricky double boat hop to the pontoon. A great deal of satisfaction from earning good race times and a celebration meal in Harvestor to cap it all off.
Was that it ?
Oh… did I forget something?
Another cup for obtaining third place in the Scratch crews and a new group war cry…. “Go Turtle Power!”
Special thanks to all the Typhoon crew especially Kim, Ash, Alan and their ‘Hire-a-Hero Helmsman’, Andrew.
From the immortal words of the character Mork by the late Robin Williams, “Signing off till next time, Sir. Nanu Nanu!”
Written By Editor Turtle and a Photo-Bomb Turtle?