Almost one year has passed since I wrote the last article about our intrepid adventures in the Lions 2015 campaign. Who can forget the disappointment of being “runners up” – a position that rewards NO medals, NO pats on the backs and NO recollections from people. I also remember writing something about being ‘Stronger’ in 2016. Maybe we could be Champions again?
Maybe I will eat my words …. let’s recall the events from 26th Jun 2016.
My heart was thumping with anticipation, its gonna be close, we’re gonna make it, I can see the finish line .. 51.9! – oh sorry, that was a nightmare I had 🙂
“Wake up! we’re late, Mai said 8.30!”
“Leave me alone! it’s a Sunday!”
“Get up! It’s Lions”
I ran quicker than Bolt, to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, put some clothes on, did my hair and drank a protein drink (not necessarily in that order).
“Got the Paddles” – check
“Got the Waterproofs” – check
“Got the Charity Raffle tix” – check
“Got the Oyster card” – check
“Got the tight-fitting, green Turtle Power T-shirt with the Chinese Gift Shop logo” – check
“Now we’re ready!”
Got to the Royal Albert as punctual as usual – 9.00am.
And like every year, the initial tasks were to put to the test – the turtle’s DIY skills
With the admin sorted, there was a really nice surprise for our soon to-be-married couple (Mai and Johnny) – a pair of his and hers Paddles from Chris (congrats). His being a blue Trivum and her’s being a cyan-wavy Hornet (opposites attract!)
INTERMISSION before race 1: In the years since writing about the turtles, I’ve been astonished how much “Martial Arts” skills members possess and it was on show in 2016:
Lets get down to the biz…
Race 1 – our Captain, Mark wanted the fastest time in this one. Probably a good strategy as we were all fresh and the wind seem to favour us at this time. A blistering start and a good pace set by the Pacers (Mark and Ollie) saw us leave the other 3 boats behind. By 50m, it was all about the clock. A misunderstanding of ‘Go for the line’ and ‘Line’ (for stop), saw some people relax and drop the power before finishing but we still managed a super quick time of 52.6s. To put it into context of how quick this was.. this was the 6th fastest time out of 44 teams.
INTERMISSION before race 2: Turtles demonstrate more Martial Art moves
Race 2 – instructions from this one was to continue to paddle whether you heard ‘Go for the Line’ or something else. We started off well once again and by 50m, it was us and the clock once again… but this boat felt heavier and maybe it was timing or the pace or possibly windy conditions (there was head wind), we finished on 56.26. Funny thing is.. we never stopped even when the Helm turned red-faced screaming ‘Line’ repeatedly this time! haha
INTERMISSION before race 3: Turtle’s Deadly Moves
Race 3 – This race was a preview of what to expect if we were to make the finals because we were up against our charity second-placed crew – the brilliant Purple Warriors. Their fastest time was also around 56s… We started well but by half way, we were playing catch-up. We passed the line, a disappointed third place with a time of 1.01 with Purple Warriors and an open team taking 1st and 2nd respectively. What went wrong? Kim (Typhoon and our coach), our helm on this race commented on a good start but lacked power after a third of the race. Was this going to be another year without the trophy. Could the newly formed Purple Warriors take the title in their inaugural year.
INTERMISSION: Final Demonstration of Kung Fu!
Time to regroup and for the Captains to review all the races and come up with a finals-crew line-up. It was a extremely hard and stressful decision. To be honest, it wouldn’t have mattered who paddled, every Turtle would have performed with heart and given 110%. The line-up from race 1 was decided to partake in the final race. Is this risky gamble?, there were strong paddlers from all races. But one thing Turtles possess when faced with the biggest challenge is guts.
All, that mattered now was to win. If we won this race, we would win two trophies.
The sun beamed down strongly on the water. The boats left the safety of the pontoon and headed towards the start-line. It felt like it took forever to align the boats on the start-line and I felt my mouth drying and sweat flowing down my brow due to the strong sun. The crowds silenced and all we could hear was the occasional sound of aircraft lifting off from the City Airport runway.
“Attention! Go!” .. no time to think, the countless start-drills from training kicks in. “Up!” after the first 10 strokes but alongside us were no longer the beginners and fun-goers boats, it was Purple Warriors. “Up” after the next 10 strokes and another boat seem to come from nowhere.. it was our forgotten rivals, CATH. “Reach on 3-2-1”.. we pulled slightly ahead.. probably by a dragon’s head. Our start was good but could we maintain the power and TIMING of the Reach.
Over half way now and CATH is sticking by our side.. they were not going to lose this without a fight!
Before no time, our Captain shouts “Drive for the Line!” – our turtle power explodes and this mighty crew drags the boat over the line. The sweet smell of success is ours once again! This “Turtle Team of 23” has made history and takes away two trophies.
It was a huge relief for all of us. Our expectations were to be the top charity team (nothing short of that if honest) and we performed on the day. Our final time of 55.3 was quicker than the winner from the Open race but who’s counting ! A big congratulations to real heroes, ‘Purple Warriors’ who scared the daylights out of us in race 3 and consistently performed under 1 minute in their first ever Lions. They won our respect and will be the team to beat next year. A big thanks to the constant threat of CATH and the brilliantly named Lulutrip and Pestalozzi. A big thanks go to our trainers, Typhoon aswell.
As usual, we have to include our famous selfie shot and dealing with the paparazzi
The secret of our success boils down to these simple things:
Friendship, Smiles and Togetherness. Enjoy our Trophies!
Arrivedeci from an extremley happy Turtle!