THE TURTLES RETURN
“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” – Wilma Rudolph
Almost a year to the day of our first trophy, we do it all over again! The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival returns. This year marked its 20th anniversary and was the most successfully participated event in its history
with 44 teams racing. In the charity category, there were 10 teams competing. Amongst them, last year’s runner-up to us and great rivals C.A.T.H. This year, we had a new captain, Mark and returning joint captain, Mai.
Also, this year we had several new faces, old faces and even older faces from previous Turtles racing. We also had our T-shirt sponsors and ever hard-working CCC Management member, Alan who visited our training session and provided support on race day. This year in particular, the TTT (Turtles Tuesday Training) was attended consistently with high numbers which was a fantastic acheivement. Our coaches, Typhoon were especially impressed with the numbers and commented on the great commitment.
But like previous years, training was hard and long, coming straight after work was testing for anybody so it was not a surprise we had to endure some problems with timing, power and technique. We also had a lot more TTT cancellations due to bad weather which hindered our progress. But just like last year, there were vast improvements from everybody and similarly, Turtles posted fastest trial race times in the final training sessions before the competition.
We also had some new fashion… out went the old standard printed T-shirts.. in came the new sleeker, slim-fitting standard printed T-shirts! No.. really a much better looking one (thanks Jeyhan)
We asked our most respected Turtle member to model our new top…
Ummm.. maybe it was the next picture
Ummm.. lets find our next turtle member to model our top PLEASE!
Finally…. our well respected Turtle Ime.. showing the front and back of the top.
Come race day! The weather was very cloudy and a bit blustery and our full team assembled promptly together by 9.15! (you know who you are!). Unfortunately our newbie Turtle, Steve had an injured hamstring so was unable to participate but he still turned up to offer moral support which was truely admirable.
Mark and Mai had already spent hours and sleepless nights deciding on an optimum line-up. Not an easy task when you have over 26 people with only 16 in a boat per race… and pressure to win. In all honesty, I believe nobody minded what the line-up would be and was happy just to be part of the team. There were going to be three line-ups.
After evaluating weather conditions, the captains decided Line-up 3 team to begin the first race. It was still quite blustery but the team managed to pull-in a respectable 1min 3 sec opening race time. In this first heat, only C.A.T.H managed a faster time.
The second race, the conditions worsened with rain and windy conditions but Line-up 1 team managed an improved time of 1min 2sec putting us in 2nd position. Meanwhile one other team made gains and were closing in on our times. They were the event organiser’s team, LCLC who improved dramatically with a second round time of around 56 sec.
The final round of heats came and conditions improved. Our final line-up 2 continued the trend of improved times and produced our fastest time of the heats of 1min 1 sec. Great work Turtles! This gave us a bit more cushion
of achieving the first four spots to qualifyfor the final.
After three heats, the final leaderboard looked like:
Ok Ime, that’s enough posing now! The new Top looks great !
Once again, the impressive LCLC produced a stunning time of 54s. Aside from CATH, this team were even more of a threat to us from retaining the trophy.
Thankfully, after some nervous waiting time for the remaining boats to complete their final heat, we had made our second charity final in two consecutive years. A fantastic acheivement for us and a great reward from all the sweat, toil and late nights. In addition, we had a chance to win the crown again.
After much deliberation from the Captains.. a final line-up was decided.
The sun was beaming down the Regatta waters with only a slight breeze. The Charity final was the first cup to be decided. There were huge crowds, lined up from the Start line to the Finish. We had great cheers of support from our coaches, family, friends, Chinese Community Centre and our fellow Turtle crew which made us want this even more.
We didn’t have the best lane or the best boat but we were focused… and here we go
LCLC had a fantastic start and were already ahead after six strokes. They were definitely more experienced and started with a much quicker stroke rate. After 50m, our Helm steered very close to ther boat and we could see they were three-quarters of a boat ahead.
Aound the half way mark and our Helm steered abruptly away from them and they were still only three-quarters of a boat ahead. At this juncture, it was between us and LCLC. We were fast approaching the finish line and Mark called for a twist but we made no gains on them.
Our reign was over, LCLC crossed the line comfortably in around 55s. Our best time of the day of approx 58s could only manage a runners-up place. We gave it our all!
Overwhelmed by disappointment and injury snags, a Turtle wept at the defeat but these same tears were shed because of the immense pride in the team.
Dedication, Commitment, Solidarity and Passion… all qualities that make up this powerful team. Who needs a cup to show for it. We saw it in ALL the performances and throughout the day from ALL the crew.. those in and out of the boats (thanks again Steve and to Lan for the huge KFC bargain bucket which was the envy of many teams).
Losing only makes us want it more next time. So congratulations to LCLC but beware we will come back stronger next year!
Well… that was my perspective from the second Lions competition.
Oh and I almost forgot.. our signing out of the infamous Selfie shot!
Note: This shot might’ve been taken after table 2 had already finished their meals! (wink wink)
BRING ON 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Turtle and OUT!