Wednesday, 31 May 2023
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Royal Albert Docks

RoyalDocksAs a newbie to the team our dear new manager Sue asked me , obviously oblivious to the fact I’m a purely numbers woman !, to write a few words about out first league race this Saturday 17th April 2010 at Royal Albert Docks ……so here goes !

The day started with a meet at the ‘Toby Carvery’ of J5 M4 for the newbie’s (myself and ‘the teachers’ ) with our able guides .. the Bliss family. After admiring Amy’s shiny new Peugeot 307 ! we set off in convoy to The Royal Albert Docks (not to be confused via sat nav with plain old ‘Albert Docks’ ….which appears to be in Liverpool !!). Miraculously we managed to travel with 3 cars in convoy through the centre of London with only one moment when the Bliss ‘lead vehicle’ left us behind at set of lights (mind you … I still await the outcome of some narrow amber to red decisions on the traffic lights ….as I was the third vehicle in the convoy !) and we arrived in time , before 9 !, at our destination.

I understand that some of the others had more eventful journeys ; our outrageous ladies GB paddler ‘Playful Pam’ giving Lucky Les (now ex manager : )) an adrenalin rush .. or maybe hot flush ! when she flashed her sports bra enroute (more of this to come later !) and Sue (our new manager) found herself driving towards the ‘out of bounds’ London City Airport (no police notice received as yet ! I understand)

The Royal Albert Docks venue is really impressive, wide canal and lots of waterside space for the teams and good facilities. The sun was shining and thanks to the ash (no… not our Ash …. The Icelandic volcano ash !) beautifully peaceful and aeroplane free : ).

Race nerves meant a trip to the ladies, with typically with a queue and 2 toilets already out of action !! was needed before making our way to the rest of the team. So the 1st boat was on its way in the water when we found the Hurricanes camp, but we joined the manoeuvres and had a nice awakening in the freezing water (up to our thighs!) as we took the boats along the floating quay before lowering them safely into the water.

Time then for a quick breakfast, changing and introducing my supporter (son, Ben ) to the younger members of the Hurricanes team before the first race ….. but Dearest Dave then came and asked me to step down for the first 200m race! Being all excited and hyped up for my first race its true to say I was somewhat deflated ! but understood that with such a fantastico Hurricanes team ! two folks had to stay on the bank in each race (so we’ll all be able to empathise with each others deflation : ))

Warm up next , lead by Coach Kevin, with varying degrees of success with co-ordination and completing the moves !.. Dearest Dave and Giant Graham finding some moves particularly challenging : )

Then the first race, 200m, was upon us. The boat set off to the start line with some warm up ‘evolutions’. Those of us on the quay side then watched with some concern as the Hurricanes boat continued warm up and was absent from the start line when called … our helm, Jovial Jim!, had obviously decided a practice race was needed ! as we saw the Hurricanes come full speed 150m to get to the start line and thankfully avoid a penalty ! We came in 3rd in the race but with a good time of 49.81 that took the Hurricanes directly through to the semi’s. The team returned happy with the race and my fellow newbie’s obviously elated from their first race !

Next up then was the semi’s …and my first race !! It felt really good to get in the boat : )!!! Hurricanes came in 3rd with a time of 50.98.

Onwards to the Minor 200m final … and our ‘Playful Pam’ decided another flash was in order at the race start to distract her mates in the Thames team : )!! We then launched into a great race ! Really smooth and great time of 48.28, 3rd once again ! (Pam’s flash obviously having a motivating effect on Thames who came in 2nd!)

Very quickly the 500m racing was upon us … we were raring to go with this favoured distance for the Hurricanes …. and what a great start with our first heat. We started well and paddled really smoothly and in great time and with an amazing new 7/7/7 finish came in a triumphant No 1 !!! with a time of 2.06.81 . We were all elated and very happy with our success !

With that performance we went straight through to the semi-final. So we had an hour to eat, have a cuppa (thanks SAFE for the coffer/tea making facilities !) and in the case of the younger generation get out the foot/ rugby balls out.
I had a chance to catch up with 3 old team mates from the British Chamber of Commerce dragon boating team in Singapore ! Two of them are now married to each other and paddle for Worcester. 
Some of our new young Hurricanes helms had time to help out with some helming for, what Amy endearingly called , the ‘scrap teams’ ! .. more commonly known as the scratch teams : ) Well done guys !

Semi final came next. Although still a good effort and time by the Hurricanes we were all a little deflated coming in 3rd after our first win in the heat, and the time was not our best @ 2.09.13.

So to the final race of the day ! 500m minor final … and what a performance, fabulous start, smooth strong paddle, picking up for 20 power and then a truly great fast finish ! We came in 3rd with a time of 2.06.57 just 1 second behind Tao and pleasingly for me over a second faster than my old Singapore friends in the Worcester boat.

All in all a fabulous first event of the season. Thanks so much to everyone for the arrangements , support, great paddling, camaraderie and for welcoming us newbie’s into the race boat. We can’t wait for the next one ! and a quote from Amy felt by us all ‘ I love my new Dragon Boating family’ : )

Coach Kevin and Lucky Les have now confirmed that our efforts were truly great with our slowest times being faster than our fastest at this event last year and in fact the fastest 500m time and 2nd fastest 200m time since 2003 !!!!

Onwards and upwards Hurricanes !!! - Debbie   

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