OC Testing and Flatwater Paddling

Iron Dragons had OC testing two weekends ago in Pickering. It was a good mid-season test to see how people were progressing throughout the summer. I’ve helped out every year at OC testing, though I wasn’t able to this year at the beginning of the season because it took place while all the coaches were at the NDRC spring camp.

Every past season I was one of the steers, since we test in OC-2’s. But not this year! Steering is the worst. You’re essentially out all day in the sun, getting hot and flustered, and getting tired because you’re paddling all day and people testing don’t want to get too worn out so they either take it easy paddling to the start line or don’t paddle at all and you’re just stuck paddling that heavy boat alone and hating life. That was a run-on sentence.

So as I was saying, this year I refused to steer. I wanted to watch and be lazy. Gina and Lily had the honours of steering (though I steered their tests). Lucky and Julian took care of the finish and start lines respectively for the women’s testing, and Sangah and Davidson manned those stations for the men’s testing. Everything went pretty much as smoothly as could be hoped. Originally there were some qualms about potential conflicts with the OC regatta organized by Jim Farintosh that was taking place at the same time and place. André insisted that we would have a lot of trouble and Danny also expressed concern about it. In the end, though, the OC competitors took to the lake while we stayed in the marina, so there was actually no conflict whatsoever, which worked out quite nicely.

Most people showed up on time to test, except Paz, who missed his train and decided not to come at all, and George, who took a wrong turn, ending up on the wrong side of the marina, and having to get picked up by Victor who therefore was also late. Minor other blips included Alex Hong leaving before he tested on his other side, Sangah pressing “back” instead of “lap” on Lucky’s phone and missing a few seconds for Daniyar’s test (we got his time from Allan’s video, so it worked out), and the starting air horn not working (so the starter just ended up yelling instead). It was also quite windy and wavy that day. Fortunately it wasn’t a head or a tailwind, but a constant crosswind pretty much all day. It was okay for right side testers, but left sides had a bit of a hard time of it, especially the steers, having to hardcore lean out onto the ama for fear of huliing. In fact, Keshini and Lily did actually huli. When I saw them in the water I got worried but then I realized they had flipped right after Keshini had finished her test, so I stopped caring. Luckily, she was also one of the last girls to test, so we didn’t even fall behind schedule by much.

Lucky told me that the managers were all glad I was there. I thought that was a bit funny, because I didn’t actually do anything. I pretty much just hung around and watched around the finish line, under the pretense of helping Sangah but really just watching and making other people do things like telling Jacky to be the dock hand and making Greg sound the finish air horn. I even left at one point to go catch Pokémon and hatch my eggs, using Alex Hong as a hotspot (life without data is sad). I caught a Poliwag and a Goldeen! My theory is that Iron Dragons are basically like toddlers. When a parent (or coach) is present, even not doing anything, they’re all fine and cheerful and can go about their lives happily. However, as soon as that parent leaves the room, they turn into crying babies. I guess my role is more moral support than anything else.

This past weekend, we had another Iron Dragons activity: flatwater paddling! Lucky had organized an excursion with the Balmy Beach Canoe Club for us to try out canoeing and kayaking. It was pretty cool! Despite the rain and dreary weather, it was quite fun to try out different forms of paddling.

And now I have a confession to make. I don’t actually know why it’s called “flatwater” paddling. Is there such a thing as roughwater paddling? Do canoers and kayakers only paddle on calm water? I could look it up. But I could also not. And I’m lazy.

So another confession: I really don’t like going into the water. I was not in the mood to flip, especially since it was a cold wet day. So I picked the most stable kayak and steered clear of the canoes. We tried some dock paddling with the canoe paddles and I definitely did not feel stable even there. The docks were also kind of gross, covered in goose poop. One poor guy fell off the docks while trying it out. Canoe paddles are long! And paddling canoe-style is hard. I don’t know how Gavin does it. I got tired after about three strokes on the dock (my excuse is that this excursion was right after we had had a two hour NDRC practice). We then all tumbled into boats to try out actual paddling, some people going with kayaks and some going for the canoes. All the canoeists pretty much flipped right away, which became a constant theme for the rest of the day. The kayakers fared somewhat better, though most people did also flip at some point or another (I was the only one that didn’t end up flipping all day). Lucky became quite good at canoeing and was even able to get back on after flipping several times and make his way out. Damian was pretty decent at kayaking and was the first to make any real distance. I was pretty scared at first and refused to leave the docks until Jeff pushed me away and forced me out, after which I was okay and was able to get the hang of it. I ended up quite liking kayaking and might want to try it out again at a later point.

After our fun, a few of us (Chris, Lucky, Lily, and I) headed back downtown to help Sangah move (she and Jeff are practically neighbours now!). She really didn’t need that much help, though, since she had Edmond with her (who drove the moving truck) and very little furniture. Lily was useless, leaving at the beginning to buy a smoothie from McDonald’s, so with about five people, we took maybe half an hour to move everything, if even that. Afterward, we just chilled at Sangah’s for a while, having fun bullying Lily. We managed to lock her in the bedroom by moving the sliding door off its hinges and later opened the door only to throw crumpled newspaper balls at her. Overall, a pretty fun day!

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