Nationals 2016 (Part 1/3)

I decided to skip Montreal Challenge and post it at another time so the Nationals post wouldn’t be too long in coming. A lot of things happened this weekend and it was quite an eventful regatta. Things didn’t necessarily go perfectly, but that’s the way life is.

Day 1

^Photo credit: Anne

Day 1:

Day 1 was sprint day! 200 m races for all divisions. It’s a bit sad that they started the weekend with the most fun distance and basically make the event worse and worse by having the distances go longer and longer (200 m, then 500 m, then 2 km, what is this). The gender teams started the day off, followed by the mixed teams, and after an entire day of racing was over, the university teams went and had their own mini regatta, which ended at about 7:30 pm or so. It was a really long day.

NDRC as a club sent a ton of teams to Nationals in several divisions: junior A open, women, and mixed; U24 open, women, and mixed x2; university mixed; and premier open, women, and mixed x2. Iron Dragons on their part sent a U24 mixed, a university  mixed, and a premier open team. It was a busy, busy weekend.

I steered NDRC Women and Open in the morning. The women did okay, though also a little disappointing, as they got third in the final (though they had been seeded second), to OH Premier Women and 22Dragons. These teams are both strong, though, with the Montreal women being a constant dominant force in women’s dragon boating and the OH women really picking it up this season, so there was no shame in being beaten by them. Though it still stung a bit, especially because the 200 m is our strongest distance (for the women, at least).

For Open…something unexpected happened. Iron Dragons Open did quite well. In fact, they did surprisingly well. Not that I don’t have faith in the team I coach, but I wasn’t sure how they would do. I expected them to challenge for the podium, but didn’t know exactly how they’d match up compared with the rest of the open teams across Canada. Well, no fear! Apparently they matched up very well. So well, in fact, that they came in second to the Hounds, with NDRC Open coming in third. I can’t say I expected that. White Mark broke his paddle at about the second stroke into the start of the race, which was extremely unfortunate, and probably affected a few people around him. There’s this really excellent picture of him taken by DSP where he’s sitting quietly in his seat trying not to bother people around him and looking all sad. This incident very likely affected the race somewhat and we don’t know what would have happened had his paddle not broke. On the other hand, there’s no denying that ID Open raced very well and earned their second place finish! I think they surprised everybody there.

Both the open and women’s teams had lost out of lane 4 and due to a crosswind, it was speculated that the inner lanes (1-3) would be more sheltered, with lane 4 seeming to be bad luck. Thus, for NDRC mixed in the afternoon 200 m races, we tried going for an inside lane, which would be obtained by getting 2nd in our semi final. I’d like to put in a disclaimer here that I’m not a big fan of changing race strategies to play for lanes, but we follow the coach’s orders. In the end, we actually didn’t quite manage it, and still got first in our semi, getting lane 4 again for the final. Oh, well. We came in second once again to Warriors. Oof, that one hurt. This weekend was going to be tough.

Iron Dragons, at least, were faring better. New College threw their heat to get a certain lane (as they did for every single heat of the regatta), which irked me a little (I gave Ben a disapproving look). Fortunately, Iron Dragons still came in first in the U24 200 m final, which was nice, because the 200 m is historically their weakest distance while being New College’s strongest distance. Being the first mixed race between the two teams of the competition, it set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Following the regular races came the university event. Dragon Boat Canada implemented a new system this year where the university races formed their own separate event from the rest of the regatta. I believe the reasoning for this change is that it is a requirement of CIS-SIC and complying would improve the sport’s chances of getting officially recognized, which would in turn increase the eligibility for university teams to apply to their respective schools for funding. While that is all well and good, it’s still a bit abstract and not really a concrete, tangible benefit; the actual result was that after a full day of racing these kids had to go and cram a second full day’s worth of racing into 3-4 hours. Poor kids were tired and no wonder with so many races; the guys had a total of 10 races that day.

The kids did pretty okay. First in the 500 m. First in the 200 m. Second in the 2 km. The 200 m final was probably their best race of the weekend and the only one I was really happy with. The others were won by much closer margins and could’ve been improved. The 2 km was a special kind of race, as that distance often is. Boats 2-5 passed boat 1, and boast 3-5 passed boat 2. In a strange turn of events, however, ÉTS ended up impeding New College at some point, slowing them down a little (though ÉTS did not get a penalty and New College did not get a bonus), and somehow Iron Dragons got a 2 s penalty for I’m not even all that sure what. Without the penalty, Iron Dragons would have come in first in the 2 km, but with the penalty, unexpectedly, Waterloo came in first by 1 s. It’s possible that after passing ÉTS and York, the clean water helped them with smooth sailing but undoubtedly they raced well. Iron Dragons and New College chugged through the slosh of boats and wash to come in second and third, respectively. This result bumped New College down to third place overall in the university division, with Waterloo jumping to second (Iron Dragons remained in first, luckily).

As a side note, apparently the volunteers that work as dock hands gave me a nickname, “The General.” I had never met them before, and as far as I know, they didn’t know me, so it was a bit out of the blue, but also kinda cool.

We basically spent about 13 hours at the race course on Friday. Was crazy tiring and I’m pretty sure I got sunburnt too. Hard start to the weekend!

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3 thoughts on “Nationals 2016 (Part 1/3)

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