FFB

Dragon Boat Club Inc

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Previous Events and Races

Penrith (SIRC) 28/11/2011 (500m)

FFB made its "2011-12 regular season" debut at the Sydney International Regatta Centre (SIRC), a venue for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  Some aims for the day:

  • Give novice paddlers experience some race experience.
  • Let experienced paddlers refresh their knowledge of the eventual State Championships course.
  • Accumulate races towards the entry quota for Chinese New Year's Darling Harbour regatta.

The One Ring, err, Race

Yes sports fans, we only had a single 500m race for the whole day so please indulge this writer some latitude while all manner of things are amplified beyond their usual extent.

Racing Category

FFB only competed in the "Premier Mixed" category, slightly deviating from the normal practice of entering both "Premier Mixed" and "Masters Mixed" categories.  Even so, our "provisional" steerer Kerrin would be able to gain some experience while accumulating some races towards being fully accredited.

Later some female FFB'ers combined with another club to help qualify their "Premier Women's" boat for the Darling Harbour regatta.  Coincidentally, Kerrin would steer for a competing club in that same race!

Opponents

FFB faced the might and power of these crews: Chinese Youth League "Yellow," City Dragons "Red," Sloths "B," City Dragons "Red," and Tsunami "Red."  The Sloths and City Dragons crews were reputedly very strong, though the remaining crews could not be counted out on their day.  As always, a truer assessment would be found on the race course.

Preparation

Due to Coach Kenny being indisposed, it was left to Jenny and Anthony to be managing the team.  While Anthony attended the pre-regatta meeting for team captains, Jenny finalised the crew's seating with Kenny over the phone.  With Kerrin having her first race as an accredited steerer, Anthony drummed.

The team then warmed up for the race with Jenny's usual high-spirited routine, getting everyone into the mood for racing.  This writer's hopes were high for a good performance, building upon the success of the Master's Mixed Final at last season's State Championships.

Let's get racing!

The algae floating in the water would play a part later, though not as much as the wind blowing up the course from finish to the start.  Kerrin did a great job in getting the boat into position, taking into account the wind's strength.  While other boats had their various difficulties getting to the starting line, FFB was in place and quietly sitting pretty.

Once started, FFB kept pace with the frontrunners until the about the half-way mark.  The metres went by as all the crews made their way down the course, into the fierce head wind.

Let's keep racing!

At half way the FFB crew was moving along at a great clip, though some of the other crews were inching ahead.  The strokes' pace seemed a little high, though the boat seemed to be moving smoothly along.  It was time to refocus our energies and technique, since 500m requires energy to be spent more carefully.  After 20 strokes to regain better timing, the race proceeded to the final phase.  The boat was still going smoothly along the water, though now it seemed to be sitting a little lower in the water.

Let's stop racing!

By this time the City Dragons and Sloths crews were busy fighting it out for the race win, while FFB and Tsunami were contending for the 3rd.  With about 100m to go the final effort was signalled, along with a slight increase in stroke rate.  Though the rate seemed a little too fast, the boat was still gliding smoothly in the water.  It was during this time that Tsunami finally drew away to finish 3rd, while FFB finished in 4th by about 1 boat length!  A great result against some crack crews!

After the race had finished Kerrin steered us back to the loading pontoon, again allowing for the wind's strong gusts.  After a quick warm-down and race review, many FFB'ers settled down to await the next race.  The day was bright and the sun warm as the FFB'ers relaxed, in preparation for later exertion; or so they thought.

Race outcome

The crew is to be congratulated on a great performance against some well-credentialled and prepared teams.  It shows how our training is getting us closer to the "pointy end" of the race on our own merits.  The boat's run felt smooth all the way from start to finish, even against the strong headwind.  With the race's 3 place-getters only drawing away towards the end it showed we only lacked that little extra endurance.  Great race!

FFB helps other crews

Those FFB'ers in the "Premier Women's" race kept watchful eyes on the race numbers, before again going out.  That race, with Kerrin steering one boat and some FFB'ers in another, passed uneventfully except for the now-usual elongated starting procedure.

The rest of the time...

While the day was sunny and warm, this was possibly the best aspect of the conditions.  Other factors contributed to this day giving FFB'ers a sub-par racing experience.

Wind, err, Weather

While the sun was bright, shiny and warm, other weather was not as pleasant.  As noted above, there were also quite strong winds blowing from the finish line back to the start.  They were strong enough that Kerrin had to direct the crew in counteracting its blowing the boat towards the starting pontoon.  This triggered other unwanted side-effects:  delayed starts and blue-green algae inhalation.

Delayed starts, leading to other delays

The winds wreaked havoc with some crews' starting procedures, since their steerers did not properly allow for the wind's strength.  Hence the starts were delayed while those boats and crews battled to extricate themselves from undesired positions.

While FFB's own race (no.3) was only slightly delayed the "Premier Women's" race (no.19), was delayed by close to an hour.  To cap it all, the water safety boat's outboard motor somehow came loose during a race and promptly sank to the lake's bottom.  This sinking stopped the races, leading to an emergency meeting between regatta organisers, team managers and steerers. 

During this latest of delays team managers and steerers were called to an emergency meeting, with the regatta organisers explaining the situation while awaiting progress reports regarding the motor's recovery.  While an alternative safety boat was eventually found, the cumulative effects of all delays would have forced the regatta to run very late if all scheduled races were run.

FFB misses out on a final

Instead of allowing the second set of heats to proceed, the regatta organisers decided to cancel them in favour of an expanded set of finals based on the first heats' times.  While there were "A," "B," and "C" finals for the "Premier Mixed" category, FFB's 4th placing meant we did not qualify.  This was very disappointing because some FFB'ers did not have an opportunity to race.

Blue-green algae inhalation

Before the race, this writer saw some algae in the water's surface, which in turn was very close to the top of the boat loading pontoons.  While initially not thinking them serious, by race's end its effect was plain to see; and hear.  During the race a combination of the strong winds, the boat's bow wave and paddle movement made many FFB'ers make unavoidable gulps of algae-laced water.  Following the race many FFB'ers were coughing and had unaccustomed chest wheeziness.  If any FFB'ers had these conditions and have not already mentioned this to Maria Michoux ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), please do so.

The wash-up

The ugly

  • Lake water laced with blue-green algae.
  • Long-delayed starts due to many crews not adequately coping with the challenging conditions.
  • Cancelling of the heats' second round.

The bad

  • Some FFB'ers not paddling for as long as they'd expected.
  • Timing equipment failure.
  • FFB's over-vigorous drumming, especially during the latter part of the race.
  • Someone not "pulling the plug" to drain SIRC's man-made lake system of excess water prior to the regatta.

The good

  • Kerrin's skilful handling of the tough conditions, in her first regatta as a "Provisional" (Level 2) steerer.
  • FFB's continuing improvement in getting to the "pointy end" of race results.
  • Teamwork on the day:  marqee tent assembly and dismantling, smooth boat run during the race and helping other crews.

The sunset beckons

With a parting wave to the Sydney International Regatta Centre, the hardy band of FFB'ers at the regatta packed up their gear and returned home via the long stretch of road that is the M4; the setting sun at their back.

 

Rodds Point

First races of the new season and what a start.

We carried on where we left off at Port Maquarie at the end of last season and added another trophy. Kenny's going to need to buy yet another bigger house at this rate.

In typical FFB fashion no one waited to pick the trophy up preferring the allure of the pub or in my case a hot bath. We competed in 6 races which included a first place and a second place.

Our fastest time was actually in a race where we came second and was all the more creditable because we gave all the other teams a head start before joining in.

So well done everyone - a great start to the new season - we really are the FFB.

For those of you who weren't there you missed a lovely day- very mild for this time of year as you can tell.

 

 

(Editor's note:  Rodd's Point is the traditional "pre-season" regatta, others are for "point scoring" rounds in the DBNSW seasonal competition)

 

Scotland Island 23rd April 2011

Pre-race

A hardy band of FFB'ers made the trek to Rowland Reserve, Bayview, to again challenge the 8km race around Scotland Island. Hopes were high for a good result, following December 2010's 2nd place in the "Premier Mixed" category. Some of the crew were wanting a second helping of that race' "very exciting" maritime conditions, though conditions on the day offered different conundrums.

The weather forecast had mentioned some showers and a temperature increase to about 20C. Instead, the rain continued its drizzling and the air remained chilly. Everyone tried to make the best of the conditions, invoking their own methods of keeping warm. Since we were in the 2nd group of boats we had to apply these methods for a while. Mitch took an interesting approach to keeping warm: paddling a race with another crew! Spirits were also raised by the FFB cheer squad, who enthusiastically made a big racket on the Reserve's beach and then the balcony of the Newport Arms.

While the steerer previewed the revised race course through a motorboat trip with the event organisers, crew seating was finalised in a phone hookup with Head Coach Kenny.

The word for today is ... BUNNIES!

This time Easter Bunny-shaped fruit jellies were on hand to fortify and sustain everyone throughout the race. The FFB cheer squad was also very appreciative of their nourishing power.

Race

Course outline (approx.)

Rowland Reserve/ Bayview Park - Church Point - Scotland Island (Bell Wharf) - Scotland Island (anti-clockwise lap) - Scotland Island (Bell Wharf) - Church Point - Rowland Reserve

Race progress

Our tactics were to get the boat moving in a similar way to the shorter races, before settling into a rhythm and power we could sustain for the whole 8km. After the start we kept parallel to the shore, threading through the moored boats and easily settling into a very smooth and silky rhythm at 75% of maximum. Occasionally the steerer would call for slightly more (85%) effort or to concentrate on a part of the stroke ("clean entry", "vertical paddle shaft"). To keep everyone fresh there were also breaks to rest, eat jellied Easter Bunnies, swap sides or all 3. The water was calm and still, very "unexciting" though the drizzle didn't abate.

In this way we proceeded through the 8km round trip towards the Island, around the Island and thence back to shore; maintaining that smooth, flowing style and rhythmic timing.

Post-race eating and more glass to take away

Post-race eating

As with the December 2010 race, the first orders of business after the debarking from boat were to first get dry and then relocate to the Newport Arms as quickly as possible. Since the FFB cheer squad were already there they gave the rest of the team a very warm welcome, very much appreciated in the cooling sunset and dusk. Pizza vouchers were quickly converted into dinner orders, along with a complimentary schooner of beer or glass of wine. Following the afternoon's efforts in the cold and rain, this FFB'er found his "supreme" pizza very restorative. Like many other race competitors, this FFB'er also enjoyed the warming heater in the bar especially reserved for them.

Takeaway glass

It was later in the evening when the days results, and hence awards were distributed to the successful crews. Hopes were high for an improved performance, certainly during this race the crew seemed more unified and able to work for each other. Times between today's and December 2010's races cannot be directly compared, due to the course reconfiguration. Even so, this FFB'er noticed the time on the water seemed shorter.

So, without further ado, FFB attained .... "3rd outright" of all the crews! Great effort!

Honourable mentions

It was great to see all the hardy FFB'ers at Scotland Island, even if the conditions posed a different kind of conundrum (cold vs. high swell) compared to December 2010. Special thanks must also go those who brought something special to the day:

  • FFB cheer squad - Raising everyone's spirits with their enthusiasm and energy.
  • Mark McKane - Keeping everyone motivated and maintaining concentration.
  • Mitch Drake - 2 races (FFB & another "love boat" crew), on top of playing rugby in the morning!

Epilogue

Should the next Scotland Island race be over the same course, the time to beat will be 49 minutes.

 

Chinese New Year 2011

Race 1

So the first race is in 5 minutes but Kenny has chosen the B team leaving the likes of Pete, Jeff, Maria and Steve behind. Leann and Jeff have set the video up on Darling Harbour bridge ready for the start. All decked out in our new uniforms the team looks splendid. Is this the start of something big. And they are off. Even from 500 meters away I can hear Kenny shouting but Anthony is calm and the team set off well. Not quite as fast as some of the other teams but pretty good. And then it's over!! That was quick even by my standard. How did the team do I hear you ask. Not bad we finished. Asked to comment on the race Pete said "at the end of the day Dragon Boating is the real winner" while Kenny blamed Lou for not turning up.

Race 2

Ok so it's the Masters (old farts) crews turn to show the youngins how it's done. Kenny takes the crew to outside the marshaling area to warm up. Kenny threatens to make the masters do 500 pushups for Jeff taking his keys. The team laughs it off, as it's time to get serious and prepare for the race ahead. Cookie is warming up with some rudiments (mainly parradiddles) in preparation for his drumming. Before we know it, it's time to line up in the marshaling area, then off to the boat whilst being followed by a team with bagpipes, which Maria decides to dance too. We are first off the pontoon (hopefully a sign of things to come). After a quick warmup Anthony battles the wind and drift to line us up at the starting line in lane 4. The race is off to a quick start with us taking off at an average pace but catching up at about half way and finishing 2nd... (must have been a combination of Jeffs lucky keys and cookies drumming)