What a gorgeous day to start the 2016 Canadian National Club Crew Championships at the Welland International Flatwater Centre!
The water was as clear as the sky, no rain and it was not stiflingly hot…we all remember and reflected on the chilly temperature and torrential downpours of last year! This day couldn’t have been more perfect.
Today almost felt like a bit of a holiday because our first race wasn’t scheduled until 1:50pm. Many of us were able to sleep in, lounge around in the morning, have a good solid breakfast not worry about rushing to get to race site.
We arrived at race site for 10:30am and got to watch some great racing. Our tents are parked on the start line and we quickly became the line of red shirts on the shore line as we watched our friends in the Canadian Senior Dragon Boat Club (CSDC) alliance teams get their division heat races in.
There is quite a bit of waiting around due to the number of teams entered in the event, and as usual, in the Rowbust tent there was lots of laughter and singing (I’m sure Bruno Mars would have been impressed with the rendition of Uptown Funk coming from our tent) while we waited for our race to be called.
Soon race # 41 was called to marshalling. We grabbed our gear and made the trek. An air of excitement surrounding us as we prepared to meet a team we’ve never competed with before.
All the usual pleasantries and “nice to meet you’s” were exchanged as we made our way through the marshalling tents to the boats. But once we are loaded in the boats and push off the dock, the niceties are put on hold.
On the start line there is quiet. Each of us going over the race plan in our minds. The announcer calls all boats to the starting blocks and Shirley uses the back paddlers to ease us in to position while the strokes move us left and right for perfect placement.
All boats are in place, the announcer calls us to “Attention!” Laura and Shirley give the “Ready Ready “ call and our paddles snap in to race ready position.
Our start was strong and we burst off the start line. Shirley and Laura calling the “ups” as we changed gears up to our 200m race pace. We poured on the power and moved out in front of the other boats. Every paddle hitting every stroke as our power builds and we cross the finish line first! Looking to the left from our position in lane 1 we see that we secured the first win. But this was just the heat race, we’ll have to do the exact same to pull it out in the final scheduled for 3:25pm.
After a snack and a rest we are called down to marshalling again for our 200m final, race #53. Here we got to visit with friends that we first met in Italy back in 2014. The Vermont Dragonheart BCS team has come to play. Not only did Vermont bring their BCS crew they brought their entire club of 97 paddlers to compete across a range of divisions. Right now you’re thinking “why is a US team competing at the Canadian National Championships?” The short answer – for fun! They are ineligible to win in the event but they can race and we welcome their competition. We’ve met them in competition in a number of events at home (ours and theirs) and away, they are a great group of people and we enjoy the comradery.
For our final 200m race we are positioned in lane 2. Again we come up to the starting block together and again we blast off the line and power it all the way down the course on Shirley and Laura’s commands. Just to be safe Laura calls us up and up as we pull our boat across the finish line, she won’t have us stop too soon and makes sure that we are all across the line before she calls “let it run” and we see that we took top spot again.
The 200m race day is done, but we’ve not secured our place on the podium just yet. We still have a great deal of work to do. There is nothing to take for granted. Just because we’ve done it before does mean it can’t be taken away. There’s not a single Rowbuster who doesn’t want to have that gold medal draped around her neck on Sunday so tonight, we eat well and we rest.
And eat well we did!! A beautiful family style dinner of gourmet salads and pizza were laid out for us at the Red Stone Winery not too far from our hotel. It was the perfect end to a good day of racing. As always, lots of laughs and stories told, including those of the different (and extended) routes that were taken to get to the hotel yesterday…really ladies? 4 hours?!?
After a beautiful al fresco dinner at Red Stone we retreated to our hotel to crowd around many tv’s to take in the women’s and men’s 400m relay races at the Olympics in Rio before retiring for the night.
For Rowbust, Saturday is a free day and we are not scheduled to race. Sunday we will race two 500m races and our favourite the 2000m to round out our weekend.
Have a great weekend everyone! Stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter for our development through the day on Sunday.