Four full days of FUN......I don't even know where to begin, there was so much that happened over these days!
Let's start with a brief history of the Pan American Club Crew Championships. This event is only the 2nd Pan American Dragon Boat Championships ever held! It was started to help the developing countries participate in dragon boat festivals. They acknowledge that Canada is very advanced in the dragon boat world but most other countries are just developing their programs and a lot of countries, particularly South America and the Caribbean have limited participants so that is why the small boats are used. That way the smaller countries can still participate in an International Sport competition. The next Pan American Championships will be held in Puerto Rico and in 2019 it will be in Trinidad and Tobago!!! Gail-Lynn.......I see a "road trip" to your other home!!!!
At this event there was a very large contingent from Trinidad, Puerto Rico, USA and of course Canada (many teams came from the West).
We were all a little nervous but excited about trying out a Small boat for the first time! We had a practice at the race site at 5 pm for all of Cheryl's crews....Rowbust BCS, Rowbust Senior B and various CSDC crews.
We all cautiously got into the small boat being very careful to keep our weight out over the gunnel since any shift in weigh could make us tip very easily. Even Shirley just adjusting her feet felt like we were going over!!!
We started out down the race course, Shirley nervous on the back, Laura hanging on at the front and the rest of us just trying to paddle without rocking the boat.
We did some starts, race plans, sectionals and then Shirley wanted to try some 2 km turns! The first turn was a little wide but then after a few practice turns she was hugging those buoy's just like in a Standard boat!
One hour of practice flew by and that was it......the next day racing for the Rowbust BCS crew!
Off to St. Catharine's to check into our hotel and have supper .....and get to bed early!
This was a full day of racing for Rowbust BCS crew. Rowbust Senior B had the day off but came mid-morning to watch some of the races.
We were supposed to be racing 2 Dragon's Abreast Crews, Windsor Wonderbroads, Survivor Thrivers from Cobourg, Barrie Ribbon's of Hope but most of them withdrew from the event and the only crews left were Rowbust and the 2 Dragon Abreast crews!!!
Today we had to race three 500 m races and the 2 k.
Just like at Nationals, we had to use the "Boot" system for the start. The team had to get the head of the dragon into the "Boot" and keep it there until everyone lined up and the gun went off and the "Boot" dropped. The only challenge this day was the high winds although it seems like it is always windy in Welland. Shirley and the crew did great......into the Boot all 3 times, first time and kept it there while the Toronto crews struggled to get it in!!!
Racing in a Small boat is harder than racing in a Standard boat since you only have half your paddlers. As Sarah explained it to us, it is like doing a Power stroke with each and every stroke!!!!
In all three 500 m races, we improved and by the time we raced our 3rd race, we were more than a boat length ahead of Toronto.
Then onto the 2 k races......in a small boat!!! The Blind and partially sighted boats started before us, the 2 Toronto crews started before us and then behind us were all the Senior B mixed crews!!
And we started, we caught up to the 1st Toronto boat by the 1st turn, only Akky's Toronto crew was ahead of us, we rounded the 1st turn and then they all came........all the mixed crews started passing us on either side of us!!! Clacking paddles with our crew (yes, they were that close!), our Rowbust boat was rocking for side to side as these faster boats were passing us! Honestly, I'm not sure how Shirley and Laura stayed on our boat!! The Australia team (and there must have been over 200 of them!) was there training for Worlds this week and all of them were situated by the far turn and all you could hear was very loud cheering coming from the side lines!!
We safely stayed right behind the Toronto boat. Then, the way cleared, we tried to pass Akky (the Toronto stern), to try to get the right of way at the next turn but she wasn't going to let us do that without a fight.
Yes......Rowbust had the right of way.......we rounded the corner and came upon an overturned boat with heads bobbing in the water. We had to take the turn a little wider to stay out of the way of the overturned boat. This boat was the Blind and Partially sighted team. But we did manage to get past Akky's team and on our way to the 3rd turn!
We rounded the 3rd turn with the Australia teams still cheering just as loud! Laura told us that Akky and her Toronto team were behind us and Akky was really trying to get her crew to catch up with us........but that was not to be......Rowbust came in 1st!
Once we were off the water, Akky gave me a hug and said that watching Rowbust paddle from behind us was so beautiful! What a great compliment coming from a World Class Stern!
Then the Opening Ceremonies!!! All of the Athletes proudly marched into the grandstand area behind the flag of their country and then took a seat in the stand with all of the other athletes! A few speeches from the dignitaries and then onto the medal presentations!!!! As in all IDBF championship races, medals are presented for each race distance. Rowbust BCS crew was called up twice. First for winning GOLD in the 500 m race and then for GOLD in the 2 k race!!
Day 1 of racing done....back to the hotel, shower, change and off to the team supper in Vineland!
This was the Rowbust Senior B crew's race day for their three 500 m races and their 2 k. The BCS crew had a sleep in and a nice breakfast and then came to watch their Rowbust sisters battle it out on the water.
This is the 1st time that Rowbust has ventured out of the BCS division and into a competitive Woman's division at an International Sport Championship.
Our Senior B crew was up against very competitive women's crew from Ottawa, Fort Langley and other places.
All three 500 m races were well fought and in each race they improved their time and distance between the 3 leading boats. In each of their 500 m races they placed 4th but oh.....it was soooo close ......they could just "smell" that medal position!!!!
Then came their 2 k race, how exciting to watch a Rowbust crew in action and how beautiful to see how strong they looked passing boats and doing their turns! They looked so strong, so together, what an amazing crew!
I was at the results board waiting for the results to be posted and so many people came up to me (I was wearing my Rowbust racing shirt) and said that they were very impressed by Rowbust and what we were doing. And then Chloe came up to me and said......do you know that you are making history?? Do you know that Rowbust is the 1st BCS crew to compete in a non-BCS division at an International, competitive event? She went on to say how proud she is of Rowbust and how we continue to impress everyone!
Day 2 racing done.......get some supper and to bed because everyone races on Day3!
All 200 m races today. Our BCS crew raced in the morning and our Senior B Crew raced in the afternoon.
Now the nice thing about racing in an IDBF championship race is that every night you submit your crew rosters for the next day of racing and your rosters can be made up of anyone who is signed up for this event.
So, Sarah and Cheryl wanted as many of the crew members to experience the BCS side of racing and for those of us over the age of 50 ......to experience the Senior B side of racing!! So, our 2 rosters were changed slightly from the previous 2 days of racing.
The Rowbust BCS crew raced their three 200 m races in the morning and won all 3 races.......another GOLD medal for that crew!!!!!
The Rowbust Senior B Woman's crew raced against all of the competitive woman's crews in the afternoon. Our 1st race was good but we placed 3rd......Sarah tweaked the seating and gave us some great advice because she knew that we could do better!! Our 2nd race was even better......we placed in 2nd with the 1st place boat about a boat length ahead of us. We KNEW that we could even do better!!!! So, out for our 3rd and final 200 m race...........we each had our instructions from Sarah.......Cheryl gave us our last words of inspiration........down to the start line, into the "boot" and we were all off!!!!
Our start was perfect, our transition was perfect, we had that nice LONG stroke, power on every single stroke, just like doing a canoe test, power into the finish then up and up.....we could hear the roar of the crowd........it just felt so strong. We placed 2nd but the team that placed 1st only had less than half a boat on us.....we made ground with each race and we made those competitive crews sit up and take notice of Rowbust!!! We pulled into the dock and Sarah was running over to us with a HUGE smile on her face.......we KNEW that we did good!!!
Over to the medal presentations and Rowbust BCS was presented with their 3rd GOLD medal and then Rowbust Senior B Woman's crew was presented with our SILVER medal. I can't tell you how proud I am of that Silver medal because that was truly a battle for that medal!!
I have never been so proud of both of these crews, this entire team. Everyone did whatever was asked of them with a smile on their face, everyone encouraged each other and helped each other out, everyone did whatever Cheryl and Sarah asked of them and sat in any seat and whatever boat they were assigned.
Cheryl must have been exhausted by the end of Sunday but it never showed......she always made time to make sure everyone was okay, our rosters were working and to give us our inspirational words of advice. Sarah took time away from her training for the Worlds to make sure both Rowbust crews did the very best that we could do and give each of us any advice that we needed just at the right time. How can we ever thank Cheryl and Sarah enough for all they do for us.....I know that both crews would not have done as well as we both did if not for their Coaching.........that is very special and something that other teams are envious of......thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
Shirley and Laura.....you were both on every single Rowbust boat for every single race and you were both amazing!!!! Thank you so much for guiding us in the race plan!
Thank you to all the crew members for making my job as Captain so darn easy!!! As Sarah told us.......we truly are THE BEST team around!!!!
Enjoy showing of those medals, you deserve every accolade that you can get!
Post submitted by National Crew Captain - Linda Kuska