Friday July 31, 2015 we were to be on the bust and on our way by 8:00 a.m. However, our oldest paddler (who shall remain nameless) thought we were to be off by 9 and actually thought she was early arriving at our meeting site. We waited for our beloved sister and we are so glad we did wait for her and you’ll know why later. All is good and we were off with our own Sam and Jan team driving the bust to get us to Burlington, Vermont.
Our first stop was at the Big Apple near Colbourne. This was to be a strict 40 minute lunch and back on the bus to continue on our way. Well we missed the 40 minutes by 5 minutes, got the lecture and we never were late again.
On the bust we watched a movie, then the ukeleles came out to practice our team song for the weekend, “Takin' Care of Business”. We only needed a few run threws, gotter down pat, followed by serenading uking in the background. Then the Border crossing at Cornwall, we had a wee bit of a delay, a nice officer came on board, took all the passports and we had a couple of foreigners on board who had to be finger printed, photo ID’d and pay their $6.00 visitor visa.
We arrived safely at our hotel the Windjammer, Best Western around 7:30ish, got checked in, then off for a late dinner and bed for an early morning rise.
Saturday, everyone was up bright and early for a 6:30am breakfast and on the bus for 7:15am to be on our way to the race site.
What a beautiful location, stunning scenery with the mountains in the foreground overlooking the unpredictable waters of Lake Champlain, very nice marine harbour. It was rather quiet on site as only the BCS teams were racing this day, we enlisted the help of the men to put our tents up.
What a warm Welcome we received from the Dragonheart ladies, they were so glad we came! Their hospitality, generosity and helpfulness throughout the whole weekend was second to none.
Next, we were off to our 1st Workshop of the day, a lesson on “the catch”, intro, video and then in to the boats for a one hour practice on the catch. Once that was done, Laura was shuttled out to us in style for our first 500m race of the day. We won our heat and placed 3rd overall (2.23.740) with the other 11 BCS teams. Not our best for sure and for awhile we didn't know how we placed, we were the underdogs between us, Windsor WonderBroads (2.21.820) and Dragonheart Vermont Sisters (DHVT Sisters)(2.21.650).
A quick break and off to our next Workshop with BC’s own Kevin Kwan on Diners, Drive-in’s and Paddlers. He was fun, so entertaining (nice eye candy too) and had great props to make his points.
Just prior to a picnic lunch being served, the paddlers were bagpiped in to the Main Stage. Lunch was quite the spread, over 400 people! We were entertained by the Bonnie Jean and the Sisters at Heart House Band, followed by each Team presenting their cheers and chants. That was great fun to see the team spirit of everyone with their props, moves and chants. Rowbust tuned their ukes and we sang “Takin Care of Business’. After that a photo opp.
In Lake Champlain style the beautiful calm waters quickly became extremely rough with high winds, the storm was coming in fast, pounding rain (thankfully this happened over the lunch break and not while any of us were on the water) and as quickly as it came in it left giving us back the sun, however the waters stayed rather rough.
Now it was the finals, the first 3 sets of 3 teams did 500m races. We were the last set of 3 teams to race but because the waters were too rough and we only had to do a 400m race with the wind at our backs. The water certainly was rougher and here we are the 3 top teams, we moved in for the Silver position with a time of 1.38.010, 1st place DHVT Sisters 1.37.970 and 3rd WonderBroads 1.39.570 - a paperclip moment.
We were presented with our medals and a beautiful pewter plate - well done ladies another great day on the water. This was topped off with delicious Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. Then back to the hotel to freshen up, relax and off to take in the sites of beautiful downtown Burlington and/or join the Paddles Up Party at the main stage.
Sunday 6:30am breakfast, on the bus by 7:05am, over to another hotel to pick up some of the Peterborough team and back to the race site. It certainly was much busier with the community teams setting up their tents. It was another gorgeous day for 200m racing.
The BCS teams were up first. Rowbust in the 2nd heat. We won the heat and this placed us 3rd overall, here are the times of top 4, more paperclip moments:
- WonderBroads 58.28
- DHVT Sisters 58.45
- Rowbust 59.48
- Survivors Abreast 58.85
Sarah blatantly advised us that it was a crap race, too much "spinning" and we knew it. We had to settle down, do what we do best, good long stroke, power in the water….
The crew stayed out on the water for the Flower Ceremony. One of the team mates from Dragonheart that morning picked over 200 sunflowers for this event vs having carnations. They were beautiful but perhaps a bit dangerous to toss, Laura was ducking rather lower to avoid contact with a sunflower head or two. It was a perfect time to remember our sisters going through the battle, we thought of June and those who lost their battle, Bruna, Melina, Gail and so many more, we will not forget their strength and courage and the memories they gave us.
There was no time between these races - lunch what lunch?
Quarter Finals we got better and placed 2nd overall - look at these times:
- Survivors Abreast 58.40
- Rowbust 58.45
- WonderBroads 58.90
- DHVT Sisters 59.28
Semi-Finals - So it was DHVT against Survivors Abreast and us against WonderBroads in 2 boat heats. Denise was doing such a great job along with Carolyn B stroking, but unfortunately was having some shoulder issues. So Sarah in her wisdom, called on Judy our oldest member. Ya she is closer to 80 than she is to 70 and Judy rocked both races. Here is a quote from her son Tal who was there to see Mom in action along with her 1 year old grandson and daughter in law, “Still in awe watching 20 old ladies can get him excited”. We're so proud of you Judy and you leave us in AWE of you:
- DHVT Sisters 59.29
- Rowbust 59.68
- WonderBroads 59.74
- Survivors Abreast 59.81
Man a lot of bantering back and forth with times and placing between these 4 teams. A fabulous showing for the Canadian crews.
Now the Finals with little time to spare, Sarah was working frantically to pull the final roster together, some were in and out of the boat a few times. Rowbust against DHVT Sisters the home town host team celebrating their 10th anniversary, like no pressure. We heard later that the announcer invited all the community teams to the shore to watch some world class racing as the last time we saw Vermont it was in Italy for the Club Crew World Championships in 2014. Even though we were a very different crew in Vermont than was in Italy we were still representing Rowbusts World Championship team and intended to do the organization proud. We are side by each you could hear each other breath, the anticipation was electric, then the horn blows, we dug deep, we were side by side all the way down the race course, we could hardly hear Laura or Shirley giving commands. The crowd was so loud, this was their home team, their 10th anniversary, it was like being at the Daytona 500 but us ladies had our engines running in high gear. Finally the Finish line and a quick HOLD HARD as the docks are right there. The announcer couldn't call the race and then it came ROWBUST WITH A TIME OF 59.06 TAKES THE GOLD!!!! DHVT SISTERS WITH A TIME OF 59.35 TAKES THE SILVER!! WOW WOW WOW how exhilarating, this is one race none of us will ever forget. We emptied the tank.
There were tears of joy, high fives, hugs with our team mates and with the Dragonheart team. I heard even the guys shed a tear or two and perhaps lost a vocal cord or two as well.
Off to the medals tent to receive our medals, another beautiful pewter plate, a photo opp and a request from Survivors Abreast to sing our chant … “we’re sexy and we paddle”, they love it.
Before we wrapped up our tent we had a couple of special ladies from the Vermont crew who took a shine to us as did us to them and we gave them some goodies bags filled with pins, Canadian mementos, and each received a Canadian lawn chair. They were very touched and loved having us to their event.
Another long day ended in the Main Tent for A Beer, some crazy dancing!
We had dinner reservations at Sweetwaters in Burlington, had the entire mezzanine level. A toast of Champagne to all.
Monday, we got to sleep in we weren't leaving til 9. Sam took us back to the Canadian Border another route more scenic, just beautiful water ways in Vermont. We hit the border at a busy time, lots of campers and us and of course we get pulled over for inspection. Finally out of there with compliments that we all pack so neatly. Then on to bumper to bumper traffic.
So to pass the time the Wharton's did their rendition of name that song and singer. Then each of us took the mike and spoke about what the weekend meant to us. We never have that opportunity and it was so great to hear that everyone enjoyed their experience.
I’m trying to wrap this up I know its really long, so please bare with me for some Thank You's:
- 1st of all our Coach Sarah, she kept us on track and focused, she knew exactly what we needed to hear and we did give her a great smile on her face at the end of both days - Thank you Sarah
- 2nd Lauree Taylor for working out all the logistics, all those emails and planning those side trips that didn't happen, our times, our eating choices, etc. etc. Thank you Crew Manager Lauree
- Sam our Busie, the best ever, and his beautiful personal assistant Jan, great driving, always a pleasure
- To our tag along guys we love you, we can count on you to help out but best of all you support us
- To those at home thanks for your support we felt your energy
- To the Board thank you for allowing those of us less travelled to have this opportunity to have some FUN, but I’m aware those who get the opportunity to travel more had a blast thanks ladies for helping us out.
VERMONT WE'LL BE BACK!!
This is your event Captain signing off!
Post Submitted by Anne Hussey, Vermont Festival Crew Captain