Flaman Dragon Slayers Rip Up the River!
I’m going to be honest, before this year, I had never really heard of the sport of Dragon Boating. But after competing in the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival this year, I wonder how I’d gone this long not knowing.
Dragon Boating is very much a team sport that requires commitment and comradery. Our Flaman team was called the Flaman Dragon Slayers and we started practicing in May as soon as the weather was warm enough. I was one of the eight first-timers in the boat this year, but that didn’t slow us down. All the veteran paddlers took us newbies under their wings and patiently showed us proper technique and timing. By the time the festival rolled around, I felt pretty confident.
However, that confidence was short lived come race day. It’s not that I wasn’t confident in our team, but the nerves that I had coursing through my body made me start to doubt myself. I had a giant knot in my stomach all morning. When we were sitting in the boat for the first race waiting for them to blow the start horn, I thought I was going to pass out. We were told to focus and keep our head in the boat. Ignore all the distractions; the crowd, the other boat and birds flying overhead. Just focus on your breathing. Listen for the commands. Wait…wait….and beep!
Once that horn blew, the 2:05 that it took us to finish, and win, the race went by so fast! It was over before I knew it. I will never forget that “high” from the first race. We may have only won our first race, but we set the 6th fastest time in the festival! We were in equal competition with some of the best teams in the city and other parts of Alberta. Each race we competed in gave me a huge surge of adrenaline and it stayed with me for the rest of the day.
We ended up finishing 6th overall, which is awesome for my first year. There was only one downside to the races, and that was the fact that they put a ramp and about 20 stairs at the end of the race that you have to climb up. The reason this sucks is because after the race, your body does not want to go up a ramp or stairs. All it wants to do is collapse with exhaustion. But, along the ramp there were tons of people congratulating and high fiving us on the way up, so that made the climb a little easier.
Everyone at the festival was so supportive of one another. There were congratulations and cheers after each race. This was another thing that made my experience so enjoyable.
I’m looking forward to paddling next year. I’ll be that much more skilled and know what to expect. If you ever get the opportunity to try Dragon Boating, or any new sport for that matter, I recommend trying it. Try something new. You’ll be glad you did. I’m glad I did J
“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”- Warren Miller