Dragon Boat Racing!

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I have a Cornwall based post coming up but it’s in the works. This post has been lying around for three months now, so it’s best I post it.

The day before I went to Mexico I went to the yearly Dragon Boat race. After missing the previous years, I made sure to go, because a) it was fun, and b) I didn’t want to miss out on it again. In case you don’t know, the Chester Dragon Boat Festival is an annual dragon boating event in which Avox, the company I work for, usually participates. It is located here. This year, Wayne had the Gazebos, and I was going with him, so was Adam; this meant being the first there.

When we arrived, it was not so busy, and it was dry. A bit breezy, and a bit chilly, but not raining and not too cold. We got to building the Gazebos as Sean arrived. This was interesting because this meant I could take a photo of the River Dee as it was when we arrived. Until Wayne wanted me back on Gazebo erecting duties (see left).

So as we put up the gazebos some people arrived. We still weren’t at team strength; but people were appearing, albeit slowly. After a while, the Gazebos were up, and the site was now filling up, our own selected site now flanked by other teams, each preparing for the day.

And right on schedule, here came the rain. Not heavy, but steady. That horrible constant light stuff that soaks you in no time. It was also very cold rain, so if you get wet, thats it. Bear in mind we wore purple T-Shirts and it was very cold. I kept thinking of Mexico the next day to try and get over this!

Unlike most Gazebos, these seemed waterproof, unless you touched the actual material. Unfortunately the tiny gap between the two let water through, so there ended up being two groups of people. Mostly isolated from each other, causing a miniature cold war, like a miniscule Russia and USA on opposite sites of a soggy divide.

At this point the rain seemed set in, and it was time for our first race. So our team headed for the disembarking area. We put on our lifejackets, grabbed our paddles, and went through basic training again (and received wristbands to say we had done so).

Then it was onto the boats, precariously balancing down the middle as not to upset the balance. Before we load, we must arrange ourselves by size, with the largest in the middle and smallest at the ends. This ensures the front or back will not be higher or lower in the water which means a fairer race. Fortunately I was not in the middle, but further toward the back so this was a huge bonus. Except when I had to load rather quickly. We got onto the boats, and pushed off from the shore.

Now we had to paddle to the starting area, some distance down the Dee. We would be paddling against the current.

We were off. It was good.We barely lost with a time of 1.27.28. This was the third quickest time for the first round, and of course this meant we were buoyed (hee hee nautical puns) up by this amazing show. It didn’t last, naturally, but good feelings were abound at this point.

Anyway, wetter and colder than ever, we retreated to the Gazebos. The breeze was making the wet T-shirt situation worse, incredibly so. Most of us were freezing, and only the late arrivals had brought coats because it was raining when they left.

We had another two races to go, and each minute meant we were becoming more and more likely to die from hypothermia.

Fortunately, our rather benevolent boss had arranged a cascade of sandwiches. It was like mana from heaven. We scoffed a lot down. There were crisps and beer too. I couldn’t drink too much beer mind, needing to drive back from Wayne’s later in the day, but had only one because I know my limits.

After this snackage we were due for another race, so again we lined up and jumped in the boat. This time we were not as good. Photo finish good. We lost, but by the skin of our teeth. Wait, what does that metaphor even mean? Honestly, teeth don’t have skin. I imagine if they did eating would really hurt. Lame metaphor in my opinion.

In our last race we came last with the slowest time ever. It was not good. We trailed behind the others at such a distance it made us want to cry. You couldn’t tell, of course, because we were all covered in the waters of the Dee. A river that at this point, while treated, contained all the waste of people living in the Wrexham area. Lovely.

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