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What I’ve Been Up To in the Dragon Boat World

June 25, 2011

This year presented a different dragon boat challenge for me.  Les Hopper, the coach of Team USA U23 team asked me to be his assistant coach.  The catch was Les was leaving on a trip around the world for a few months and I would be tasked with teaching Les’ technique, providing practice programs and paddling critiques.

That in and of itself wasn’t too big of an issue.  San Diego and LARD have a lot of similarities in their paddling mechanics (and a few differences) so communicating what Les wanted would not be too problematic.

The challenge presented itself in that the U23 paddlers were from a few different regions of the U.S. – San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minnesota, and Philadelphia.  I didn’t have to worry too much about the Philly paddlers as most of the TeamUSA paddlers (non U23) were paddling out of Philly.  The Minnesota paddler is getting help from her club coach as I have provided him all of the feedback and critiques I’m providing the team (more on this below).  San Francisco and Los Angeles were relying primarily on me.

The Los Angeles pods and San Diego pods weren’t too much of a problem as I could easily handle the Los Angeles paddlers and there is plenty of help down in San Diego.  Unfortunately, there was no one up in San Francisco that could help them with technique and unfortunately, I’m not in a position to fly up to San Francisco every weekend to run practices.

So, what the hell was I supposed to do?  Well, a few of the kids took charge and ran practices on their own.  I gave them a game plan before practices and they paddled and ran practices.  They were able to get video of the sessions so I was able to provide them ample comment.  Hopefully, this helped.  It’s not an ideal situation in that I would much rather be at their practices coaching but what we were doing was better than no coach at all.

Today LARD had its video analysis session.  Two boats of video footage and a swamped boat later, I edited the video this afternoon complete with audio critique.

After I had all the video footage I needed today at LARD’s practice, I took a few photographs.  These were two of my favorite.

I took the picture above from Mike B.’s chase boat.  Mike L is steering.  I love how the paddlers’ top hands kind of make Mike look like he has wings.  I took this with the Canon S95 point and shoot.  If I could do it again, I’d love to shoot it with my Canon 7D and a polarizer on the lens.

Here’s one that I took from the side.  Paddle angles are pretty good (not perfect) and paddle depth is pretty good.

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