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My Take on the 2012 Club Crew World Championships

July 13, 2012

This is the race course from the foot bridge across the street.

The Los Angeles Racing Dragons earned the honor of representing the Western Region of the United States at the 2012 Club Crew World Championships in Hong Kong. We were joined by other United States teams including Philadelphia, DCH Racing (New York), Wind City (Chicago), TECO (Florida), San Diego, and Wasabi (Portland).

We experienced the highest level of club crew dragon boat racing. Prior to racing in Hong Kong, I have never seen a team complete a 500m race in 1 minute 49 seconds, nor have I seen a team win a 200m race in 41 seconds (both times by Shunde Dragon Boat Club). The racing was truly unbelievable. Race heats had a maximum of 9 boats per heat from all over the world. I will never forget looking around in the marshaling area at paddlers from countries all over the world – South Africa, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Canada, China, Macau, Philippines, and Australia to name a few.

It was as if we were racing amongst giants. As is typical with LARD, we were one of the smallest teams in stature but still managed to put our Long Beach community on the map.

LARD Powered by Kialoa paddles out during the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Race on the Monday before Club Crew World Championships.

Steersmen were given the ultimate test. To protect from the brutal currents and waves of the Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong brought in a series of barges in hopes of protecting the race course. Obviously, all of the crews and their steersmen were world caliber but it didn’t matter. Even with the barges in place, multiple steersman lost control zig zagging across lanes and sometimes literally running over other dragon boats (one paddler was hit by another boat and was taken away with a concussion). One of the steersman literally fell out of his boat while snapping his steering oar in half. In one of our turns in the 2000m, a caller fell into the water after wake and waves side-swiped their boat. Multiple boats sunk because they took in too much water during their race. Pure carnage!

Paddlers and steersmen were not the only ones tested. The LARD captains Crystal and Tabitha had to deal with perhaps the most paperwork I have ever seen related to a single race. With the help of the LARD board, our captains were able to keep us organized and sane.

My personal highlights included having the opportunity to race against Philadelphia in two heats. For those of you new to dragon boat, Philly is the elite dragon boat team in the USA. They pretty much win everything and a core of their paddlers make up a good portion of the USA National Team (not club crew). Our premier mixed crew raced Philly as well as Windy City in a 200m semi final and were able to best our USA counterparts by clocking in at 46.763 seconds. Also, our open team faced off with Philly in a 500m repechage. We were able to hold Philly off for about 490 meters but Philly, being the champions they are, nudge us out at the finish line by 0.2 seconds. Still, a remarkable result considering the last time we faced off with them a few years ago they beat us by about 2 boat lengths.

For those of you that have yet to experience a Club Crew World Championship, here are a few interesting notes that we don’t see to often in our local festival races – we didn’t wear pfds while racing, each paddler was assigned a number that we had to wear on our uniforms that were cross checked multiple times with the picture IDs we wore around our necks to insure that no teams would cheat with their rosters, we raced 3 distances (200m, 500m, 2000m) in 2 divisions (mixed and open) over a span of 6 days, the conditions were so rough that they reduced the amount of paddlers in a boat from 20 to 18 and recommended all crews leave row 1 empty (a few teams did not heed this advice and ended up sinking), the on-water referee was one of the most aggressive a-holes around as he would routinely chastise and even taunt teams because of what he perceived they did wrong, and finally, the water in Victoria Harbour is extremely dirty. You will never hear me complain about water quality at Mother’s Beach.

Thanks to our supporters across the Long Beach community and to our sponsors Kialoa and Stohlquist.

For other photos, see the last few posts.

This is the cheesy sign that greeted paddlers as they crossed the foot bridge to the race site.

A shot of the Big Buddha about 20 minutes before I realized my iPhone was gone.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Teredactle permalink
    July 27, 2012 7:51 am

    Great job guys!! Watching your video gives me goosebumps and reminds me of the races. Very intense competition, loved it!!!

    We also complain about the water where we train [Lachine Canal], but after HK (and getting hit and tipping) the water now seems very clean. We counted 4 dead rats as well as numerous condoms and other garbage, truly disgusting that IDBF would agree to such a course.

    Well done, love the video.

    -22 Dragons (Mixed and Open)

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