Congratulations to all paddlers for a fantastic race at Treasure Island this past weekend. Huge thanks goes to those who helped us steer our heats so smoothly and precisely.
With this race concluding the season for our mixed crew, several things come to my mind. First, we just completed what I believe to be our most challenging season ever. From the strength and commitment of just a few paddlers at every practice, we’ve managed to pull together a solid crew for every race this season. Though every team at some point faces the same challenges in keeping practices productive and seats filled, SFL has always seemingly managed to do more with less. It’s a team trait that has made us great when rosters were full and kept us in competitive lanes this season.
Second, 2013 will mark SFL’s 10th anniversary. With 2 paddlers remaining from this crew, SFL has clearly been through its fair share of member turnover through the years. Be it for 1 race or 1 year on the team, every former member of SFL who has graced our boat is sorely missed. I do find it satisfying to see that many former SFL paddlers become coaches and leaders on other Bay Area teams and valued members wherever they choose to find themselves in dragon boat. As familiar faces leave the team, new faces present themselves every year; adding to the rich tapestry that is SFL.
As volatile as the roster has been over the years, the strength of the team comes from its strong bonds among teammates. Our members don’t paddle for the flag we wave, the jersey colors we wear, or the medals to be won. I would paddle my hands raw to get the team over the finish line because I know everybody on this team works just as hard alongside me. We are eclectic in our backgrounds but united in our fighting spirit towards a common goal — doing our absolute best as SFL paddlers regardless of finishing place.
The end of this 2012 season will, undoubtedly, see some of our members to other teams or to time away from the sport in general. As 2013 draws near, I am eager to greet new faces and meet new challenges as one team: united.
Until then, team. 10 years strong. You make it happen. We make it happen together.
We love you long time Long Beach!
Since I didn’t get around to debriefing you all after Sunday’s races, I figured I would post up here and let you all speed through it from the comfort of your own home/place of using a smart device.
First and foremost, I wanted to say thank you for putting in the time to practice, travel, and race with the team. We made the decision as a group to do this months ago and we are sticking to it. I personally thought we did very well the entire weekend. Our gender races were aggressive and effective, especially for the women. You ladies did an awesome job racing against the best teams in California! It is my hope that we can organize several practices with Cal in the upcoming weeks to TI to further develop the performance and cohesion of the gender boats.
I thought our mixed races were a testament to our roots as a small, hardened group of paddlers. We raced with heart and we gave all that we could until there was no more to give. I only managed to snag the GPS on our semi-finals race and you can check it out here:
Our consistency was good AND we managed to pick up the speed of the boat in the finish, which is always difficult. We need to work on being more consistent mid-race to avoid the gradual decline in speed and power. This will be our primary focus in the coming weeks on the lake. Finishing in 8th place might sound bad, but you should remember the teams that we raced against were at an advantage. Having a full, well-trained crew with their own steersperson and drummer goes a long way towards better racing. We were lucky to have Bob, Brian, Gary, Tom, and Audrey to help us out, but we cannot overcome their learning curve with being on a new boat. You all remember how challenging it was to hop into the Cal boat and do their race piece for the first time. Even in our own boat with a full crew, we generally take 1-2 heats to really figure out how best to race in the conditions that we are faced with. This weekend’s racing was not our most consistent.
As for consistency regarding our sprint piece, I must apologize personally for how we performed. You all know a team is made of individuals working behind a unified cause. There are always different opinions among individuals, but being a team is about trusting your teammates to do their best in supporting that unified cause. Our primary goal this year was to race as our own group regardless of what the results may be. Individuals, including myself, always will wish for better performance or better attendance, but it is not our team’s primary goal this year. We sprinted with a paddling rate that made sure we sapped every paddler in our boat to the absolute limit by, or even before (like me), the finish line. If I had a time machine to go back and rate down the sprint, I would but I can’t. If you’ve seen this before (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-6M5FukAoE), maybe Leonidas was thinking “Man, I should have accepted that crippled guy after all” or “I should have brought my Spear of Accuracy +2” but he lead himself and his brave, brawny men to the bitter end of a zillion arrows just to prove a bigger point.
Together we paddled harder and faster in that sprint than we ever have at practice or any other race we had ever done. Even though our mixed crew did not come away with medals and bling, I chose to use the sprint race as a way to show us the limit. Right now, there is no way we can paddle beyond that level of output, but we can certainly work to paddle right up to it. If there’s anything I know as an athlete, it’s that knowing your absolute limit is critical to performing better.
We will be working very very hard in these coming weeks to continue our progress this season. Now that you know your limit, I will push us to surpass it.
Thanks everybody and great job!
Results are up! Congrats to all teams for some killer racing and a big thank you to CDBA for making it all happen.
Congratulations to a race well run, paddlers of SFL. This is why I coach.
Official racing results are now online courtesy of CDBA.
Congrats everybody for a fun day of sprinting out at Quarry Lakes! It was a hard day of racing and is personally one of my favorite events of the season.
To the pandas of the world, this video is for you.
No medals or trophies but at this point, SFL is almost beyond the need for material rewards IMO (reference to the May Day Race from earlier post).
From a team that has not managed to practice with more than perhaps 14 people in the past 2 months, to scrounging adequate numbers to fill the roster, to placing 4th place in Division A, is an unbelievable accomplishment. SFL placed 4th behind BAD 1, Cal, and Lowell while eeking ahead of DW 1 and Ripple Effect essentially closing a 2 month gap in performance within a total of 1500m and 7.5 some-odd minutes of water time today. If that doesn’t say true athletic potential and perseverance, then I don’t know what does.
Special thanks to those teammates who went above and beyond to help the team today: Jeff Ma, Lia Yuen, Alex Ha. SFL could not have done as well today without you. Also I’d like to give special recognition to….everybody (credit where credit’s due, ha). The Timing Box for being everything a coach could want in a group of paddlers who can, within seconds, adjust stroke length and timing w/ the conditions and race goals; The Engine Room for demonstrating great control of effort while conserving your strength and power for when the team needed it most; The Afterburners/Rear/Backhalf (still need a good name for y’all) for staying focused on timing and making the best of turbulent waters to push us onward.
Despite the changing faces amongst our team, the story remains the same. You accomplish more with less. You race smarter, not harder. Your commitment to the team proves to be SFL’s greatest strength.
Thank you for making my day as Head Coach.
Had a great day of racing at Lake Merritt in Oakland. SFL, with it’s 13 paddlers, managed to post the fastest time of the day for any heat and placed first in every heat we raced. In the end, we walked away w/ an awesome home-made trophy plaque for the Women’s Race. Special thanks to Dragon Max ladies for helping us fill the boat.
Thank you to The Oakland Renegades Dragon Boat Team for putting it all together. It was a very fun and novel race.
SFL is going to be entering as a 10-person crew at the Oakland Renegades “May Day Race” 5/1/11. Should be a fun day of paddling with the forecast looking nice.
Stop by and cheer on or say hello!