United We Stand

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.

Long Beach 2012

We love you long time Long Beach!

Long Beach Debrief

Hey everybody,

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!


CDBA 2012 Sprint Results Online!

Results are up!  Congrats to all teams for some killer racing and a big thank you to CDBA for making it all happen.

View results online here

Sprint Race 2012

Stay strong
Stay true
Stay passionate
Stay together.

Congratulations to a race well run, paddlers of SFL.  This is why I coach.

May Race 2012 Results Online

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Official racing results are now online courtesy of CDBA.

Check them out here!

Such a dashing team…

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.

Amazing performance at May Race 2011

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.

Oakland Recap

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.

To Oakland!

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!

TI 2010 De-Brief

There’s a saying that you’re only as fast as the slowest person on the team.  If that’s true, then we’re all pretty damn fast.

We set our sights on running a 2:15 and entering Comp Division B.  We exceeded those goals by placing into Consolation A.  Although there are no medals, trophies, or award ceremony stage time for our 4th place, we have proven ourselves once again to be a Top 10 team.  That is Top 10 out of 70+ teams.  Practically every team we raced in our heats had paddlers who were older, more experienced, had more expensive equipment, practiced more days per week, were physically larger/stronger/taller than we are.  I hope that realization alone means more to you than any shiny piece of metal.  As a team that practices 1-2 times/wk with an average of 14 people, we have proven ourselves to be some of the toughest paddlers on the field in my opinion.

So paddle onward SFL.  Paddle strong and get ready for 2011…because somebody has to be the wildcard…


The race is never over SFL and don’t you forget it.

Soapbox 2009

TI is over and so what?

No medals, no trophies. No prizes except for a scratchy, plastic, orange wristband for that matter.  So what’s the reward?  Consider this!

College crew: you guys placed in Rec A finals.  Now check this out – https://sfldbt.wordpress.com/team-photos/
You all stand where the original SFL crew was in 2004.  Coincidence?  Sure.  Promising?  You bet.  Every crew in every team starts somewhere and with dedication, focus, and intensity, there’s no telling how far you can go!  College cup is around the corner and I promise you my full attention.  In exchange, I dare you to push your limits as individual paddlers during the coming month and thrive as SFL’s official college crew.

Mixed crew:  Back when I was a competitive swimmer in high school, I won my events.  I was the fastest public school swimmer in the 50 and 100 yd freestyle for 3 years.  With that, what you don’t know is I never broke any records or managed to place in the top 3 when racing private school swimmers.  I was always beaten by those who had more practice and racing experience in much higher brackets of competition.  That being said, I was perfectly happy winning local public school races and even stopped swimming competitively when I got to college.  I was afraid that the commitment to stay competitive in the NCAA would take too much time/effort with little chance to be #1 ever again.  Beginning to sound familiar?

SFL has “forever” been known to be the odd-ball crew that placed well in B division.  Year after year, race after race, we were king of the hill.  Of course, that hill was a small mound of dirt in the middle of a little pond nobody really paid attention to.  For SFL, complacency was the name of the game and it was first on my list of things to overcome when I took up coaching.  I knew we were good but I wanted us to be better.

In March, I remember directing your attention to DW and saying “there’s no reason we can’t be like that.”  Some of you chuckled, most of you shook your heads.  Deep down, I had the same feeling.  Then came Redwood City with our breakout race against DW – the nervous chatter of DW, the cheers of relief when they pulled ahead of us at the very finish.  I knew we were onto something that both scared and excited me.  Here I was, ready to battle Ripple Effect, Cal and DW2 as we always have when each race found us seconds ahead, nipping the heels of premier teams.  Wherever we raced, reputations no longer seemed to matter.  With over 42 practices this season, SFL was performing at a level where I was afraid we’d have little chance to be #1 ever again.  Also sound familiar?

I always joked that teams never saw us coming this season, but that’s because I never saw us coming.  Jon made a great point when he said top teams won’t roll over for us to win.  Good news is they won’t need to.  We still haven’t raced our best race yet, and if that means we keep exploding past teams on our way towards that best race then I’ll be there to light the fuse.

Let’s see what you’re really made of SFL.

Video: TI 2009 Grand Championship

BAD’s Video:

LARD’s Video:

Invite to Banff

I have to admit: the first time I heard Banff I misheard it as “BAMFF”, which led me to believe it was an acronym for “BAD ASS MUTHA-F’N FESTIVAL”.

Anyways, here’s the invite, via the SFL youtube channel:

banff invite

Sweet! We’re all invited.

And more info on the race:

The race is taking place August 15th & 16th, about a week from now. This is the second year of the annual event, with 25 teams competing this time around. I wouldn’t expect much competition, but who knows, maybe there’s going to be crazy Canadian teams. And since its in Banff National Park, it looks to be the most awesome dragon boat festival locale ever.

Major League Dragon Boat

As you all know, SFL has been invited to participate in the 2010 Orlando Dragon Boat Festival hosted by GWN, the company that started Major League Dragon Boat this year. The MLDB Series has four events:

  1. GWN Sport Regatta: Toronto, Ontario – July 18, 2009
  2. GWN Dragon Boat Challenge: Toronto, Ontario – September 12 & 13, 2009
  3. Mercer County Dragon Boat Festival: West Windsor, New Jersey – September 19, 2009
  4. Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival: Lake Buena Vista, Florida – October 17, 2009

Cash prizes are awarded to winners. In the events prior to the Orlando race, division winners get 50% off Orlando fees. Here’s the breakdown of cash prizes at Orlando:

orlando cash prize pool

Also, GWN has a North American ranking system for the 700 teams that have participated in events for the past year. Events included in the rankings depends on the organizers of the race itself, and the overall ranking is based on the team’s average times. GWN uses formulas and conversions to account for water conditions, and to convert different race distances to a 500m equivalent time. They use a formula based on the assumption that a team reaches max speed at 50m, and maintains an average speed during the rest of a race.

Here’s the top 40:

mldb ranking 8-1-09Entire Crew Ranking (as of 08-01-09)

  1. At Portland, SFL was faster than the Anniemaniacs (ranked 28th) by 2-3 seconds on average
  2. DW is ranked 36th; Galileo is ranked 74th
  3. At Long Beach, SFL’s 1B final time was 2:14.20; DW’s 1B final time was 2:18.26; Galileo’s 1A final time was 2:15.08
  4. Few teams missing: LARD, Mt. Home Canoe Club, SFL, and others

There’s also another ranking done by the people at Dragon Boat West, which you can check out here.