This past weekend, the Living Root Dragon Boat club brought 74 paddlers, drummers and steerers to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival of Boston. These athletes were broken down into 4 mixed boat crews, covering a broad range of paddling experience. Ours was by far the largest contingent at the festival; during our warm up on the Weeks Bridge on Sunday morning, our lines stretched almost all the way from the Cambridge side to Boston.
But our strength wasn’t just numerical! Living Root teams fought vigorously for every meter of the 500 meter course, and at the end of the weekend two teams had medaled. The youth team - least in experience but lacking nothing in terms of enthusiasm and determination - had several extremely exciting races, and won 1st place in the High School Division. In numerical terms, they started the weekend with a time of 3:02 and finished strong at 2:44.92. Team 3 began the weekend at 2:54, and by their 2nd heat on Sunday had shaved off 12 seconds to hit 2:42 to win 3rd place in B Division.
The more experienced crews of Teams 1 and 2 found themselves in the steeper competition of A Division. Team 2 held its own, progressing from 2:49 to 2:36.98. In the meantime, Team 1 notched itself down from its time-trial score of 2:34 to 2:25.59 in the Division A Semi-Finals (a nail-biter in which we chased down Jade Adrenaline, coming in 2nd place by only 2.5 seconds). We secured a rank of 4th overall by winning the Division A Minor 1 heat, beating the Dragon Boat Club of Boston-Wake Riders by a mere 2 seconds.
To put this weekend in perspective, Living Root began its existence as a club in the spring of 2005 with something like 16 people Racing in Boston and Pawtucket. We didn’t even own a dragon boat in which to practice until this past April! Last season, LRBD brought 39 people to Boston in two boats, attaining a best score of approximately 2:55. We then went on to race in Montreal (for a seasonal best of 2:24), Pawtucket and Hartford.
Then the season ended. The cold, dreary winter months were spent sitting along the edge of the pool in Somerville’s JFK elementary school’s basement, paddling our guts out. Each week we came to practice in our subterranean lair, hungrily awaiting the day when we could emerge into the light and claim the races we’d earned.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of both paddling for the veteran Team 1 and steering the youth team (with Sprouty on the drum). What an amazing time! We measured my left bicep last night, and found that its circumference was at least 1/2″ greater than my right! That’s the only problem with this sport: your body can become asymmetrical, making you look like a fiddler crab.
To end this post, here’s a video montage of our Hartford race last year, shot and edited by the lovely and talented Laura Klink, the official Living Root roadie. Enjoy!
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