Last Race of the Season at Treasure... Lake Merritt!

The NorCal International Dragon Boat Festival (every paddler knew it as Treasure Island or TI) is our last race of the season. Teams participating in this race come from all over California, the US, and from other countries. This is the race we have been training for since the beginning of the season and we expect tough competition for all three of our crews.

The Venue

The race site for previous years has been Treasure Island, but this year it has moved to Lake Merritt in Oakland. Rather than racing in open water, it will be in calmer waters which has been helpful in keeping the races moving on time. It is also less terrifying for the new paddlers because all our veteran paddlers know how rocky and windy it was at Treasure Island. The new venue has been great and we look forward to racing there again in the future.

Day 1

Call time to meet at the race site was 6:30AM which is normal for us at this point in the season. We’re used to waking up early and driving all the way to the race site in the dark. It’s necessary because we have to set up the tents and equipment, prepare breakfast, and warm up before our first race of the day. It was extremely crucial because Furious and Fearless were in heats 1 and 2 to start off the race.

After we rushed to set up, eat, and warm up, Furious ran down to race in the first heat of the day. The sun is out and the temperature was warm. There couldn’t be any better racing weather than this. Furious raced hard and took second place in this seeding round, missing first place by half a second. The general consensus on the boat was that the piece was good. The timing was on point for the most part and the rate was very manageable. It could have been a bit faster, but it was better to ease into a faster speed than to rush into it.

Fearless was next following up after Furious. Similarly, they had to rush to the marshalling area as well since this race uses two sets of boats. Talking to one of the paddlers on the boat, he said it wasn’t the best they could have done. The rate was fast and rushed which isn’t uncommon for the first race of the day. We all experience the race-day jitters and are more amped than ever in the first race. This cause us to rush a bit more because we want to do our best and lose sight of our timing. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad as Fearless took fourth place in the race.

Fast had a little more time to prepare since their first race heat 8. Fast didn’t seem to have any problems and took first place by five seconds. In the first seed rounds, crews are put up against others that might be at the same competitive level. This happens all the time and shouldn’t come as a surprise. It as a good way to start their race, but with each race Fast is in, the difficulty will be much more harder.

Moving into the quarter-finals, all three of our crews placed into the higher divisions. Having gotten over the race-day jitters and applying what they learned in the first heat, Fearless took second place which puts them into the Rec A division. Going up against some of the top teams in the Bay Area, Furious placed third and earning a spot in the Comp A division. Similarly for Fast, they placed first and earned in a spot in the Comp A division as well.

We all expected Fast to placed in the higher division, but for Furious and Fearless, it was a huge surprise. Furious hasn’t made it into the Comp A division since 2012 and this is the first time Fearless has made it to the Rec A division. It was an amazing job for the first day of racing. Time to wrap it all up in the second and final day.

Day 2

Our heats for the second day did not start until later in the day so the call time for the second day was an hour later at 7:30AM. Having the extra time to sleep in and recover from the previous day was welcomed. Since we knew how the equipment was going to be setup for this day, things went by quicker and we had time to warm up without having to frantically run around and ready.

We are now in the semi-finals. The results of these race will whether we will be in the consolation or the championship division. The first race went to Fearless who is competing in the Rec A division. In a close race, they were able to take third place and qualified for the Rec A championship. Fast was up next for the Comp A division and took a definite second place to qualify for the Comp A championship. Furious wraps it up the semi-finals, but were unable to make it to the championship race, taking fifth place in their race.

To finish up the final heats of the race, we enter the finals. All of our crews have placed the highest they have ever been at this race. Going up the divisions, Fearless is up first with their race. Working together and putting all they had into the finals, they did their best and placed sixth. Coming in last doesn’t feel the best, but it’s also important to look at the bigger picture. Fearless has placed the highest they have ever been and that is a great accomplishment.

Furious is up next in the Comp A consolations. Again, Furious hasn’t gotten in this division for several years now and they finally made it back up. Even in this consolation race, they were still going up against some of the top teams in the area and it shows. Furious putting everything they had, placed fourth in their division. Again, this is a huge accomplishment as this is the top 10 out of the entire race.

Fast closes out the race in the Comp A championships. This division is for the best of the best crews. Looking at the lineup you know this will be a tough race. With a strong start out and a long settle, Fast placed fourth. This is also another accomplishment since this is the highest Fast has ever placed in this race.

Women and Open Boats

Women and open boat only had two heats, the semi-finals and finals. Both boths made it into the finals with no problems which isn’t a surprise at this point. After seeing the results of these crews from previous races, it was somewhat expected. However, when we got to the finals, that’s when it got tough. Every boat was about equal and all the boats were neck and neck with each other for both of these races. Both crews took fourth place in their heats and it all finished within a second or two. That’s how close these races were.

Wrap Up

This was a great way to end the season on a high note. Sure, we didn’t win any medals, but that’s not the important. The important thing is that we did our best and we progressed as a team. Fast placing fourth in Comp A championship was the highest they have ever gotten. The same goes for Furious at fourth place in Comp A consolations and Fearless at sixth place in Rec A championship. The strength of the team has been slowly getting stronger each year and we will eventually make it to the top. Looking back at the season, I’m sure everyone had fun with the team on and off the water. We are now in our off season and will be taking it a bit easier in our practices to recover. Once the new season starts, we’ll be hitting it hard again. So until then