This summer I finally had some free time to join EPA's dragon boat team.
Our first regatta of the year, the Independence Dragon Boat Regatta was held today in Philly along the Schuylkill River. If you are wondering what the heck is a dragon boat, it's a narrow boat that holds 20 people. Each person paddles on a certain side and everyone paddles in sync to the beat of a drum at the front of the boat.
Pictured here are Philly's finest: the police and the firemen. In their "fun" heat, the cops blew the firemen away. Anyway, this picture gives you an idea of what the boats look like and the set up.
At the beginning of the day, all of the teams participated in a series of heats that determined which division they would compete in later in the day in the semi-final and final heats. I think there were 10-12 heats w/ ~4 teams per heat. There were 6 divisions, A being the fastest and F being the slowest. Our boats placed in the semi-finals for the B and C divisions; I was on the boat that placed in the B division. Everyone was impressed that we were fast enough to place that high.
The races take just under 3 minutes and then we were sitting around the rest of the day. Our first race was at 9AM and our next one wasn't until 2:10. I brought some knitting to help me pass the time. Luckily we were in the shade b/c it was up in the 90s today and with the humidity, it felt like over 100. I drank so much, yet b/c I sweat so much I only had to deal w/ the nasty port-o-potties once!
Since we were up and at the race so early (7:45), we were pretty beat by the time the final heats rolled around at 3:30. As you can see, a number of folks took a nice cat nap. :-)
We placed into the grand finale round of our division (B). Everyone was really impressed that we had placed there since we were up against 3 teams, all of whom own their own boats. Um, most of us made it to only 2 or 3 practices before today. In addition, one of the teams was made up of teenagers (they had youth and weight, or lack thereof, on their side) and the other two teams were the competitive women's teams. So, going into our final round, we knew we were at a disadvantage. In the end, we came in fourth, but were really proud of where we placed to begin with. It really was a lot of fun.
The A division, which had the fastest teams was a great race. They were basically neck and neck during the entire course. As you can see, just before the finish, it was any one's race.
Aside from the heat, it really was a great day. As soon as I got home, I immediately changed into my bathing suit and hopped into my pool. I was so hot, I think that was the only thing I could do to bring my temperature down!
Our team only has two events it participates in at the moment: today's event and one in October. I'm bummed b/c I already know I am going to miss the next one. However, I definitely plan to do this again next year.
For now, I leave you all with a picture of the EPA Dragons!