Category Archives: Worlds 2009

More Worlds Video

Nathan was looking for video of the Premier Mixed 500m Final (recap) so here it is.  Thanks to Jonathan for getting someone to film with his camera and Ron to post it – not sure who was behind the camera.  The video is pretty much just us although you do see the other teams right at the end.  From closest to the camera you have:

  1. Canada
  2. Germany
  3. China
  4. Philippines
  5. USA
  6. Russia
Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Also of note are the white distance markers on the far shore. The water level is normally almost up to the bottom of the signs, and thus we had the shallow course with lane bias.

World Championships Videos

Below is the 1000m World Championship Premier Open Final (recap).  It’s a nice video because you can watch the entire race and see how it all unfolded.  It’s interesting for me to watch it and compare with the memories I have of the race.  First the Philippines jumps out to a huge lead which I remember (you don’t have to be looking over to know when a team gets that far ahead).  I remember “feeling” and hearing the Americans right beside us but had no clue where we stood relative to anyone else.  I also distinctly remember Jeff (our steersman) telling us “The Philippines are coming back to us” which you see clearly in the video and at that point I think the crew knew we were in a battle for the medals.

After about 350m you will see the Slovaks take full advantage of Lane 1 and take a lead and were not challenged from then on.  I didn’t realize how well positioned we were as we came through 500m in medal position.  The 3rd 250m we seemed to lose a bit of ground but I don’t remember it being poor; probably the rest of the field made a move.  Then the last 250m we had a great finish (which was our trademark all regatta) to overtake the Philippines but unfortunately the Germans were waiting and biding their time and had an even better finish to steal the bronze.

The lineup with Lane 1 closest to the camera:

  1. Slovak Republic
  2. Canada
  3. USA
  4. Philippines
  5. Germany
  6. Russia

Compare that video with this one of the blur that is the 200m race (recap).  The Philippines and China completely destroy the field with their really high stroke rates.  The shallow course favoured the lighter crews with high rates for the shorter distances; even in deep water those two crews would have been untouchable but the race would have been much tighter.

The lineup with Lane 1 closest to the camera:

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Slovak Republic
  3. Philippines
  4. Germany
  5. China
  6. Canada

All Done

The racing is now over and we’re getting ready to head out on our Eastern European adventure before ending up in Sweden on Sept 9.

The final day of racing was the 500m distance for the Open crew.  We had another 4 hard races and just missed a spot in the Grand Final by 0.084 seconds.  The Open 500 final is the final race of the event and everyone really wanted to be racing in it.  However after the dissapointment of just missing out on taking part in the big show we composed ourselves well and then went out and won the Minor Final for a seventh overall standing.

For a relatively new crew I think we have to be pretty pleased with the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th place standings in our races especially given how competitive the field is.

I’m not sure how much conectivity we’ll have in the next week so this might be the last post for a while.

World Champions

Premier Mixed 500m Gold Medalists and World Champions – the team from CANADA!

I don’t have the words to describe it yet; the accomplishment has not yet fully sunk in.  Personally I had three of the hardest races of my life today – my lungs are shot from all the racing, but I was still able to belt out some off key Oh Canada which is a something I won’t soon forget.

After the semi-finals we were ranked third which put us into Lane 1 for the final.  What has become clear is that Lane 1 is deeper than the others and thus the boats move faster.  Maybe this was some sort of karma payback from yesterday’s drum malfunction, but we’ll take it.

The way we raced the final there is no doubt in my mind that we would have won a medal from any lane, but in the back of my mind I’ll always wonder if we would win that race on a fair course.  However the excitement of the moment will not be forgotten, and the chance to experience it with Catherine is very special.  I hope we have the chance to experience something similar in the future – maybe we’ll get the chance to defend the title in Tampa in 2011.

I’ll probably have much more to say about this day later, but for now I’ve got to get to bed and rest up for tomorrow when the men get their chance to take on the 500m distance.

I’ve got the need, the need for speed

Today was the 200m distance races which require a lot of speed due to their shortness.

The mixed races were in the morning and after a somewhat subpar performance in our heat we won the repechage convincingly.  That put us into the semi where we got a great start and looked to be headed to the final.  Unfortunately the big drum at the front of the boat came loose and started hitting into the paddlers in bench 1.  They held things together unbelievably and our drummer did a magical job holding the drum back.  But in such a short race something like that can make the difference and probably did for us as we just missed out on the final relegating us to the Minor Final.  It was a tough pill to swallow, but that’s racing.

The Open crew raced in the afternoon and had 3 really exciting races.  We managed to go straight from heat to semi and then stepped it up in the semi to claim the final spot in the Grand Final.  The final was another great race where we finished 5th.  Given how tight the Open field is top to bottom it was a real accomplishment to get that far and then hold our own in the final.  We’re pleased with the effort and looking forward to the 500m on Sunday where we’ll do whatever we can to be in the final race of the event.

The Phillipines were the real stars of today’s action winning both Mixed and Open with an absolutely incredible display of paddling.  Hopefully some video shows up online because it’s worth a look.

After 7 hard races today, I’m exhausted so that’s it for today.  Tomorrow is Mixed 500 – our specialty!

Awesome!

The boys stepped up big time today and we had a series of great races culminating with a 4th place finish in the Grand Final less than half a second from silver.  The 2nd-5th place teams all came to the line right together.  We battled down the course the whole way with the USA who were the defending champions.

The race schedule forced us to have to race 4 times in the space of 5 hours which was a major challenge, but the crew keeps getting better each time we get on the water so it didn’t hurt us too much to race the extra time.

Compared to the last worlds in 2007 the level of competition is significantly stronger.  Before our semi-final I thought to myself that in Australia this could have been the final line-up.  So even though we only placed one position higher than two years ago we have made a major step forward.  The guys from the East have meshed really well with us Western boys and brought the extra power that we’d lacked at times in the past.

Even though we’ve had two fourth-place finishes we’re super upbeat about how things are progressing and are looking forward to attacking the 200m distance in both Mixed and Open tomorrow.  We had some very good starts today so we’re in good shape for the shorter all-out sprints.

For those more interested in the cooking-show updates, as I write this Catherine has just finished whipping up a great smelling stir fry with our sweet hotplate setup.  And we’ve got a hot whole roasted chicken from Tesco courtesy of Jonathan so we’re going to eat like kings tonight.

Catherine and Erica cooking
Catherine and Erica cooking

Tough first day

The first day of racing is complete with some tough results in the two 2000m races.  The Open crew had a solid race but with just a little less aggressiveness than is required at this level.  The final placing was 8th but the difference between 3rd and 8th was pretty small – only 7 seconds.  The Mixed crew ended up 4th only 0.57s from the bronze.  All results are at http://www.dragonboat2009.com/results

The boats they are using here are wider than we are used to and coupled with a seemingly shallow course that produces a lot of wash the amount of water being taken on by the crews was pretty significant.  After seeing a number of crews sink in previous races we ended up using 18 paddlers for Open to reduce the weight and keep water out.  The trade off of course is a lack of power.  We didn’t take on too much water so I luckily didn’t have to stop paddling and bail water as I was the designated bailer.  Overall the race was a positive beginning to the championships as we saw that we can compete at this level, but as we know this is a very competitive category and we’ll need to be at the top of our game the rest of the week if we are to be competitive.

After a short delay due to an intense thunderstorm that turned the site into a bit of a mud pit, the Mixed crew raced an amazingly gutsy race from start to finish.  We caught up to the Germans in front of us but the conditions made it impossible for us to get past them.  The Russians started last behind us and we’re able to delay their start position enough to have some clean water which was a great tactical move on their part.  Too bad as defending world champions we weren’t afforded the right to start last.

This was one of the hardest (if not hardest) races I’ve ever done.  Mentally it was a real challenge to keep the body physically going, and everyone else was is the same position.  Physically we could not have done more and I’m so proud of the entire crew.  Personally I feel extremely confident that the peaking process has worked as I was able to push my self very hard and perform at a level that I am accustomed to at big events.

As expected there are many strong crews here especially the Europeans on their home turf and the Chinese have brought a very strong team.  That’s what you want at the worlds is the opportunity to race the best.  We’re very excited to start racing the straight-line events next as the number of variables decreases significantly and the element of luck plays much less of a part.

Tomorrow we start with the gruelling and tactical 1000m distance for the Open crew (so Catherine gets a much deserved day off).  We’ll have to race 3 or 4 times so it’s going to be an exhausting day, but one I’m really looking forward to.

Tomorrow we race

Just got back to the hotel after the fourth and final day of practice before the 9th World Dragon Boat Racing Championships which begin tomorrow.  Each of the last four days has been remarkably similar:

  1. Wake up early (06:00ish)
  2. Eat breakfast with paddlers from around the world (some who clearly have a different interpretation of how to queue up!)
  3. Take the Team Canada shuttle bus to the race course about 45 minutes away in the middle of nowhere.
  4. 1 hour off-water warm up (run, active movements, talk, etc.)
  5. 1 hour practice in either Open (men’s) or Mixed boat
  6. 1 hour break
  7. 1 hour practice in the other boat
  8. 1 hour eating/stretching/debrief
  9. 45 minutes back on the bus to the hotel
  10. (Optional) Take the free bus over to Tesco to get more food
  11. Eat/hydrate/rest for 4 or 5 hours
  12. Bed

So not much time for any more sightseeing, but that’s totally fine with me as I’m here for only one reason and that’s to race the best possible races and leave with no regrets.

The on-water part has been really great.  The men have really come together in 4 days with each practice being better than the last.  The mixed is such a well oiled machine that we’ve been just working on the fine tuning and we’re so fired up to race and show the world how much faster we are than in 2007 (when we won Gold, Silver and fourth).

I’m feeling great mentally albeit a little physically beat up.  Nothing serious, but I’ve got a few sore spots in my back from who knows what and my elbows tendons are a bit beat up from all the start pieces we’ve been doing in practice.  The starts are the most intense part of the race and most likely to cause injury due to the power you need to apply to overcome the resistance of the big heavy boat in the water.  During the race my entire body will be in excruciating pain so a couple little sore spots won’t make any difference.

We looked over the race draw last night which always gets me psyched up.  I’m not sure why seeing the country names on paper makes any difference, but for me it somehow seems more real when I see it.  As you would expect from the world championships there will be no easy races; we’ll need to be at our best every single time we go out there.  And that really is the main challenge of a five day event like this.  All the teams are good and everyone can lay down a really good time once but doing it over and over again can be a different story.

Tomorrow I’ll be racing the 2000m race in both Open and Mixed and Catherine will race the Mixed.  The 2000m is a bit of a crazy race as it is run with three turns one after each 500m.  Teams start 12 seconds apart and chase each other down and each team’s time is calculated after the race to determine the winner.  There are so many boats on the course that there will be wash (waves created by the boats) all over the place so we’ll need to be careful to stay alert and calm.  For the heavier men’s crews the possibility of taking on too much water and sinking is a distinct possibility so we’ll try to avoid that (although our crew isn’t that heavy).  The 2000m always requires a little luck so hopefully we’ll get some and have some good results to report.  The races are being held in the late afternoon/early evening so by the time we get back to the hotel and eat we may not be able to provide an update but we’ll try.  The results should be going up online through at http://www.dragonboat2009.com or http://idbfworldchamps.com/

Thanks for all the words of support; take care and wish us luck!

Plan A… and Plan B

Those who have eaten with me will know a few things about me. I am a vegetarian, and although I don’t consider myself a picky eater, I do like to eat healthy and I like to eat familiar foods before racing. The local pay-in-advance menu for athletes here in Prague included chicken liver dumplings, borscht, pork noodle with sauerkraut, and a few other regional specialties. Needless to say, I was keen to make my own food.

I have self-catered on most trips (paddling and pleasure traveling) and I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Graham and our team mates Erica and Leah were also keen to ‘eat in’ with us, so Erica packed a rice cooker from Canada, Graham packed a transformer from Canada so that it would work in Europe, I brought spices and other ingredients from home, and we went shopping the first day we got here.

After a late start due to some transportation difficulties en route to the grocery store, we were well on our way to Thai coconut rice with veggies. We ate this in Australia at World Championships 2 years ago and it was very popular.  Except that this time, the rice wouldn’t boil. I guess our transformer wasn’t stepping up/stepping down the way it was supposed to , so the rice stayed at 60 degrees Celsius for about 30min… until Graham suggested we use the pass-through converter.  We knew this was a bit of a gamble because the heating element in the Canadian rice cooker was designed for 110V not 220V… but we were hungry and had already waited a long time.  This rice boiled in about 4 minutes and then started to smoke a bit.  We opened the windows, then emptied the coconut rice and then tried to fry up some veggies – but the rice cooker would not turn on again.   It was thoroughly dead after one use, to our lasting disappointment.

The next afternoon we went to the store and bought a hot plate (with 220V-accomodating Euro-plug) and pot.  Last night we had rice and bean burritos, a meal some will remember from when I cooked it at the 5-star resort where Bridget had her wedding.  It was very successful, without any smoke or fire, so we are looking forward to having more meals on our mini-kitchen.

Leah took a picture of me cooking in our ill-fated rice cooker and also with the hot plate, so I’ll post them once we can wrangle them from her.

Safe and sound in Prague

Hi everyone,

We made it in to Prague yesterday right on schedule after a couple of uneventful flights.  I even got about 3 hours of sleep on the plane which was really good because it allowed me to stay up until 22:00 and thus get to sleep on time.

We did have a little adventure getting to the hotel as we decided to take the cheap public transit option.  While it was definitely cheap and efficient it really was quite something to haul three heavy suitcases, one small roller, two backpacks and the paddles on the crowded bus then two subway lines right in the middle of rush hour.  The look on some of the locals faces was priceless.  We’d have had the same looks if we saw a couple of people board the SkyTrain at Broadway station during rush hour with all their bags.  Jerks!

Once at the hotel we took the free shuttle bus over to the mega Tesco supermarket.  I’m sure the shuttle pays for itself many times over as there is a lot of big apartment blocks in the area and probably a lot of people don’t have cars so they wouldn’t be able to get to the big store.  The prices for most items was the same or less than at home with local produce being high quality and lower price than we’d expect to pay. Cabbage, Hungarian peppers, and small, sweet nectarines are our favourites.

Today we got up fairly early after both sleeping more than 8 hours and had a couple of team meetings.  Then we headed downtown with Erica, Leah, and Chris on the subway for a day of sightseeing and jet-lag erasing.  I actually don’t feel jetlagged at all, but I know that the travel will have had some effect on me – we’ll see on the water tomorrow.

The buildings in Prague we’re really amazing; I’m not really a student of architecture or art styles like Catherine but I was definitely impressed.  The narrow winding cobbled streets were quite interesting with pedestrians all over them.  You almost forget that cars drive on them until the odd one comes screaming down the street.  It’s crazy that anyone would try to drive in the old town, but the odd few do.

We crossed over the Charles Bridge and had a nice lunch on an outdoor patio overlooking the Vltava river.  Then we climbed the hill and went through the cathedral at the top.  Definitely the most impressive building inside that I’ve ever been inside.  We took a lot of pictures and we commented about how my Dad would have gone crazy with the picture taking.  Our feet were tired and as Catherine said we had “beautiful building fatigue” so we headed back to the hotel on the metro.

We’re going to cook up some Thai-style coconut rice and vegetables tonight and then maybe watch a movie.  Then we’re up early tomorrow for our first practices.  We’re both looking forward to getting down to the real order of business.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed us good wishes, we really appreciate it.   Take care and we’ll try to update again soon.

A few pictures from today:

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King Wenceslas on upside down horse

From Charles Bridge towards the castle
From Charles Bridge towards the castle
One of many huge stained glass windows in St. Vitus’ Cathedral, this one is by Alfons Mucha in Art Nouveau style (Catherine’s favourite)
One of many huge stained glass windows in St. Vitus’ Cathedral, this one is by Alfons Mucha in Art Nouveau style (Catherine’s favourite)
Back side of the Cathedral
Back side of the Cathedral
Overlooking the city from the castle side
Overlooking the city from the castle side