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.