Silvermine Bay – May 21, 2017
Overcast and slightly chilly conditions (24C 😊) greeted the team as we met at the Nim Shue Wan pier for the short hop over to Mui Wo. Once again sharing a boat with a few other Discovery Bay teams, it was great to see the large number of people that now take part in Dragon Boating from Discovery Bay.
Making our way to the beach to the sounds of the organisers testing the sound equipment that would be later become the sound track for the day, we set up camp under the trees near the end of the beach. Looking out to sea, the wind was howling with sheets of rain occasionally drifting through and we all knew it was going to be challenging conditions out on the water.
The Open division was a made up of 15 teams of high quality and LBC Men found themselves lining up in the first heat of the day in Lane 2 alongside Buzz, the Navy and 2 other local teams. A strong wind and swell from the back right of the boat along with start line ropes that left a lot to be desired made getting settled at the start very difficult. This however is the nature of racing at Mui Wo and seconds later we were on our way down the short course finishing 4th in a time of 1:07:09. At least we managed to get away with the Navy having a rope malfunction at the start anchoring them on the spot while the rest of us raced away. The organisors did however allow them to place a time in rerun of their race, so not all was lost for them. Although posting a very consistent time of 1:07:22 in the second heat, with there only being only one final of 5 places, this was not enough and LBC finished a credible 9th of the 15 teams. A little frustrating as we felt we did not adapt well to the wooden paddles and left a lot out on the water that we could have harnessed to perhaps have pushed us further up the leaderboard.
The Women had an equally hard challenge ahead of them with the same set up as the Men, only one final and 5 spaces up for grabs out of a tough division of 11 teams. To make it more difficult, shorn of 6 of their usual paddlers and having to take in some new paddlers from other teams it was not going to be easy to compete with the other teams who had full compliments of regular paddlers. This was indeed the case and over the two heats, never really being able to get the boat going and ending up 10 out of 11 teams over the two legs and missing out on the final. Thanks to the Women though for still putting themselves out there and slugging it through the heats, even though I did not give them much of a chance by not supplying the correct squad for them to work with.
The Mixed Division was made up of 35 teams including all the usual suspects that we had raced against earlier in the season. Again, the conditions were paying havoc at the start and in the first heat we got so close to the Cukes as we came out of the blocks that we could almost touch each other but this lead to an exciting race with us ending up 4th in a respectable time. In the second heat we could not really get going and ended up in 5th place and waited during the long lunch break for whether we had made one of the four finals on offer. After a bit of soul searching and some good advice from senior members of the team, we lined up in the fourth tier final alongside German Dragons, Buzz, V Power and one other. Although we put in what was probably the most solid performance of the Mixed Team for the day, it was not enough and ended in last place to finish 20th out of 35 teams on the day.
Although the distance of this race has hardly ever been one that LBC has excelled at, there were a lot of frustrated team members on the beach as we packed up and headed to the seaside restaurants of Mui Wo to refuel in more ways than one. I do however see it as a huge positive that for members of this club putting in good performances, making top finals and competing for medals is the minimum we expect, with anything less being a disappointment. Luckily, we get an opportunity to try to banish any feelings of below par performances this weekend in the final races of the season for LBC in Discovery Bay this Sunday 28th May. Let’s do it LBC!!!!