mardi 7 juin 2011

Dragon boat races in Stanley

At last, a 3 day-week-end where I don't get to work at all!

But half of it was eventually dedicated to the dragon boat. Was this a bad news? Hell no! On Saturday morning, we got our last training session. Stanley beach was surprisingly quiet. Only a few teams were there training one last time before the big day. Quite a change from the previous weeks when the beach was crowded with paddlers. (Then on Monday, I learnt the real meaning on “Stanley beach being crowded” – a  picture is worth a thousand words).

Last advices, last check up. I think we’re ready. At least we’re all very excited about it.

Sunday was tagged “official rest day” for me: otherwise, how could I have managed to wake up at 5:15 am to take the first tube to Admiralty station, were a bus was expecting the men’s team at 6:30am? I still wonder. (I’m also puzzled and wonder why on earth would so many people awake at these wee hours on holidays in Hong-Kong, - streets were not empty, quite the contrary- and the underground already full at 6am… but that’s another story)
When I think back, I realize the craziness of it. Being in front of the office, at 6:30 am on a holiday?!! It’s more than 2hours hours earlier than a normal business day. Ppfff… madness… At 6:30 sharp, the bus was gone. Public buses were packed as well. I was glad that our teams got their own buses. We got to Stanley pretty fast, and enjoyed the quietness of the place while we could.

All the teams were setting up their tents all around the beach and in the nearby streets. Our spot was incredibly good, although we could have done with another tent.

On the beach, the dragon boats were ready, all “dressed up” with dragon heads, and tails. It was only 7am and the sun was already so strong I could barely stand it. And I knew it would only get worse.

Planning of the day:
Women’s team: races at 8:40am, 11:40am and 2:20pm
2 Men’s team: races at 8 and 8:20am, then depending on the results, they would go for one race or another. (but they made it to the top!!!)

Let’s talk a bit about our women’s team: SG Angels.
I was told we were the only women’s official team from a bank. What a thrill.
For most of us, it was our first dragon boat race. Lorene was our lovely captain. Paddling during the first training sessions, she changed her mind and become our drummer (I suppose much easier for her to see us, provide advice, and occasionally yell at us :) for our own good…). Well organized, thanks to her, we got a clear planning, indicating where one would sit, what the “strategy” would be, etc. In the end, we all managed to race at least twice or all the three races for some of us. The best part was: we all had a lot of fun!

Our outfit was a red tee-shirt featuring Societe Generale name and logo, as well as a giant dragon at the back. But the fun part was the face painting we got. I admit I wasn’t really fond of the idea when I first heard of it, but as it turned out, it was just brilliant! As we were told, girls face painting was really nice, and it was a shame it got washed away after the first race. We also got a halo above our heads, to enhance our angel side. And Lorene opted for big red wings on her back. (or was this the reason to be the team’s drummer?!). Anyways, it looked pretty cool, and my a priori vanished.

On the guys’ side, the SG Devils and SG Diables (who’s thinking we ran out of ideas?) got ugly evil faces. HAhahahahhahahaa. Well, black and red faces, that matched their name, outfit (and SG logo incidentally). And the drummers (girls) were pretty cute with devil faces !

Men’s team did very well on their first races: #3 and #4, meaning qualification for the next race.

On the lady’s side, we could not have done worse, since we arrived last. (#8 out of 8 participants). But still, we remained happy and highly confident for the next races. And somehow, I had the feeling that we did good. Anyways, we could only improve. Luckily, snacks were provided and while I enjoyed a banana and a cereal bar, I explored a bit Stanley, looking for a quiet spot with shade, to rest a bit. At 9am, it was still possible to find such place. It would be much harder later on in the day.

The beach was already full with teams, supporters, families. Some teams had really funny costumes. It was like being in an amusement park.

Then came the second race for the men. Women were there, supporting them as much as we could. Surely that’s what helped them to qualify for the finals: the Golden cup. The power of Angels, for sure ! :)

And of course, they were there too when we embarked and disembarked, greeting us by splashing water all over. Well done, we arrived #6. The team is going stronger. Incredible team spirit.

Very welcome lunch break. Some took this opportunity to enjoy the junk boat provided by Soc Gen. One of the many junk boats placed around the starting blocks. Weather got hotter, if that was even possible. It felt like 100 degrees. Then eventually came the last race for the ladies. After waiting almost 20minutes in the starting blocks, under the sun, waiting for some of celebration to end on the beach, last but not least: our final race. We gave all we could in these 250meters. Deep and strong, fast, then strong and long. All the power we had left was given away in the final race. And that was it. It all went so fast. We were done. We made up rank #6.

Men were competing race 48, at almost 4pm. Both SG men’s teams were racing. What a performance! Ranked #8 and #10 for the last one, they really made all of us proud of our dragon boat teams.

Even our coach showed up for the final greeting: and he was well thanked for all his efforts of the past 4 months.

For sure that was a hell of a day.

Rendez-vous sur Hellocoton !

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