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Feb 21, 2017

Unsung Heroes of Dragon Boat

Whether you're new or a vet, you may or may not have noticed that some paddlers have taken on an additional responsibility to paddling. We wouldn't be able to run any practices without them. Who could I be talking about? Your steerspeople of course! These are paddlers that have taken it upon themselves to learn how to steer, go through the certification process, and even give up paddling time to help the team run practices. Without them, we wouldn't be able to get anywhere!

Now you may be thinking that you're focusing on paddling, so you don't want to steer, but it's a good skill to have as a paddler! Not only are you helping out the team, you're learning more about the sport in general and are able to see practices from a new perspective. You're also getting a chance to help bring up our team since we'll be able to cycle through our steers and give them some much needed paddle time as well. As a family, we all want what's best for each other, and opening up more opportunities for everyone to paddle is a great way to achieve that!

Over the past couple of seasons, we've seen certain people steering every single practice, and it's a big sacrifice for them to come out to paddle and be forced to steer since no one else is certified. We have a fairly large team, and it's important that we don't let the same people give up their paddle time over and over again. That being said, we're trying our best to make sure that one person doesn't steer the entire practice (unless it's due to an injury and they offer).

So whether you're new to the sport, or have been paddling for years, let's try to spread the responsibility of steering so it doesn't fall onto the same 2-3 sets of shoulders, and bring everyone up together as a family!

Feb 6, 2017

Space Dragons 2017 Red/Blue/White Selection Criteria

Below is the 2017 Red/Blue/White Selection Criteria.  It's very similar to years past, but please review it and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

How do the coaches determine who paddles on which boat? It's no black magic. The coaches make the decisions balancing what we believe is best for each individual as well as what we believe is best for Space Dragons as a whole.  The tricky part is that not everyone agrees on where that balance lies and what is "best for Space Dragons," not even all the coaches.  It is impossible to make everyone happy, but with seven coaches bringing different perspectives, we hope to get as close as possible.  The following set of criteria is used in the decision making process:

1. Practice Attendance - Quantity and Quality

Coming to practice makes you a better paddler. Only at practice do you get the opportunity to sit in a dragon boat and get coaching on your technique.  You work on starts, finishes, pacing, timing, blending, paddling-specific conditioning. How do you become a more effective paddler? Paddle more! BUT, just showing up isn't enough. In order to become a better paddler, you need to take advantage of the time on the boat by staying focused and determined, and by seeing every single stroke as an opportunity to make our team better.

2. OC-2 Water Testing

The OC-2 time trials are the easiest way for both you and the coaches to measure your individual contribution in getting the dragon boat past the finish line. Even in a dragon boat race, each paddler pulls some dead weight (the weight of the boat, plus the caller and steersperson). Similarly, in an OC-2 each paddler pulls the boat weight plus a coach who is steering. Water testing isn't everything - it doesn't show how well your technique blends with the rest of the paddlers, and it doesn't show how good your timing is, both of which are essential to being a good dragon boat paddler. What it does show is your fitness level, strength and how effectively you connect with the water to propel a boat forward.  How do we use this data?  Refer to the FAQ.  If you cannot make it to either the primary or make-up test dates with an excuse cleared with the coaches, your previous test time from the same season can be used.  People tend to get faster as the season goes on, so it's in your best interest to test before every tournament.  OC-2 testing is required to be considered for Red and strongly encouraged for Open.

3. Land Drill / Core Workout Attendance - Quantity and Quality
Dragon boat races are athletic competitions, so physical fitness and strength play an important role in how quickly we cross the finish line. Participating in the land drills and core workouts designed by Devant helps build that foundation. Again, just showing up isn't enough. You need to push yourself in order to make yourself (and the team) stronger.  The work you put in here will be visible in the quality of your practices (stay stronger for longer) as well as your OC-2 time trial.

4. Coaches Discretion

There are many unquantifiable qualities that make a good dragon boat paddler, things like timing, experience, technique, focus and a team-oriented, positive attitude. These are some of the things that the coaches watch out for when we stand at the bow during practice. A boat of the twenty "strongest" paddlers is not our fastest crew if they can't work together and motivate each other.  If any one of these traits is missing, that can be a deal breaker!  So be sure to pay attention to these unquantifiable details when working toward being a better paddler.

As always, if you have any questions about the selection criteria, any of the decisions that are made, or what you personally can do to make yourself a better paddler, don't hesitate to ask! We want each and every one of you to finish off this season with NO REGRETS!

Jan 27, 2017

Rain Protocol

Just a reminder that our rain protocol is to check the blog and Spacebook for practice cancelation notifications.  If there is no notice canceling practice by 11pm the night before, then practice is on!

On that note and as a matter of public health safety, practice for tomorrow (January 28th, 2017) is cancelled due to beach closures resulting from a number of recent sewage spills. There is a significant risk to health in having contact with the water and so it should be avoided until further notice. Officials will wait for the results of a second test from Wednesday before they decide to reopen beaches, so stay tuned for a Sunday practice update!

For more information, you can check the CONSUMER PROTECTION PROGRAM RECREATIONAL WATER MONITORING page here.

Until then, enjoy your time off the water with a snooze, a hearty dim sum breakfast, or sweat it out with a solid gym session (or all-of-the-above!). However you decide to spend your time make sure it's well spent with some important suggestions--pass along some best wishes, enjoy your family time, and have a happy, safe Lunar New Year!

Jan 20, 2017

Starting up 2017! (Part 2)

Goals and  Training

With the season really starting to ramp up, now is a good time to start thinking about your goals for the year. Having one or more goals helps give a little more purpose to each practice, and also creates a positive mindset throughout the year. Creating goals and meeting them is always rewarding, and our job as a coaching staff is to help you achieve those goals.

Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, outdoor and natureAs you think of your goals for the year, remember that we're not only here to help you with your paddling goals. Space has always been a supportive family and we will do everything we can to help you with your non paddling goals as well, whether it's training for spartan races, triathlons, or even just living a healthier lifestyle. Remember, working towards your goal is always easier with a support group, and Space is just about one of the best support groups out there. Don't be afraid to talk to us about what you want to achieve, and we'll do our best to help you get there!

As for paddling, there will always be so many different goals that individuals can focus on, whether it's getting a smoother/faster time trial, improving technique, or even just being able to get through practice a little better than the last time. For us coaches, one of our goals is to always promote healthy improvement, not just at an individual level, but especially at a team level. So even as we focus on our own individual training and goals, it's important to remember that we do this as a team. We strive to have that "team first" mentality because that's what helps us strive and push ourselves to our goals. That team perspective is what makes Space such an amazing team. Everyone does what they can to help out. We're lucky to be in an environment that is so supportive and everyone wants the best for everyone. Sure there can be some friendly competition and individual training, but at the end of the day it's all about how we can bring each other up as a team. So just remember, whatever boat you paddle on, the important part is that we're part of the same team. Boat color is irrelevant because we're all one family.

Always going hand in hand with creating goals is, of course, training for them! Once you've come up with your own goals, sometimes it's hard to think about how to proceed from there. However, that's exactly why having this huge support group of Space Dragons comes in handy. There are so many different people on the team that are willing to help you reach or even exceed your goals!

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and waterOur practices always have a specific purpose to help you train for races, but we also have resources to help you off the water as well! This includes the land/core training after practices, and soon to be starting up SDWW's! Working out together makes training a lot more enjoyable, so don't be afraid to ask if anyone wants to train with you. Like I said before, it's a big part of who we are as a family. Starting up working out might seem pretty daunting, especially if you try it alone. The team is spread out in so many areas, that there's bound to be someone in your area that will work out with you!

Time Trials
As many of you know, time trials are a great way to measure yourself throughout the year, and a good way to learn more about yourself and how you paddle. It's also part of how we get you prepared for race day, but more on that later.

For those of you that have been asking and waiting for it, here are the current dates for the time trials! Once our mid and end of year races are determined, we'll come out with the dates for those time trials.

Tempe: February 26
Baby LB: April 2
Mid Year: TBD
Big LB: July 2
End of Year: TBD

The first race of the year is coming up quick, which means the first time trial is coming up even quicker! So remember to start thinking about your goals and how you want to change throughout the season!

Jan 13, 2017

Starting up 2017! (Part 1)

Welcome to the 2017 Season!
The 2017 season has officially begun this past weekend! I hope you all had a restful off season because we’re going to start off this season strong. We’re starting up our post practice land workouts on Saturdays and Sundays so don’t forget to bring your water and yoga mats! Special boat is scheduled to start up once again in March.
Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports, tree, grass, sky, shoes, child, outdoor and nature

2017 Racing Schedule
We are currently planning to go to six tournaments this year, and the schedule will be posted below. Our mid year race hasn’t been finalized yet, but it’s been narrowed down to two options. Same with our last race of the year, so stay tuned!  

Where: Tempe, Arizona
When: March 25-26
With the exception of last year, Tempe has been our season opening race for the last 10 years. The weather is usually warm and dry, and we'll be able to race teams from all along the West Coast! It's a fun tournament featuring Mixed, Open, Women's, and Masters division races. Now that Tempe has been moved back to its original schedule, we're looking forward to having it as our first race of the year again.
Bonus: Rebel BBQ (delicious food stop halfway to Tempe)

Where: Long Beach, California
When: April 23
Also known as "Baby Long Beach", this is a local race open to the year-round teams as well as college teams around California. It's a one-day tournament at Marine Stadium featuring Mixed races only, but also has a 200m knockout tournament in the afternoon. It's a great race for newbies and vets alike, as the race is low commitment because it's here at home and only one day!

Mid-Year Race, more to come, but possible options are: 
Nevada International Dragon Boat Festival (May 20-21 in Las Vegas, Nevada)
Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival (June 23-25 in Vancouver, Canada)

Where: Long Beach, California
When: July 29-30
This is our big local race where teams fly in from around the country (plus usually one or two teams from China).  It's a big two day tournament with lots of divisions, including High School and Corporate.  For any vets looking on to help spread the joy of paddling, there are always opportunities to help coach and/or steer for these "festival teams" leading up to the tournament (inquire with the captains & coaches).  There are vendor booths and a performance stage, and (usually) beautiful beach weather!

Where: Busan, Korea
When: TBD
For our big travel race for the year, we're looking to go to Korea! This will be a first time for Space Dragons as we go to Korea to compete internationally. We'll be testing out new waters here, so it should definitely be an exciting experience.

End of Year Race, potential options:
Northern California International Dragon Boat Festival (September 23-24 in Lake Merritt, Oakland)
San Diego International Dragon Boat Race (September 30 - October 1 in San Diego, California)

With these six races, it should be a fun and full season! Coming up next, goals and training

Jul 13, 2016

Personal Goals for Growth

First off, great job on time trials everyone! It was a great turnout with so many newbies coming out and giving it a shot! (15+ I think). I'm really proud of all the effort that everyone has put in and how you decided to take the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and take a shot at the time trials.

As always, time trials are a great way to put yourself to the test and give yourself a personal benchmark to see where you stand as a paddler. However, on that note, I'd like to also give a little reminder (to our vets as well as our newer paddlers), that time trial results should be taken with a grain of salt. While we do use the results as a metric for seating boats for races, it's not the only thing taken into account. And for those of you that are new, or just need another reminder, you can find those various metrics here!

Another reminder is that times are not the only way to improve in time trials. Sometimes, as Devant and I are taking you down to the start line, we might ask what your goals are. Answers vary, but in general they end up being "be faster" or "be better". There's nothing wrong with these goals, but it's important to focus on the different parts of "be faster" or "be better" that will help you achieve them. Everyone will end up having different goals since each paddler is different, so take the opportunity to focus on individual improvement, whether the goal is to have a smoother run, maintaining your technique, having more control over your body, or even just getting the catch for more of your strokes. Having a more specific goal will help give a better guideline to personal improvement rather than the vague "get faster" goal. Even though they're individual goals, each step closer contributes to the team effort.

With one more time trial left in the year, there's still one more chance to test yourself, so get out there and work towards those goals!

You can find your pre-Big LB times here!

Jun 7, 2016

Paddling as a Way of Life

Two months have passed since our Adelaide adventure, where we competed in the 10th Club Crew World Championships.  So what's been happening since, and what happens next??

First, it's important to CELEBRATE.  Competing in Club Crew Worlds was a huge effort.  The training, logistics and support from so many people is what made it a success, and it's an accomplishment to be proud of.  We faced so many challenges in our journey.  Each time we pulled through, growing stronger and stronger as a club.  During and in the weeks after Adelaide, we shared stories, laughed at the wacky videos and cherished the memories of the "good ol' days."  (But it doesn't have to stop there!  Today is the good ol' days, and we should continue to celebrate it!)

Second, it's important to BREATHE.  An endeavor such as a world championship takes a lot of both physical and mental energy to prepare for.  It's important to recognize the sacrifices you've made and address all the little things (errands, brunch dates with family and friends, basketball games) that you've told yourself you'll take care of "after Adelaide" (for me, that was finding an apartment!).  Hopefully everyone's had a chance these last two months to unwind and take care of all those things we had been putting off.

Third, it's important to GIVE BACK and GROW.  After all the blood, sweat and tears (from both paddlers and supporters alike), we don't want to just take the experience and run for the hills.  It's time to give back and grow as a team and as individuals.  This can manifest itself in many ways, from sharing experiences to simply setting an example by being a "model Space Dragon."  We all experienced this adventure in different ways - as a competitor, as a supporter, as the at-home-cheering-section.  All are valuable experiences that enrich this team and add to the copper pot.  Becoming a better team doesn't always have to involve extreme personal sacrifices to hit your next PR.  It also means developing our bench and learning from past experience, so when it comes time to press hard for the next competitive goal, we are ready.

What I've just described is Paddling as a Way of Life.  It's maintaining our fitness and athleticism while still having balance.  It's working hard to reach a goal, then teaching the new blood how it's done.  It's recognizing the importance of the connections and the people in our lives, remembering why we love this sport and love this team.  And when the time is right, we will again put the pedal to the metal and see what we can accomplish together.

We have two more opportunities to race in the 2016 season - Big Long Beach and Portland.  Portland is uncharted territory for Space Dragons, where we will have the opportunity to face teams we've never raced before.  Big Long Beach is expecting some fresh competition from the East Coast, bringing USA National Team paddlers right into our backyard.  We all know that greatness doesn't happen overnight - it takes several months of training and consistency.  What do you want to do with the rest of the season?  Master the technique?  Build up cardio and conditioning?  Strength train?  Mentor the next group of up and coming paddlers? (but remember to leave the coaching to the coaches!)  Only 3.5 months left to make a difference!