Race weekends are always memorable & loads of fun.
But this past weekend really might just be one that reserves a special spot in Space Dragon history ...
THANK YOU, RIPPLE EFFECT!
Any discussions of this weekend have to first start with all the love in the world & big-time THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to our beloved sister team, Ripple Effect!
Not only did you set up the perfect weekend game (Assassin!), feed us well (e.g., Spam Musubi!), serenade us (that was so freakin' awesome), shelter us & provide us seating, coordinate our lunch order, show us interesting use of band-aids (twin strip-off), and just greet us with warm smiles all weekend - but despite the exhausting tournament, you organized and blessed us with your great company throughout the weekend! We truly had a blast and we really appreciate all of you! Our now 1-year old sister team relationship continues to feel more and more perfect, and we look forward to seeing everyone at Long Beach if not earlier - Ski Trip?
We've trained hard all year and it continues to show as we continually step-up our games & put together great race pieces to represent ourselves well at every competition. Everyone should be incredibly proud of their performance on the water not only this weekend, but all year. We've come so far, our efforts are paying incredible dividends, and we continue to have so much room to improve. The ride has been great.
Our enthusiastic BLUE crew represented especially well in TI this weekend, bringing home FIRST PLACE GOLD Medals in the Rec B division to reward their ability to get continually stronger throughout the weekend!!! Those that watched from shore beamed with pride as you looked awesome out there - pulling incredible water throughout your pieces, great synchronization, and tight technical finishes. You really defined the meaning of the manta, "TAKE IT", as you rebounded from a 5th place finish in your initial seeding race to dominate with 1st place finishes in all 3 of your remaining races. You showed great poise to recover quickly from lost strokes due to a clipped flag (PP just wanted to challenge you a lil' bit) in the 1st race, and showed remarkable controlled aggression & determination to out-reach the very strong Ripple FU-FU-FU-Furious in the Finals - awesome 1-2 finish!! (click here for video courtesy of Ripple). It's tough & unfair to compare your performance against those in other divisions due to differing conditions - but be confident that you would have stacked up well. Great job, and congratulations, BLUE!
Coming off a great showing in Long Beach, the RED crew had big aspirations for TI. The first goal was to make it to the top Competitive A division for the first time in our history, and we were able to do it by out-pulling strong teams like Merrill Lynch BAD, SFL, & DPW1. 2nd place finishes behind eventual tournament champions and second place overall finishers Jetstart & Dragon Warriors 1 on Saturday is nothing to be ashamed of - be proud. With a spot in the top division secured, we had our eyes set on a great performance in our 3rd heat to crash the party @ the final race of the Day. The journey did not start well, as a late adjustment in Lane 2 at the start line allowed the strong winds to blow our left side flush against the starting buoy, dampening our start and causing us to play the uncomfortable role of catch-up to the pack. But hey - this is dragon boat, and this stuff happens. While we were not able to place in the top 3, be very proud of your grit, determination, and composure to steadily creep up on the field for a 4th place finish. In our final heat of the day in the Comp A consolation, we ran a clean, good set to beat out powerful teams Ripple Fast, UCLA, DW2, & Dragon Max. The Portland Fire Dragons were simply able to out-muscle us in the 2nd half of the race to win the 1st place & the hardware - props to them! Awesome performance, RED - our best in TI ever - and now lets plan on eclipsing this performance next year!
In our 6 years of existence, the Space Dragons have never experienced a capsize in practice or competition. We knew the time would eventually come, and our MEN got our first taste of it with a fun-filled, memorable Huli into the cold open waters of the SF bay as we approached the start line from behind the competitors waiting around the starting area. Long story short, we underestimated the strong Sat afternoon wind's ability to turn a stationary competitor into a fast backward-moving obstacle, as their dragon tail glided flush over our left side gunwale causing our left side paddlers to duck and shift weight to avoid releasing inevitable tail-walloping head butts & karate chops. And then the steady process (Rod had time to reach down and gather his slippers) of water seeping over our right side took its course. Great job to the crew for following instructions, not panicking, & for accounting for your bench mates (e.g., a wide-eyed Lil Lui abandoning his sister's carbon fiber to embrace Dominic like a separated lover, Kam hollering "WADE?, WADE??, WADE???" - love you, boy!). Thankfully, no injuries or casualties to report - other than Jim's lost glasses & bruises to Ceez's privates as he dragged himself back into the boat.
Once we bailed the boat and regained control, we ran a spirited and hooting&hollering 1-team race set back to the docks, even stopping to wave to the cheering and supportive spectators along the way. While we're confident that we would have done well in the actual race heat- prior to the race our men were amped and ready to qualify for Sunday's men's final (Kim appropriately termed the experience "a lot of foreplay with no .. 'action' ") - ultimately safety comes first & we're thankful everyone was fine, with a fond, hopefully one-time memory to boot. We got plenty of pictures coming - check back later!
Thankfully, our WOMEN didn't quite have as unique an experience in their heat on Saturday. The women bravely attacked the strong headwinds and had a thrilling tight battle with Diesel Fish throughout. While we didn't qualify for the Final on Sunday, thrilling competition is what we want and you should proud of your effort to fight through the conditions.
The Space Ripple MASTER crew took to the waters on Sunday - thank you, Ripples Erik, Marcus, Gary, Leslie, and Papa Wong for joining us! The team fought valiantly against a tough bracket and did us proud. We are confident in our Geri-crew and we will be pushing this crew even harder in 2009 - be ready!
And finally, just like last year, due to a Masters-Visiting Team race conflict, the YOUNGIN's once again took the water to participate and warm-up in a very tight and exciting visiting team race, where the entire field 1 through 6 finished within 2.5 seconds of each other. But more importantly - how did our youngin's stack up against our masters? Well, lets just say that last year's time-based loss was avenged :).
All in all, a great performance by the team. Not only did we keep our tradition of hardware at tournaments alive, but much more importantly we showed continued improvement, ability to battle through adversity, and everyone gave it their all - no one can ever ask for anything more. Great job and lets have these experiences fuel us for continued success & progression as ONE TEAM in 2009.
Off-the-water Fun & Feasting
Weekend Injury Report:
- Tran sliced open 2 fingers real deep on Sat while slicing a bagel. We now have a new non-audible hand to signal Tran.
- Ceez's banged-up gonads during pre-described Men's boat huli.
- Galen's ego for losing every single one of his Sunday night boat races.
- Jim's vision due to lost glasses during pre-described Men's boat huli. But at least he can still identify team members via touch.
- Anything else?
- the CDBA, tournament sponsors, and volunteers for making this memorable event happen. This race is a favorite for many of our paddlers - thank you for always doing such a good job organizing and executing!
- Coach Joe & other drivers for equipment transportation
- Ripple Fox Kristine for coordinating our Sat joint-team dinner & Sunday night fun!
- All the Ripple Drivers on Sunday night!
- Marty, Pearl, AJ, Paul, & John for steering in sometimes challenging conditions
- Tran, Janice, Sammi, Felicia for an awesome job calling - and Em for being a trooper on the Men's boat.