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Aug 17, 2011

Big Long Beach '11 -- "We Got Ourselves a Game!"

Here’s the thing about this recap. There’s clearly too much to say. Though at the same time, Spacebook’s already covered a lot and nothing I say can change the incredibly amazing weekend we had. So, pressure off, here’s my recap:

The end.

Just kidding, there’s more! And of course we’re graceful winners. And it’s not about winning. Oh, wait, it’s a competitive sport… It’s not JUST about winning. Fortunately, it’s also not about new jerseys that weren’t ready in time. But it is about showing up.

We showed up bright and early Saturday morning, ready to greet and feed our sister team Ripple Effect and our new friend team Bulldogs. In the shade of our seven boats’ worth of tent, we set up our sandy gallery of chairs and passed around tattoos, mustaches, and smurf hats. Like you do.

Saturday races kicked off with the OPEN heats. In a classic Long Beach “Oh, [shoot]!” start, the buzzer half sounded the men into action, signaling the start of our fantastic weekend. Even still, our OPEN boat (The one that just happened to only have male paddlers (unless Brian knows something we don’t…?)) finished 2nd, positioning themselves squarely and directly into the finals heats.

Results like these don't happen on accident as our fierce SD ladies raced soon after, with a luxuriously audible start. Having pulled in a strong respectful 1st place "DUB," the SD LADIES boat had just like that (I swear its not as simple as I'm stating it now), landed automatic pushes into the finals race (but more on this later!).

Like all great moments in life and in sport, they are born of great opportunity. And with fresh momentum at their backs from Baby LB and Alcan--like a freight train barreling down the track, SD boats RED, BLUE, and WHITE were poised as one team ready to seize upon it.

SD RED took the stage guns blazing (see Rod's arms, or Em's triceps for a literal definition) as they commanded themselves as contenders in Sunday's div. 1A finals races. As coach BK eloquently stated in Baby LB, "we didn't decide to just show up and paddle division 1, we didn't do that. EARN IT!" From then on, SD BLUE (SMURFS) didn't look back either as they barreled in a head-to-head for division 1(B). To have both boats move into division 1 shows great strength in our depth as a team. Its the result of our combined and continued efforts to push each other on land, the water, and Spacebook in order to make ourselves better for each other. Be proud Space Dragons, you did that!

With hardly enough time to eat, shower, and sleep a few hours, the Space Dragons were back on the beach Sunday morning, ready to finish stronger than they started.

Men. Or is it OPEN? Emily help me out here!
Our masculine OPEN paddlers, traditionally shirtless, placed 3rd in the OPEN A final. There are rumors that Pearl’s shirt weighed them down, but I don’t want to get involved.

On a similar note, complete with our shiny tutu clad bench ornament (or otherwise a type of motivation), Devant called the SD LADIES in a tight finish just 0.66 seconds behind LARD. Such a race can't be recapped with justice as they stepped off that boat leaving everything out there (I know I did)!
Led by Papa Smurf Ceez, our feisty, awe-inspiring MASTERS moved on to place 2nd in the finals, a mere 0.32 seconds behind DW BAD.

WHITE celebrated their newbie spirit they stepped off of every heat after having put in everything they had while managing to come in 6th in the Division IIIB finals. They are all heart and grit!

The BLUE Smurfs finished out their bold adventure in a  head-to-head against stout teams  as Galileo Celestial Dragons, Cal (Bears), and Dieselfish. They rocked to the finish complete with smurf hats in Division 1 and placed 6th in the IB final. GO SMURFS!!

Red swallowed their nerves and stayed focused, running around the parking lot to stay warm pre-finals. At the risk of misquoting, I remember Coach Brian essentially saying, 
“This is our chance to finally take Big Long Beach. I might get choked up…”
And so the legend goes that Red tiked rass. Not just sum rass, but a great deal of rass.

Want one? EARN IT!
We gathered as one team to await the final results. Coach Emily started talking but I don’t think she got very far. I don’t even remember anyone announcing anything, I just remember a sudden group shouting and hugging. Official! GOLD! The sky opened up and showered us with a surreal victory drizzle. We returned to our victory tent to eat some victory sandwiches and get ready for the 200m races. How did we do? I think you know, but if you want it stated here...Big Long Beach? Yeah, we took that.
One of these smurfs is unlike the rest.
Favorite story from the weekend? Blue paddling quickly to our tent on the way to the 200m start line, in a pre-race scramble to get Papa Smurf Ceez a PFD. The smurf boat, hats and all, yelled out to Ripple. Ripple was apparently too busy plotting to dunk coach Aaron, but eventually noticed the boat yelling “Vest! Vest! We need a vest!” to which they naturally replied “Yeah!! You’re the best!” Jill finally caught on to the crazy charades and managed to fling a PFD at the boat, saving Papa Smurf…who then went on to drop his paddle just past the finish line, forcing the boat to back paddle to retrieve it.

And of course the weekend was topped off with a hot awards ceremony, our circle of medaling, team photos, and chaotic dunking. Somehow even though Pearl managed to stay away there were a few too many injuries. And the dunked soon became the un-dunked, crawling out from the water to feed on the dry.
And so, with much celebration to come, I think I can safely say we walked off the beach feeling proud to have poured our hearts out on the water and given everything we’ve been practicing and training for. Now that we’ve shown what we can do, it’s time to prove that we’re going to keep doing it. This is a milestone on our way to fiercer competition and pushing ourselves more, always building. We don’t slow down, we don’t gain a complex. We gain hunger and incentive. We practice and train, keeping our hearts full of team love and passion for our sport. Time to wrap up an amazing 10th anniversary season with a steel bow of aggression and grace. See you at Treasure Island!


Pearl for excellent tourney managing--logistics, set-up, waivers, she does it all!
Team mom, DENISE for helping with food, hauling equipment, and just being plain AWESOME!

Dr. Chen, the association, & all the volunteers! 
All the helping hands who helped with site set-up and break down
Kmak, T. Loeser, DJ Bakasan, and all other paparazzi pirates with stalker lenses and providing media coverage!
Pimpin' still ain't easy, and neither is steering! SPECIAL THANKS to Emily, Brian, AJ, Pearl, and VOLUNTEER Jason for keeping it tight and right!:
Lil (David) Lui, Arlene, Esmer, Kat "Dub", Robert, and Deej for boat CAPTAINING!
Still think pimpin' is easy? Try calling! Special THANKS to Jackie, Tran, Emily, Devant and Sammi for baller shot CALLING!
SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to first time BLB Space NEWBIES: Ping, e-Claire, Jim, Eric, Humprey, Christine, Jay-Z, Vanessa, DJ "James" Bakasan, Lesley, and Emilio! Holla for more (see TI, recap coming soon to a blog near you)!!

SPECIAL THANKS to Michelle from Dragonauts for guest paddling with us on WHITE!!
...and always most importantly, YOU! know.
Finally, let me leave you with this quoted echo of thought as we go into our last races in TI. 

"The other guy may in fact be the favorite, the odds maybe stacked against you, fair enough. But what the odds don't know is this isn't a math test. This is a completely different kind of test. One where PASSION has a funny way of trumping logic. So before you step up to the starting line, before the whistle blows, and the clock starts ticking. Just remember out here the results don't always add up. No matter what [they] say, when the race is on, all bets are OFF. And then suddenly, as the old saying goes...'we've got ourselves a game'" <<<<(HINT HINT: BAKASAN'S BLB VIDEO RECAP HERE!!)