Sunday, July 25, 2004

Like Forgetting Sunscreen in Seventy Degree Weather

Which is exactly what I did yesterday at the Chinatown Dragon Boat Races.  Now I'm basting my face and neck in medicated aloe vera gel and waiting for the major peel.  It's the German and Englishman in me that burns easily, but then the Greek says, "no no" and ensures that I have a healthy tan for the rest of summer.

For the uninitiated the Dragon Boat Races are a series of sprints in oversized canoes paddled by a crew of eighteen, with a drummer keeping time on a small taiko drum and a flagger balancing on the bow of the canoe- which just happens to be a dragon's head, to capture a floating flag.  Beginning from a cold start in the water between the Canal Street Bridge and the Amtrak bridge, teams race a quarter-mile to their flags in front of the pagoda at Ping Tom Memorial Park.  It requires a lot of teamwork, flawless technique, synchronicity, and endurance as this is basically a sprint across water.  Eighteen teams participated in two qualifying heats.  The eight teams with the fastest split times advanced to the quarterfinal elimination stages.  While I wanted to actually win a race I was more concerned with advancing.  Our second heat helped us do just that as we shaved eleven seconds off our first heat time. 

But it wasn't meant to be in the quarterfinals.  We were smoked by a crew of alumni from the University of ayton, who had a wake from their boat so big that at one point the starboard gunwale of our boat was in the water and capsizing was a legitimate fear.  I didn't really want to lose to them, either, as they were shouting out lame junior high spirit squad chants and wearing floral print shorts only seen in fraternity initiations.  Still, the races went way better than I expected.  Our ragamuffin band of miscasts placed fifth overall, which isn't bad considering that most of us didn't meet until that morning and half the team was comprised of tiny Filipino medical students.  Or maybe it's because they came from an island nation that we were so successful.  Either way, our teamwork was solid and we really got that boat skimming above the water at times.  I so want to do it again next year.


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