Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yvette's on her way!

At long last, Yvette is on her way to Montreal for the Girly Get-Away Weekend! Lynn will be leaving Toronto late this afternoon and staying at Anna's before all four of us head up to the Cottage tomorrow.

We've been planning this for so long it seemed like it would never get here. But now it's here and I am so ready for some catching up with best friends, lots of laughs and a day at the spa!

The let fun begin!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not what I was expecting to write

The day after the end of the dragon boat season and I am tired, sore, tired and sore. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

As I said in my previous post, there were 12 potential races for me. I ended up paddling in 11 of them. Five on Saturday and six on Sunday. It was a little much lot. I feel it. A lot.

Originally I had planned to write about each race, the teams, the atmosphere, how I felt about the eighth competition of the summer but now I have something far more interesting to write about. Instead I'm going to tell you about the day I stood up to a bully and gave him a piece of my mind (and a hand gesture to boot).

Yesterday's last race of the season was my mixed team's 2K. There were 13 sport teams racing. The way a 2K works is you get all the boats lined up at the docks and then at 10 second intervals, each one starts. The idea is to pass as many boats as possible and not to be passed by any boats. It's a little scary but really kind of exciting too. Passing so close to other boats that you actually paddle into each other, riding their wake, hearing everybody grunt and moan and scream. Anyway, we were 9th off the mark (therefore 5th overall ranking). We waited our turn for the horn and then started paddling. For the first turn or two no changes. Sometime after that we passed boat #8. Coming out of another turn we passed boat #7 but #8 was coming up behind us on the left and we had to move over to give them space to go into the turn. This we did. The referees even told our coach (& steer) that he was good. But even though we were on the outside, we were gaining on boat #8. Their steer started taking the turn wider and so pushing us out wider at the same time. This is an illegal move. You are not allowed to push boats off course with your own boat. But the boat was ahead of us and we couldn't do much to change that. Then boat #8 came up right beside us so that their last 3 rows of paddlers on the right and our first three paddlers on the left couldn't even get their paddles in the water because the boats were touching. No big deal, really. Everybody else keeps paddling and soon enough we should part. But not this time.

No, this time, some guy in the 10th row of boat #8 lifted his arm in the air and then swung his paddle like a baseball bat and deliberately hit two of our WOMEN in the arm. Not once. Twice. And he laughed while he was doing it! I think he may even have got a third swipe in but I'm not sure. The girls were shocked and shouting. I was paddling in row 4 and saw all this perfectly. Then, as boat #8 separated from us but still wouldn't let us go straight, that moron shouted "I'm going to scare those ladies!" I saw red. I'm not even sure if I paddled. What I do know is that I shouted back at him, "FUCK YOU!!!" (Sorry, Mom for the language.) It's possible I was heard on the other side of the world.

By now we were probably two full lanes off course and paddling in shallow water. Our coach was screaming at the refs, our drummer was shouting at us to get our focus back and to use our anger effectively. During that crazy ass turn, two boats from behind us managed to pass us. We were behind and we knew it. It took everything we had but we passed one boat in the next turn, and even stole the inside turn back from the Halifax boat at the last turn. We weren't able to beat a couple of the boats we wanted to though and that was disappointing. We also didn't make great time but whatever. Still not the end of the story.

Once over the finish line we did our quick cool down circle, we also went by both referee boats to make sure they saw what happened and they were aware. Everybody on our boat was talking about what happened with the guy hitting our paddlers. Some of the guys at the back of the boat hadn't been able to see what had happened. As we were coming up to paddle by the spectators, the Halifax crew came up to our left and that idiot started trash talking us. I wasn't paying attention. I was trying not to puke. All I know is that one minute I wanted to puke and the next I was standing up in the boat, paddle in one hand and flipping this guy the bird with my other hand. He turned around and called out to me, "oh yeah? come here!" And that was it. I lost it. I completely lost my head. I actually climbed up on the space between the paddlers in front of me so that I could ... I don't know ... get to the front of the boat and then jump from boat to boat to do what precisely? Other than knock his head off? Luckily more level heads prevailed and they quickly pulled me down to my seat. By the time we got back to the dock I was calmer and realised how foolish my reaction was. But my team loved me for it. They told me later it was what they were all thinking but I was the only was "brave" (stupid?) enough to act on it.

Finally off the boat, we told our story to the referees and race officials and in the end the Halifax crew got a 15 second penalty and we were awarded 5 seconds. The officials also spoke to the Halifax coach, steer and that paddler to warn them that this was not the type of sporting conduct that is tolerated in Montreal.

And there you go. This was big for me. This was one of the rare occasions that I actually got mad "out loud" and didn't let my anger fester and sicken me. Maybe it wasn't the most mature thing to do but you know what? I am probably never going to see that ass again so I'm glad I screamed at him and was ready to attack him. How dare he hit my team mates, how dare he hit women?! Complete strangers, at that. Who does he think he is? This isn't a contact sport! This isn't hockey or football or soccer. This is my third season of dragon boating and it's really the first time that any physical violence has reared it's ugly head. I've seen a lot of other stuff happen but nothing like this. And for a guy to threaten and strike a woman! That's beyond me. I can't even imagine ... I just don't understand what he can have been thinking. It still doesn't seem possible. I find it altogether shocking that he did that.

To end the day, we had a BBQ at the Basin with my old women's team (Montreal Waves). Burgers, veggie burgers for a few others as well as me, and cold beer. It was a pretty good end to the season after all.

OK but still - how could he have done that???

Friday, September 18, 2009

End of the Season

This is it - this weekend is Quebec Cup. It's the last dragon boat competition of the season. If you haven't been out to see us race this year, this will be your last chance. It's a smaller festival than in July but no less exciting.

I'll be paddling with my old women's team (Montreal Waves) and with my current mixed team (Montreal Mix) so it will be pretty busy - about one race every hour. I could potentially paddle 12 races over the weekend but hopefully it won't be quite that many. My main concern is getting through the 2k race on Sunday afternoon without puking at the end. I desperately hope I don't have to race the 2k with the women on Saturday afternoon. Not sure my body can take it two days in a row.

Funny how the last 5 months have flown by. It'll be over in a few short days and I already miss my team, the training, and the complaining ;)

Sunday, September 06, 2009