This Veteran’s Day weekend the UC San Diego Dragon Boat Team drove a lengthy 8 hours to San Francisco to compete in the CDBA College Cup Regatta.
This particular race is a HUGE one for our team, in part because it’s such a time investment in travel, in part because it’s the race that most of our alumni attend, but largely because it’s the first major race that our new recruits experience. Since SDDBT’s San Diego Race came earlier than usual (and we volunteered, as per usual), recruitment got pushed back; by the time we had all of our new members in, we only had 5 solid weeks to train (which is really something, considering how paddling is not intuitive at all!). Not to be discouraged, we pushed our bodies to their limits and did our best.
We showed up at Lake Merced before daybreak, at 6AM, shuffling around to get our area set up and to stay warm. Already the ground was crowded with other competing teams; excitement charged the air. After warming up we went in for our volunteer shift, helping to take the boats into the green, murky water (a process that took longer than expected, same old same old).
Then came the Genders races: starting off, Women’s. To be honest, it wasn’t our best race: Vets were too focused on keeping their energy controlled and collected, and in the process forgot to pass along the intensity to the new recruits. That’s fine. It was the first race of the day. All that matters is that we grow and get better.
And so we got better. We picked up our game, got vocal, and gained in energy and intensity with each heat.
Now I must admit, we didn’t do as well as we had hoped. At the end of the day, races are a reflection of conditioning, and our main competitors—UCLA, Cal, UCI—had more on us. Both our boats, new and veteran, ended up getting 4th in their respective divisions, A and C. Of course it was disappointing, especially to the vets, who only to make the alumni (so many of whom showed up and fed us!) proud. But that’s not to say it was a total loss: we gave it everything we had, and we gained a new fire to train even harder. So, although we didn’t bring home a trophy, we brought back a passion to do better for each other.