The 2011 season is off to a roaring start as Living Root hit the water paddling in the 6-mile Run of the Charles race for the second year in a row (we like to do everything in a row). LR assembled two stellar crews containing paddlers both new and experienced, young and, um, well preserved. It was a great day to be out on the water. The sun was out from time to time, and it was the perfect temperature for paddling.
After loading up our two boats, “Mall Run” and “Swift Pleasure” we wove our way through the hordes of kayakers and canoeists toward the start line. We got off to a very clean start with Mall Run hitting hard and taking a quick lead. Swift Pleasure, living up to her name, soon closed the gap and took and held the lead. Drummers on both boats did a fine job of keeping their crews motivated and working efficiently. The first turn down by the BU bridge put both steerers to the test. Putting a dragon boat into a 180 degree turn at full speed is never easy. Aided by a few key paddlers as well as a hefty pull on the steering oar, both boats managed to make it through unscathed and without losing much speed.
The upriver leg of the race was tricky. We faced the same horde of kayakers and canoeists, but now they were bearing down on us like a wild, disordered mob. Weaving in and out of oncoming boats was pretty harrowing work, but we made it through the maelstrom alive. The drummers on both boats pushed the teams through a series of power sets to help keep the timing tight and the power alive. The last turn, a bit past Artesani Park, was the toughest. We had to sneak past the buoy without crashing into the race officials anchored nearby. Add in a few flatwater paddlers alongside and it all made for a pretty tight turn, but we made it through with a minimum amount of cursing.
Both boats powered up for the finish. The crowds ashore were cheering loudly as we pounded through the finish line. Mall Run came through a few seconds ahead of Swift Pleasure. Everyone involved did an outstanding job paddling for well over an hour with only one break for a few seconds. Those 2,000 meter races sound like cake after having just completed 9,656. Official times are not yet available, but both boats completed the course in just over an hour.
I’d like to thank several people who made it all possible. First, I’d like to thank Karla, Evan, and Phoebe, who helped us launch the boats in the morning, and Bryan, Chris, Karla and Evan, who helped us haul them downriver to Spaulding in the afternoon. I promise that there will be beer involved next year. A big thanks goes out to Teresa for organizing rides from Spaulding and for ensuring that everyone had all the gear they needed for racing. Thanks goes out to Chris who steered for Swift Pleasure. Special recognition is bestowed upon Frank, who ran the length of the race course cheering for both boats.
See you at practice!