Journey To the World Championships

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Story by One West member, Anthony Cao.

“In the last week of August, my team and I began the last leg of a journey that we started one year ago. Winning the 2013 Canadian National Championships meant we secured one of the top five spots to represent Canada at the 2014 International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships (CCWC). This year, it was hosted in Ravenna, Italy. This would also be my first time ever in a country other than Canada and USA.

I first flew out to Venice with a couple of my teammates on August 28th/29th. We had planned to stay a night so that we could take in some of the European sights before boarding a regional train to head down to Ravenna. Arriving a few days before the races began allowed us to adjust ourselves to the time difference, and gave us an opportunity to practice on the racecourse, hone our race plan, and to get a feel for the water conditions.

On the evening of September 2nd, the opening ceremonies, we got a glimpse at who we would be up against. Some of the best dragon boat teams from around the world were gathered together at this event. Despite knowing that the next day we would race against each other as if our lives depended on it, we cheered, laughed, and conversed with one another. This is the spirit of dragon boat racing and exemplifies what I love about this sport.

Teams can enter under different age divisions (Under 18, Under 24, Premier, Masters (i.e. over 40), Grand Masters (i.e. over 50), etc.), gender (Mixed (i.e. co­ed), Open (i.e.men’s), and Women’s), and boat size (standard, i.e. 20­person, or small i.e.10­person). One West entered in the standard boat Premier Mixed and Premier Open divisions, and the small boat Premier Women’s division.

The first day was filled with nerves and adrenaline­ driven excitement. The week started with 2000m races, unfortunately, the wind picked up and a rule was set where all the teams could only race 16 paddlers for safety reasons, instead of the usual 20. We raced our best despite the unforeseen changes. Both our Mixed and Open boats came in 6th overall, which was still a decent result considering it was out of 22 of the best teams from around the world. We fared better for the second and third day, the 200m races, with our Mixed and Women’s boats both coming in first overall in the 200m races, and our Open boat coming in 4th by 0.345 of a second. The last 2 days were the 500m races, with our Mixed and Women’s boats taking silver. Both were behind the All Sports Team Hannover from Germany, who were one of the top competitors this year. Our Open boat geared up for the 200m final, which was also the last race of the competition, and placed 5th.

Results

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After a night of partying to conclude the week of racing, I was off to Venice for a little more sightseeing and to catch a flight home. All in all, this was one experience I will never forget. The blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices poured into this team by everyone, was more than worth it in the end.”

As an amateur sport, One West athletes pay all equipment, training, and travel fees out of their own pockets along with the generous support of organizations such as Dragon Boat BC, Oddball Workshop, 2XU Canada, Concord Special, Maple Leaf Insurance, and G2G Management. It’s an incredible feat when you learn that the team is made up of full-time students and working individuals who still make the time to come together and train.

If you wish to help send One West on their next journey to the 2016 CCWC in Adelaide, Australia e-mail onewestdragonboat@gmail.com for sponsorship packages. In addition, One West is hosting a fundraiser event on November 21st, 2014 at the Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby. For more information visit their website at: http://onewestdb.com/red-white-gold/.

To stay updated with One West, like them on their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/oneteam.onewest.