By Donna Cochran
SPECIAL TO THE DRIFTWOOD
Spirit Point Dragons teamed up with Fairway Gorge Maximus Power on Sept. 17 in their final festival of the season — the Guts and Glory Championships along Victoria’s Selkirk waterfront.
The unique race formats saw Outrigger Canoe OC6 crews alternating heats with dragon boat teams. The distances were considered “sprints” for the OC6 teams while dragon boaters consider them as “distance,” i.e. gruelling!
The first race was a 1,000-metre “straight-shot” race from Point Hope Shipyards to the finish line at Halkett Island, requiring the teams to paddle a kilometre to reach the start line. The semi-final race was a 2,000-metre “oval” from the Halkett Island start line, under the Bay Bridge, lapping around two sets of buoys before returning to the Halkett Island finish line. Fortunately we were able to borrow a Fairway Gorge staff member, Derek Chow, who expertly steered the team through all the turns and avoided a collision with a rogue Victoria Harbour ferry that crossed over the race course right in front of us.
The championship final was a 1,000-metre “doublestart” with the first start at Halkett Island. The race took the teams around both stanchions of Bay Bridge and back down the course with a hard stop at the 750-metre mark, followed by a held re-start for the final 250 metres. Spirit Point/Maximus was teamed up with their main competition, Snogard Dragons, in the consolation finals. From the staggered start of the race our team gained momentum and pulled away from Snogard at a steady pace. At the hard stop 750-m mark, we were well out in front and got a fast restart for the last 250-m sprint. With the loud encouragement from coach Mary Rowles, the team dumped everything it had left and crossed the finish line with a time of 6.55, beating out Snowgard’s time of 7.24. We came home with a gold medal and a real sense of pride that we were able to “go the distance.”
Spirit Point paddlers included Serena Mellen, Donna Cochran, Mary Lou Cuddy, Lesley Grott, Shirley Julien, Cora Platz, Melynda Okulitch, Wendy McEachern, Michael Pierce, Rob Huber, Andrew Okulitch, Wendy Anderson and Wendy’s son and last minute stand-in Jamie Anderson. Maximus paddlers included Madhu Bannur, Ravishankar Gaddam, Mithun Somanathan Pillai, Ann-Marie Kelly, Ashish Malik and Jamie Polard.
A heartfelt “paddles up!” to manager Barry Green, who kept us on time all day (and all year) and to our coach, Mary Rowles, for her many years devoted to the team. Rowles paddled for the OC6 Fairway Gorge Performance Mixed team that day so was seen hopping from one boat to another.
The new season starts in the spring and new paddlers are always welcome. Contact Mary Rowles at email@example.com.