“Let’s enter a team in the Rotary Club of Gloucester Severn’s Dragonboat Regatta this year” said RRA director, Jon White.
“Pardon?” we asked.
“It’ll be great fun!” he promised.
We had absolutely no idea what we were agreeing to when we murmured a tentative “erm, ok.”
Of course once we had agreed there was no going back, especially when we found out the chosen beneficiary was one of our favourite charities, the Pied Piper Appeal, which raises money for children in hospital and special schools in Gloucestershire.
So we ordered the tee-shirts, talked about whether we should be doing any training and generally got increasingly nervous as the 12th May approached.
On the day the sun showed up and we were very fortunate when the lovely owners of the Greek On The Docks restaurant allowed us to set up a base for our team at their restaurant and looked after us all day. As the first race approached and the Gable Events lady checked our lifejackets nerves were running pretty high. Before we knew it we were in the boat having our first taste of ‘dragonboating’ (and the Gloucester dock water) as we made our way to the starting line. Then suddenly we were off – paddling like crazy towards the quays.
Maybe we had a fair wind or maybe it was the adrenaline but we flew through the finishing line winning by several lengths.
With our confidence now riding high we won the second heat and came a very close second in the final heat to get a combined time of 118.05 seconds and a place in the semi-finals – not bad for a team where only one of the fourteen members had ever set foot in a dragonboat before.
The semi-finals were tough and we didn’t get through to the finals, somewhat to the relief of the teams aching limbs.
Our congratulations go to the afternoon winners, Newland Knights, and the morning winners, EDF Energy’s team, The Nautilus, who were also the overall winners. Our final place was 6th out of 28 teams, so we are pretty proud of our achievement.
Also we would like to say a huge “THANK YOU” to:
– all our fellow team competitors who demonstrated great comradery providing a fabulous atmosphere for all the spectators too,
– the Rotary Club of Gloucester Severn, particulary Rotarian Steve Markham, who organised the event,
– the Greek On The Docks for their hospitality,
– Gable Events who ran the day and
– the Great British weather for shining on us all day.
So we didn’t win, but Jon was right, we really did have great fun.