BDA number 3, the wonderful infamous Cardiff Atlantic Wharf… for the past two years TT has yet to paddle at this venue and we were determine to make it a day to remember, no Weddings, no Chung Wah, we were ready and strong to take on this event, or so we thought…
After a disappointing result at Exeter, just missing out on the major finals of each race with less than a second, we wanted to learn from our mistake and add that little more effort and power to prove a point at Cardiff, that we are still one of the top teams in the country… but more disaster was to befall us as we found out that we were down to 20 people without no subs or Drummer after a few last minute pullouts…
We all met up bright and early at the docks at 8:30 and to our delight the weather was looking bright if not a bit chilly… In case of the forecasted rain, we built our marquee which we finally brought along and Sam’s smaller tent to store the bags. The marquee proved more hassle than what it was worth, although it sheltered us from the cold winds, it emulated itself as kite and had to be weighed down with bags upon bags to anchor it to the ground to prevent it from flying off. As we wasn’t using a dedicated boat, we knew that there be a lot of waiting around for pool boats and tried to get to the docks early to secure a good boat for our races which didn’t pay off as it seems that boat were already pre-decided.
200m - Heat 1.
Exe-calibre, Typhoon, Kingston Pretenders and Pershore Phoenix
Going into the first race of the day, we all knew that we wouldn’t have any problem qualifying for the semis and missing the energy sapping reps but we couldn’t get complacent… we needed a fast time to get the best possible draw in the semi’s. Placed in lane 2, we were ready to prove why we are one of the country fastest teams at the 200m discipline… we went with 18 paddlers with Jo drumming. After a long delay in finding a drumstick for the pool boat we finally headed up to the start line and were immediately called to the start line having no time to do any warm up pieces.
It took a while for the boats to line up, it seems that the course was prone to swirling winds, depending on when the races began; each race could not be measured accurately as some races would have tail wind, crosswind or headwind… We just had to be sure to win our own races and to get clear water on the others to ensure that we get a fast time.
There was a silence once the boats were lined up, we listened carefully for the start word of Go and bang! We were off!!! We were composed, strong and eager to paddle powerfully even though we were clear waters ahead of the other team, this was about getting the fastest time in the heat to ensure a good draw for the semi. We crossed the line comfortably but never once did we relax until Richard called us down to easy…
Results: TT (49.17), KP (53.06), Exe-Calibre (54.34), PP (57.41)
200m – Semi
Henley, Typhoon, Bristol Empire, Cool Running
We qualified with the fastest qualifying heats time, but the draw wasn’t as easy as we had hoped, we were against Henley – hungry after the loss to us at every race last time at Exeter, Bristol – also hungry to avenge their defeat to us at Exeter and Cool Running who wished us the best of luck J.
Again Jo was drumming, and we went out with the same team as before… we knew what we had to do, win the race but also paddle as hard as we could in case we may qualify as the fastest loser to make it into the Major Finals. Once the boats were lined up, we prepared ourselves mentally until the race was called to start… Heads down and ready, looking over the handle of the paddle, just waiting eagerly for the call “GO”… We were off!!! We knew that we couldn’t afford to hold anything back, at the start we were slightly ahead of BE but towards the middle we were neck and neck with BE for the remainder of the race, towards the end of the race it seems that the pacers didn’t hear the finish call… but we still tried to do the final push for the line… but to no prevail, we lost by a hair whisper… just 0.4 of a second separating us from the Major Finals.
Results: BE (48.53), TT (48.91), Henley (50.28) and CR (51.09)
200m – Minor Finals
Henley, Typhoon, BA and Cool Runnings
After waiting around to see if we managed to make it into the Major Final as fastest losers, it was not meant to be, Kingston qualified as fastest loser which meant we were in the Minor Final. We knew that we deserved to be in the major finals, s we wanted to make a point and decided to blitz this race and try to achieve a faster time than that of teams in the Major Final. With 20 people paddling this time around, we managed to recruit Abi from Worcester to drum for us.
Again we faced Henley and Cool Running, but we had BA as well… We were fast off the start line and maintained our strength and composure, with good shouting from the drummer to egg us on we crossed the finishing line quite comfortably with over a second than that of the other teams.
Results: TT (50.06), BA (51.13), Henley (52.63), CR (53.03)
500m – Heats
Secklow, Thames Taniwais, Typhoon and Notts Anaconda
We knew that we had a tough draw with Thames, so we decided to go with 20 again and we needed to kidnap a drummer from one of the other teams… Kalai managed to find a young boy from BA – Kyle to drum for us and he was quite happy to be part of the team.
We couldn’t be complacent with Thames, we knew that they were a different team than that of last year but we had to remain focused and trust in our training to power our way through the 500m. After a long wait for the pool boats, we were allowed to take the Worcester Dragons boat and proceeded to remove the sandbags that were in the boat to balance it out. This boat allowed a lot more room to paddle than that of the other pool boats, so people at the back were happy not to be crushed and cramped.
At the start line, we knew what we had to do; we had to win this race to avoid the reps and to get automatically into the Semi. As the first 500m race of the day we knew that it was going to be tough especially with the changing wind conditions and close water racing… We didn’t know what to expect as we never raced in this event before, there was a quick start as the boats were all lined up correctly and with a powerful start from us we were leading the pack and just kept on gaining momentum with each and every stroke. With Kyle egging us on with his calls to encourage us to paddle harder we never drop the power and maintained the same stroke rate throughout and had clear waters from the other teams. We crossed the line with seconds apart from the other teams and congratulated the new member of the Typhoon Tigers on a drumming job well done.
Results: TT (2.07.20), Thames (2.12.80), Notts (2.13.26), Secklow (2.18.41)
500m – Semi
Taniwhas, Typhoon, Kingston and Colenorton
With the fourth fastest qualifying times for the heats we were facing a team that we didn’t want to face… Kingston. They had proven themselves to be very strong at Exeter but now we were facing them on a head to head with the victor automatically qualifying for the Major Finals, whilst 2nd place would wait to see if they would qualify as fastest loser… Kyle was happy to drum for us again and we paddled up to the start line, knowing what had to be done.
As the race was started, we flew from our starting lines but there was nothing in it between Kingston and us, we were neck and neck with Kingston all the way until the 250 mark when they just proved too strong and started to pull away inch by inch to crossed the finish line by almost a boat length in front of us… With good calling from Kyle, we maintained our composure and finished 2nd.
We could only wait and see if we qualified for the Major Final as fastest losers but after looking at our times that was not hopeful as it was 3 seconds slower than our first…
Results: KR (2.07.42), TT (2.10.98), Thames (2.12.98), Colenorton (2.18.91)
500m – Minor Finals
Typhoon, Bristol, Henley and Thames Taniwhas
The last race of the day, everyone was exhausted but was determined to give it all they got for one last race, after all we didn’t travel all this way to end up 8th place… it was easy to pack up and leave but these were precious BDA points that we needed to pick up to maintain 3rd in the 500m league tables. We knew what we needed to do, dig deeper and drive down harder…
We managed to get Helen from Secklow to drum for us, but once again we were waiting around for a drumstick… as we were running really late we just had to make do with drumming with a water bottle… Once again as soon as we were up on the start line we had to be immediately prepared because the other crews has been waiting quite a while for us. We were in lane 1… we knew that we had to push it hard as there was a bit of shallow water that would slow us down if we didn’t keep up the speed of the boat. We were racing with the same people all day, so nobody had time to rest, we were racing both Thames and Henley for the third time.
We were composed; mind focused, leaning forwards we placed the paddle into the water as one unit waiting for the call to start. “Crews, are you ready, attention, GO!!!”, Urrgghhh!!!, the boat exploded forwards, each sets of ten bringing the boat speed up and up, then it was into the reach, long and strong, driving down with each stroke in time with the person in front. There was nothing else we had to do, no looking at other boats just focus on our timing and technique. With continuous calls from our drummer we kept up the pace and power and with a call for the final kick for the line, the boat surged forwards once again and we kept up with Bristol to cross the finishing line together. We knew that we we’re either 1st or 2nd, it was too close to call…
Results: Bristol (2.11.06), TT (2.11.79), Thames (2.12.97), Henley (2.13.31)
After a long hard day of racing, our final results were 5th at 200m and 6th at 500m. At the end of the day we did well, we only got beaten by two strong crews, Bristol and Kingston. The races that we had with Bristol been tooth and nail all the way without a clear winner until the very end with less than a second separating us, whilst the Kingston one was a lot more defined.
We did nothing wrong in our races, we had no control of which boats to use, lots of waiting time for pool boats and were rushed at every race because we were always the last to get a boat and paddle up to the course… It proved that racing in the premier league is no easy task, with qualifying times for the Major Finals less than a second apart… We can only learn from this day and dig deep into ourselves to be more powerful and stronger to make up for that 1 second different… More rotation, more drive down, high catch, more kick back, hell… bring on more intensive training! Get ready for BDA number 4 – Bristol!!
By Solid Al
1st --> Amathus
2nd --> Kingston Royals
3rd --> Bristol Empires
4th --> Raging Dragons
5th --> Typhoon Tigers
6th --> BA Hurricanes
7th --> Henley Dragons
8th --> Thames Taniwhas
9th --> Amathus Bees
1st --> Amathus
2nd --> Kingston Royals
3rd --> Raging Dragons
4th --> BA Hurricanes
5th --> Bristol Empires
6th --> Typhoon Tigers
7th --> Thames Taniwhas
8th --> Henley Dragons
9th --> Amathus Bees