Journey to the North - report by Pauline Lock
Congregating at the ever-hospitable Sam’s house on a hot June afternoon, we had 15 eager paddlers waiting to cram onto one minibus, together with numerous bags, paddles and most importantly Yin-Ting’s gossip magazines. I was impressed with my fellow paddlers who it seems had already begun their day with an epic journey of their own. Not forgetting to mention Ollie and Troi who had only landed that very morning off a flight from Hong Kong!
Thanks to Dan Chin and JC for driving, we eventually arrived in Stockton. We were looking forward to a shower and a shut-eye when we noticed a brightly lit bridge and some dragon boats on a trailer… one of our drivers had keyed in the postcode of the race venue into the Tom-Tom instead of the Travelodge! Resisting urges to sabotage the boats, we left the venue until the morning.
Despite what the weatherman had said about rain showers, the sun was blazing down on us but what made our day even brighter was the catwalk debut of our new team kit!
Memories of Bristol from two weeks’ earlier were still etched on each of our minds, can we get our minds settled for today and be able to focus fully? Once again we were a mixture of first and second team paddlers, all had shown their dedication by travelling so far to this event.
The first race of the day, we knew, was going to be a test, with Henley on one side and BA on the other we were ready to do our best to battle. We loaded up the boat and noticed that one space was left unseated… where was Kim? We stayed until we could wait no longer and started on our way to the start line. Out of the corner of our eyes we saw a figure in black with the orange stripe run down the stairs, unfortunately we were to be one-man down and the boat to be heavier on one side.
We didn’t let this stop us; we were so keen to race. “Stop the boat… attention… go!” we got off to an almighty start and fight we did
Henley: 50.19, BA: 51.06, Typhoon: 52.2
200m Rep 1
We waited to hear who we would be fighting against in the reps and as the teams were called out a smile broke out on our faces; it was to be a London Derby! Typhoon was up against Thames Taniwas and Rage. We knew we had more to offer and once again got ready to fight. We had our full team this time, and with log jokes aside we made our way up passing under the bridge we had seen lit up the night before.
We warmed up with some start pieces until JC was more confident that we could get that nailed on the line. The start was called and we were off, the pace was excellent and we could feel that each paddler was concentrating on what we were trained to do – making each stroke count.
Taniwas: 51.71, Typhoon: 52.45, Rage: 54.19
We made it into the semis, which we attacked to the same degree, up against Notts Anaconda and 3 River Serpents. 3 Rivers gave a great show and pushed us into second place but sending us into our first Minor Final of the season!
3 River: 50.52, Typhoon: 52.22, Notts: 52.75
200m Minor Final
With the mix of crews, most of the usual second team had never entered a Final before in a BDA race and you could feel that the adrenalin was pumping.
We were to race against BA and Thames Taniwas, two strong teams that are currently first and second in the Premier Division. The start was called and we were off, stroke after stroke we give our all.
BA: 51.47, Thames: 52, Typhoon: 53.47
After a break for lunch we got set for the 500m heats. We were to try out a new tactic, a restart at 250m to boost the power and to wake up those tired minds and limbs. Lining up next to us were Henley and Rage. Our starts have been good so far and this one was to be no different, we pushed off and powered our way down the course.
Henley: 2.08.06, Typhoon: 2.13.13, Rage: 2.13.69
Throughout the day, there were various 10-men charity teams competing in between the heats. We joined in with cheers of encouragement for the “Yellow” team and saw how these cheers gave them the extra boost to cross the finish line. After waiting for one of these races, it was our turn. This time we were on the start line with Secklow and Pershore Phoenix. The official shouted, “Typhoon you have been giving a first warning”. Hang on! We had to wait for the charity race! Any contesting would have to be done later. We had to get our heads in order for this race.
We were off! At 250m, we heard JC’s call of “3,2,1.” and we blasted our way into a re-start taking an almighty deep breath for our second wind.
We were in second place, just piped to the line by Secklow.
Secklow: 2.11.60, Typhoon: 2.12.50, Pershore: 2.13.30
Plate Major Final
We were exhausted, some of us were really sunburnt but we had one last race to go before we could call it a day. We had one more race and one more chance to make a stand for Typhoon. We were once again up against Secklow, and Amathus Bees.
With one final strong push, we were off! Our start gave us the lead we needed and as we passed under the bridge we got ready for the restart. 3,2,1…. Each paddle digging deeper, pushing for more power. Alas our tiredness and possibly our inexperience got the better of us and the power dropped too much for the other two teams to pass.
Amathus Bees: 2.09.88, Secklow: 2.10.77, Typhoon: 2.12.8
Even though we didn’t go home with a cup or a plate. I left feeling that there was everything to fight for in this league. We are four events in and I’m certain that the team that went out to race in Stockton, sacrificed their time and effort for a reason. So that Typhoon can continue to race and allow this team to get stronger.