On June 11-12th the Arizona Gila Dragons and some of our friends from the LA Thunder Dragons competed in the 31st Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival of Boston. Many of us traveled out a few days early to take in the sites of Boston and the surrounding area. We saw how beer was brewed at the Samuel Adams brewery, traveled the historic Freedom trail, had a pint at the original “Cheers” bar, and soaked in the infamous “Salem Witch Hunt” (bad choice since we had to burn a few of our paddlers at the stake…)
On Saturday, after picking up a couple of ringers (Peter and Lynette (festival organizers), two wonderful ladies from Harvard, and a gentleman from the Verizon team), we were ready to go. We paddled our heats on the Charles River along side the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I think we all felt smarter just being close to the campus. Our times turned a few heads and put us in the upper third of the seeding for Sunday. Saturday night our host team, Living Root, organized a great dinner at one of the local Irish Pubs in Boston. It was a fun mixer with great food, beverages, and friends!!!
On Sunday, we moved up the Charles River to Harvard, by now I knew we were smarter. As an extra treat one of Living Root’s paddlers is a chef who prepared an unbelievable assortment of gourmet food all day long for us. In our first race we competed against two of the top teams in the Festival and our time put us in the “B” bracket. Our second race was the “B” semi final which we won with lots of fan support on the river’s banks and moved us into the “B” final. The “B” final was one of the most exciting races we have been in. The lead changed several times during the race, but with an all out “last charge” we nosed out the competition to win the gold medal by only 0.6 seconds. The training Gary put us through leading up to this Festival really paid off.
The festival has to be in one of the most scenic locations. The Charles river along MIT and Harvard is spectacular with beautiful and historic architecture and panoramic views of Boston. The festival staff and other Dragon boat teams were very warm and receptive to us West Coasters and the city of Boston is a must see to any of you who have not been there. But most importantly, I cannot thank Sandy and the rest of the Living Root team enough for hosting us and making this Festival one we will always remember.