September 17, 2022

2022 Mercer County Dragon Boat Festival

As the Gilas were celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2022, the club decided to pick an extraordinary destination location to mark this special milestone in Gila history.  Hawaii was tossed out as the original destination idea, but due to the lingering aftermath of Covid, Hawaii DB race organizers decided to postpone the festival for another year.   Princeton, New Jersey was then suggested by Coach Peter, as it represented a location that the Gila’s have never traveled to, and its proximity to NYC made it a very attractive trip for a celebration trip at the same time!
Coach Peter pointed out that many elite East Coast and Canadian Clubs (e.g. IDBF Premiere Team Head Coach Bob McNamara’s PDBA club team from Philly, Catch-22 from NYC) would be in attendance, and that we needed to bring our best A-game to even compete with some of these teams.  The Gila’s were entered into the Community Division 500m Mixed Division which is designated for clubs that compete in 3 or less festivals / races a year.  The Gilas came in a respectable 3rd and 2nd in their preliminary heats, which earned them a spot in the A-Division Grand Final.  It was a close race in the finals as only 2.5 seconds separated the first and last place boats in the field of five.  But these power-house east coast teams proved to be too much to overcome, and the Gilas did not medal.  Still, we learned a great deal from the defeat and vowed that we would be back even better and stronger. 💪
The next day, the Gilas organized an E-Bike ride through Manhattan, which many don’t realize is only a 6 x 6 mile square.  The group started off in Central Park, then bobbed and weaved south through NYC traffic dodging cars and pedestrians with unnerving aplomb.  Long time transplanted Gila, Eric Mueller, astutely pointed out that in order to survive in NY, you need to own the place (be confident and not timid).  It was a fun and adventurous ride as we stopped at random brew pubs in fine Gila fashion, then stopped for lunch at Lombardi’s, which is America’s First (oldest) Pizzeria.  The group wound all the way down to Battery Park, near Ellis Island (great view of the Statue of Liberty), visited High Line Park (situated on an elevated set of train tracks), stopped at the One World Trade Center, and got a chance to view the 9/11 memorial fountains.
Though the Gila’s did not medal in the race, the group came away with an amazing experience, got a first-hand taste of what east-coast Dragon Boat power is all about, then had some incredibly fun celebration to wrap up their 20th anniversary highlight trip for 2022!  Go Gilas!

More Gila Team Updates