give me a perfect 10, green boat! shouted Seattleite Lee Bjorklund, standing tall in the stern of the 41 foot long dragon boat, gripping a steering oar and coaching his team of paddlers to give 10 rounds of their best strokes as they raced to catch a similar boat with a red dragon head at its bow.
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With each adrenaline stoked dip of the paddles, the green dragon head on Bjorklund boat jerked forward, like a pull toy on a taut string.
This was Wednesday night practice for the Seattle Flying Dragons paddling club, which has nothing to do with Loch Ness, or monsters except for having a monstrously good time, maybe.
Dragon heads decorate the boats bows, just ahead of the ceremonial drummer, all part of the 2,400 year old dragon boat tradition that migrated to this country from China in the 1980s and has taken its place alongside sculling, kayaking and canoeing on lakes and rivers across North America. Seattle area clubs boast about 250 paddlers.
The dragon boat is just one more interesting watercraft on the Seattle boating scene, and it will be part of this Saturday annual fete to the fleet, the Opening Day boat parade and races through Montlake Cut. wholesale nfl jerseys from china If you plan to be a spectator, practice your queenly wave. The folks in the dragon boats will be busy paddling.
Besides the cool dragon d usually mounted on the boats for races, not practices dragon boating has become popular, in part, because you don have to be a young, muscle bulged athlete to participate. Recent Flying Dragons members have ranged in age from 14 to 85.
Synchronicity among a boat 20 paddlers is more key to scooting across the water than the team collective bicep measurement, Valerie Robb, the club women team coach, told me when I showed up to try it myself.
On land, she did a dry demonstration of how a paddler uses the whole body to reach forward and dip the paddle fully into the water, then leaning back to pull the paddle and propel the boat. we just used our arms, we get too tired too fast! novelty attracts newcomers to the sport. The endorphins keep them coming.
started coming out in 2005 and thought I was just going for a nice paddle around the lake and found it was a real workout! said Robb, 56, of Redmond. gotten fit in spite of myself. Doing this gets in your blood. These people have fun.
just like the fact that we on the water! says Bjorklund, 64, a retiree from Weyerhaeuser corporate communications department. Because the club is committed to a roster of summertime races, members practice on the lake four times a week year round. In the winter, they be out after dark, when city lights up like a Christmas tree, the freeway is nothing but red lights the moon comes up over St.
Everyone loaded into the boats according to their weight and size, to keep balance. Paddlers sit two abreast on seats that average about 30 inches wide. We quickly moved away from the dock as paddlers on both sides of the boat worked together in splashy rhythm.
Lynelle Thon Hall, 46, who works in the business office at Group Health, was my no nonsense paddling partner, a four year veteran of dragon boating.
need to reach forward more with your paddle! she soon let me know.
I kept an eye on the paddlers ahead of me and tried to do as they did, when they did it. should turn your body inward slightly as you pull, Thon Hall urged, that we look at each other. reached and splashed and pulled. don see you! Thon Hall reminded, jarring me back into the pull and turn, pull and turn routine.
I quickly realized that coming to paddling practice straight from my office job without changing clothes wasn the brightest move. When these dragon boats get going, they really book. The drum beats, the paddles fly. And water splashes. All over slacks. And in big puddles around shoes.
you cold? Thon Hall asked after a while. That breeze was still blowing.
But no, the brisk pace kept me warm.
In fact, a dragon boat with an in synch crew of paddlers can move so fast the world record for a 500 meter race is 1 minute, 43 seconds that the Seattle crew pulled a 145 pound water skier as a demonstration during a Lake Union Wooden Boat Show two years ago.
In the middle of the lake, our boat paused while paddlers in each row carefully swapped sides, row by row, each with a chant of hut, ho! They do it so nobody gets tired of paddling on one side, or develops what they call a arm an overmuscled limb, like a lobster with one big claw.
Everybody contributes, even when they not on the water. Club member Keith Meicho made the colorful dragon heads and tails, using the same tooling foam that he works with in his boatbuilding job.