This afternoon we had our first session of dragon boat training. I am so much "backpack girl" nowadays. I always seem to have a backpack with me, complete with sports gear. Today I carted my dragon boat gear to Melbourne with me. One advantage of having it with me was that I was able to get changed into comfortable clothes for the flight back. I looked a little out of place with my trackies and work jacket, but I figured I didn't care what anyone thought.
When I jumped in the taxi I realised that I was going to be at the Yacht Club half an hour early. That meant I had time to go home and leave my work gear there. The weather was quite windy, so I was glad of the opportunity to grab my ecofleece, which turned out to be a lifesaver. I tossed my running jacket into my backpack as well, as I didn't know which would be more comfortable in the boat. I thought about grabbing a towel, but I didn't like to keep the taxi waiting too long so I didn't take one. I will next time!
I was still early which gave me time to wander around a little. I didn't have to wait long though, as the team started arriving. While it was nice to chat to people, I was a little irritated at how long it took to get started. The guy who was running our session didn't have a key to the shed with the paddles, so we had to wait around for a while. During this time he did give us a bit of a talk about the boat and we were all standing beside an old boat as he explained a few things to us. It was quite funny listening to him trying to avoid giving offence while explaining that you put the "bigger" people in the middle of the boat. The boat is wider in the middle, so I think we "bigger" people would have automatically gravitated there.
We were asked to match ourselves up with someone about our size. I have a really false idea of my size, as I tend to think of myself as bigger than I am, so I was at a loss. Fortunately, one of the women that I'd been chatting to earlier caught my eye, so we paired up. I've no idea if we're a good size match or not, but she seems like a pleasant partner to have.
I had no idea what dragon boat racing was going to be like, apart from expecting it to be fun, so I'd imagined that we'd be on our knees in the boat. I was worried about not being able to do that for very long, so I was relieved to see that there were seats for us. We were shown how to sit (butt against the gunwale) and how to hold the paddle. We were issued with paddles and life jackets and then we were lifting the boat into the water.
It was really windy and the lake was quite choppy. Fortunately for us we were still able to go out as there was a sheltered area that was safe enough for a novice crew to use. I was a little apprehensive about getting onto the boat, but it was a lot more stable than I'd expected. After some safety information, such as what to do if the boat tipped over, we headed off, paddling out onto the lake.
It was such fun! We got wet, as paddles threw water up and as the boat was caught by waves. Apparently we did quite well with the timing. I was glad I wasn't skinny enough to be one of the two girls at the front who had the job of pacing us. Our instructor steered us around the lake. I was quite impressed with the girls up the front at first, as I thought they were getting us around safely, but I finally thought about it and worked out what was going on.
We weren't supposed to look at our paddles while we were paddling. Instead we were supposed to be watching the pacers and keeping in time with them. I was trying hard to do this, and I would find it really disconcerting at times, when I put the paddle down into the water and it was deeper than expected due to a wave. I was going to roll up the sleeves on my jacket to keep it dry (I chose the running jacket when I realised we were going to be wet) but I was wet before I got a chance to do that. I gave into the inevitable, and just went with it. My glasses were spattered with water, my left arm and leg were soaked, I had no real idea what I was doing and I was having a fabulous time.
At one stage we swapped sides. I had thought we would have to go back to land to do this, but there was a really simple way to do it, which involved one person stepping across and the other sliding over on the seat. We did it a pair at a time and we didn't tip the boat over.
On Monday we're going to be learning how to start and how to race. I'm looking forward to it already. On the 21st October, we'll be in a few races. I'm not really sure if it's two or three, but I'll go in as many races as they'll let me. We're wearing pink t-shirts, and we might be jazzing it up with balloons and streamers. I'm going to have to see if I can talk someone into coming along to watch and take photos.
I got a ride back to town and went straight to trivia. I nearly went home to change, but I had enough dry clothes with me to survive sitting in the pub. Fortunately my feet had stayed pretty dry. I don't think I would have coped with wet feet. I'll be better prepared next time.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to feel this tomorrow. It was a great upper body workout.