When I step back and look at the Windy Pandas, they remind me a bit of Manchester United (non-football fans, stay with me here…)
You see…similar to the Red Devils, our strength is a combination of hardened Veterans, talented newbies, sturdy leadership and a freakish amount of good looks!
It’s my fourth year of watching the rise and rise of the WPs, seeing us grow from literally a concept/idea to raise some NSPCC moola to a club with a history, tradition…..and baby oil.
I won’t bore you with all the minute details of my time as a G1 Alumni, but just throw out a few tid bits so you may understand my legendary ‘laissez faire’ attitude towards proceedings..
Firstly, any newbies reading this and finding it hard, let me assure you, I used to suck…..and when I say suck, I mean really suck!
Dragon boating requires those key elements of timing, an unnatural technique and stamina…a tricky task for anyone. We’ve all been there and all I can remember is that endurance pieces equalled a world of pain. But even in those early days (with said pain), there was something I loved about this sport. The camaraderie, the athleticism, the banter and generally being there for your team mates…on and off the water.
For me as the seasons have passed, it’s those latter aspects which have kept me getting out of bed early on a Saturday, doing battle with the North Circular and paddling miles for training in the rain while wondering why I have never invested in a water proof jacket…
In terms of competitions, there are some things which are certainly imprinted in my brain, but maybe not the obvious ones some may Imagine. Obviously, season 1 for the whole fact that we competed as friends with no expectations will mean that it’s always special.
However, there are small things like….children being fascinated with the whole idea of a ‘Windy Panda’ on race days and wanting pictures with us, seeing the amount of friends coming out to support us, or that post-tournament haze I (and I’m sure others) get after its all finished and realising you’ve given absolutely everything your body can give…
On the more surreal side, this sport/team has also provided an ample amount of memorable experiences. From the joys of scraping ice out of your boat before you can even practise, to paddling off the coast of Hong Kong into the deep blue sea, watching fish darting underneath the hull as small mountains dot the horizon….
On that note, rather than me mumbling on, I will leave you to explore the rest of this archive of WP history. Enjoy………….and keep your eyes peeled for more obscure observations of a G1 panda 🙂