Season 2011 Review

Our season started off badly in 2011. Having assigned Wai-Kuen and Simon Chan as Vice and Vice Vice Captain for the upcoming season, our first task was to find someone to train us. Fortunately, this materialised in the form of Thames Dragons and our eventual Coach, Paul Coster. The plan was for Thames to train us up to helm and have access to their facilities and we will be self-sufficient. As time went on, I realised how good a Coach Paul was, and I asked him if he would be interested in doing it on a regular basis. Luckily for us, he agreed and so the Windy Panda’s fourth season began..

We kicked off the season by gathering the Pandas together and initiating the G4’s. I don’t want to say too much, in case I scare off the new and innocent G5’s!  Here’s a picture of them, face painting was just the introduction….let’s move on…

London Rotary
Our first event was in May at the London Rotary and going into the race, I was confident we would do well. We had a strong team and on the day, we pulled together and not without competition. We had two teams all within a second of our fastest time. In the final, I must admit, I was nervous. We had a real chance of winning something and I hoped we would do our best and show the others we can do. One minute, the race had finshed and we did it. Our first gold. A feeling of jubilation and relief. Amazing achievement. Well done all!

Stanley International DB Event, Hong Kong
Our second event was Windy’s first International in Hong Kong. The conditions were humid and sweltering heat which I can only describe as unbearable. However, we wasn’t going to let that stop us from making an impact overseas. We raced 3 heats to qualify and finished 57th out of 250 teams, which is simply incredible. The standards were so so high, I have not witnessed so many very good teams racing all in one shoreline. Epic racing against mountain backdrop,  racing with a hole in the boat, a very last minute drummer coming on board, being on tv, newspapers and interviewed on stage, the list goes on. Truly an experience not to be missed.

Our third race was around six weeks after Stanley and our first time we had entered this event and raced with a crew of 14. We qualified into the Semi-finals and got knocked out by the eventual winners. Looking back, I thought we did pretty good considering we didn’t have our first team and more importantly, a great day was had by all.
Our final race in 2011 was at Windsor, where for the very first time we were entered two teams; a boys and a girls team. This made the event very fun and also interesting, the “friendly” rivalry drove each team on and we could also support each other on throughout the day. The girls lost out in the final by inches, although Debs and Ting, Team Captains for the girls on the day, believes otherwise. The boys on the other hand finished in respectable third place and just couldn’t bring the gold home.
There you have it, another season gone. Looking back as Captain and founder of the team, I feel extremely proud of what we have achieved. First gold, first international, debut races at Windsor and Worthing, our super HK tees, our usual super montage, Panda Awards, our very own YouTube channel and website. Now that I have listed it out, it sounds like quite a remarkable achievement. Let’s not forget that we raised over £1000 for Japanese Earthquake Fund and NSPCC.
There were many great memories for me. Laughter, friendship, tears. My personally highlights was racing in Stanley and winning our first gold, but it was doing something with my friends and having fun together has made me realise what the Windy Pandas is about.
Getting (good looking) people together and having a great time.
Let’s hope 2012 will bring great times for the very good looking Windy Pandas Dragon Boat team…
…looking forward to it already!
Captain Jokey Jez