Stanley Warm Up 2016

May 14th, 2016

Between back-to-back races in 5 categories and broken paddles, BGC Stormy Dragon Andy Bancroft recounts the events for the crew at the Sun Life Stanley Warm Up Race, the first in a series of three race days to be hosted at the venue over the next few weeks…

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The morning was windswept and blustery, ominous clouds loomed overhead, but Stormys was ready to compete in the Stanley Warm Up Races! The conditions during the morning heats were challenging, with a significant amount of chop splashing water into the boats. Thankfully the sun came out in the afternoon to make the semi finals and finals more enjoyable for paddlers and spectators alike.

Our mixed standard boat was the first to compete, recording the fastest time of the day and a first place finish, securing us a place in the semi finals. We saw another first place finish in the semis, putting us straight into the Gold Cup Final against the Seagods, two V Power crews, and an experiences HSBC corporate team. We had a great start off the line and led from the start, holding this first place position across the line to take the Gold Cup, beating 112 teams in the process.

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The ladies standard boat also got off to an excellent start, finishing first and holding off challenges from the AWA Globe Paddlers and the French Froggies. This first place finish was repeated in the next heat, with the AWA Globe Paddlers and the Sea Cucumbers following close behind. In their final race of the day, the Stormy ladies fought hard, coming in 3rd place behind the Globe Paddlers and the Sea Cucumbers who were looking for revenge from the first two races. However, this finish was enough to secure first place overall as the results are based on points from all three races. Ladies Gold Cup Champions!

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Both the ladies mini boat and the mixed mini boat categories brought us more success, with a bronze for the ladies and 5th for the mixed crews in the Gold Cup Finals. This really was a great achievement as many of the paddlers in these crews were racing in their first races ever!

The Stormy men were also in action in the mini boat category. They ran a great first race, but were guilty of giving away the lead to the Liechtenstein Navy and finished second place. However, our time got us (and 8 other teams) into the Gold Cup Final. The men were fired up for the final and were confident they could reverse the results from the first heat. We go out to a great start and were in a commanding lead when our right point man Fred Schlomann snapped his paddle. However, Fred with the utmost cool, managed to pick up the spare paddle he had placed at the front of the boat, rejoin the race (missing only 3 strokes!), and help us paddle to victory! Click here to check out Fred’s famous paddle breaking/recovery skills.

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 Taken together, our crew kicked off the Sun Life series with style!
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KPMG Lamma 500m & 1K 2016

May 1st, 2016

Taking place just a short week after we were paddling in the Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival and the Deep Water Bay South Eagle Invitational, the BGC Stormy Dragons were primed and ready for the KPMG Lamma 500m and 1K races in the Womens and Mixed standard boat categories.

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As a club we’re known for our love of long distances pieces, and the Lamma 500m and 1K courses are ideal for putting our training to the test.

The Stormy women came out of the gate strong in their first 500m heat, coming second to one of our main competitors at the event: RHKYC. The ladies remedied this with a first place finish in their second heat, placing them in the Womens Cup Final. This was followed by a STUNNING first place 1K race in which we not only passed the boat in the position before us in the rolling start, but also beat most of the mixed teams in terms of time (sub 5 minutes)!! In the 500m Final, we paddled a solid race, coming second again to the RHKYC who pinched the gold just before the finish line. This event also saw a number of new women in the boat stepping up for their Stormy debut! What a day ladies!

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The Mixed crew followed suit, and in our first 500m we battled VRC for the length of the course, ending in second place by less than half a second. We went into the second heat focused and trusting the chug, which resulted in a finishing time of 2 minutes 10.56 seconds… The fastest overall for the second round of Mixed teams! Not surprisingly, the 1K (oh how we love it!) gave us another opportunity to show the competition that long distance training pays off. With a solid chug, this first place finish got us all into the right mindset going into the Mixed Cup Final.

While the entire crew was excited about our times from the second heat and the 1K, they paled in comparison to the performance in the Mixed Cup Final! We paddle one of the best races of the season, shooting out of the start and settling into a strong chug. With a final time of 2 minutes 6.84 seconds (THE BEST MIXED TIME OF THE DAY), to say we crossed the line with smiles on our faces would be an understatement (particularly for the 4 Stormy women that competed in all 8 of the women and mixed races over the course of the day). Notably, this is only the second time the team has taken home the gold in this event in the last 10 years!

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After such a great day of racing, the team was ready to celebrate on the junk boat back to HK island, complete with plenty of photo ops with the trophies and other shenanigans!

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Click here to check out all of the final race results along with the recap video below.

With 4 gold and 1 silver trophy in our hands leaving Lamma, Stormys is heading into the Sun Life Stanley Race Series with their game faces on! Are you ready??

South Eagle Invitational: The Home Team

April 24th, 2016

With some of the BGC Stormy Dragon family off paddling as the “away team” in Boracay, the “home team” took on some tough competition in the South Eagle Invitational hosted in Deep Water Bay. Per usual, the weather in Hong Kong was unpredictable, leaving us marooned under the marquee at various intervals during the day.

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But the weather certainly didn’t discourage us when it came to racing, with our mixed mini boat taking first place in our first heat of the day. This was followed by some race video analysis by our coaches Cheryl and Darren Fender, ladies captain Vicki Easton, and our drummer Michelle Teasel in Boracay.

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After a little reprieve from the rain (and a bit of fun with the sweetest Stormys fan), we took second in the semi finals, securing a chance to compete in the Gold Cup Finals.

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The day was rounded out with a hard fought fourth place finish in the mixed Gold Cup Finals and a trophy for the “home team”. Click here to see some video footage of the final race highlighting our photo finish (we’re in the closest lane… in the red shirts, obviously).

Whether home or away, rain or shine, the BGC Stormy Dragons certainly had an amazing weekend of paddling with some results to be proud of! Paddles up!

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Boracay, Philippines: The Away Team

April 21st – 23rd, 2016

Ah Boracay… the land of sun, sea, San Miguel, and the 10th Annual Boracay International Dragon Boat Races. As the Stormys “away team” (with the “home team” racing back in Hong Kong), we found ourselves paddling in paradise for the 8th time in 10 years, using Thursday as a training day to get accustomed to the boats and water conditions followed by two intense days of racing (including both 500m and 250m events). To say the competition was fierce would be an understatement. But our team did not disappoint, medaling in 9 of the 11 events we were entered in…

Gold

  • 500m – Women’s small boat
  • 500m – Mixed masters small boat
  • 500m – Men’s small boat
  • 500m – International mixed standard boat
  • 250m – Women’s small boat
  • 250m – Mixed masters small boat

Silver

  • 500m – Woman’s standard Boat
  • 250m – International masters mixed Standard

Bronze

  • 250M – Woman’s standard boat

It’s difficult to describe the levels of excitement and anticipation during each event, with each paddler racing in multiple races throughout the day. It is also near impossible to explain the amount of comradery, laughter, and exhaustion experienced by all… and we are certainly not going to try and count the number of mango daiquiris consumed!

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and this sentiment has never been more true…

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The Stormys “away team” left Boracay with our heads high, harboring a deep respect for the organizers as well as the other teams that competed. Check out the video below for a fantastic recap of the entire event. We’ll see you next year Boracay!

Deep Water Bay 500m Regatta: The Official 2016 Race Season Opener

April 17th, 2016

And so the dragon boat season begins for the BGC Stormy Dragons. At the Deep Water Bay 500m Regatta this year we entered the Women’s, Men’s, and Mixed events. Here’s the recap of the day from our own Holly Campbell and Darren Fender…

Women’s

After warming up for the first race the women were full of nervous excitement as one never knows what to expect from the water in Deep Water Bay.   As the team walked across the beach to load the boats everyone was focusing on different aspects of the 500m that lay ahead, many going through the start sequence in their heads.  In true Stormy’s style everyone instilled confidence in each other and gave words of calming encouragement whilst reiterating how much they wanted to win!

What a first race!! We flew through the finish line with a good margin and erupted with cheers. The joy of winning combined with the relief of getting the first race out of the way was wonderful.

We were a little less nervous for the second race though it was equally as important to end strong.  Our focus paid off and we gained another win!

For the final race, whilst everyone was still just as nervous and eager to cross the line first we all relaxed for a moment on the jetty singing along to our team song – Justin Bieber “Stormys!” Is it too late now to say Stormys (or ‘Sorry’ to those of you not in the know!)

Everyone knew this race was going to be tough, we’d all been checking the race times throughout the day and eagerly watching the other heats from the shore. We came again together to stay calm while knowing what had to be done and loaded the boats for the last time…    It was a very tough race, but we claimed the GOLD!!!

Another eruption from the team, the girls couldn’t congratulate each other enough on the boat until Captain Vicki had to remind us to actually paddle the boat back to the jetty!  Veuve! Veuve! Veuve! Veuve!

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Mixed

The first race for the mixed team was always going to be a little tough because it was straight after the women’s first heat! Talk about back-to-back! Luckily our training prepares us for this and after switching sides and letting the boys paddle the boat up to the starting line everyone was ready to go.

The first race was incredibly close, with our boat coming second by a smidgen of a second. So while it felt strong, our competitor Buzz nipped us to the post!

Luckily no more back-to-backs for the rest of the day and by the second race the Mixed team took a confidence-building first place. The chug felt great, strong, and powerful and the boat sailed along. Lots of slaps on the backs and bear hugs to say well done!

The tough thing about the final race was that we hadn’t yet come up against most of the teams in our prior heats so we knew it was going to be a challenge. And it was. We gave it everything, left nothing behind and it was close between all six teams. Although we wanted to win, fourth place is a great line in the sand for the next regatta.  Watch this space.

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Men’s

The Stormy men approached this race with a squad of just 12 paddlers and were fortunately buoyed by 4 friends of the team (in the shape of Iain, Darrin, Gus, and John from the South Lantau Buffaloes). While this still left us 4 men short of a full boat, we were all eager to get some racing experience for the crew and 4 of the Stormy women graced the boat with their presence to fill the seats.

The first heat was daunting, being against 3 of the best men’s teams attending the regatta, namely our hosts VRC, RHKYC, and Buzz.  The instructions were simple: run our own race and see where we fall in the mix. This mentality secured us a respectable 4th place finish, providing us with an idea of how the boat was running.

During the 2nd heats for the various men’s crews, VRC, RHKYC, and Buzz all won their respective rounds. Placing 2nd behind VRC, we ran a controlled race with our 4 borrowed boys and 4 girls. Fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, our 4th place from the first heat meant that we would be competing in the 2nd tier Open Plate Final despite recording the 4th fastest men’s heat of the day.

The Final: Whilst trying to protect the girls for their pig seeking final,we managed to borrow 3 more men from our friends at the Tai Tam Tigers so we could run with 19 guys and 1 brave Stormy woman, Justyna, in the final. We ran a great race, completing the 500m in 2’08, a time which would have taken 4th in the Gold Cup Final, but placed us first in our respective Open Plate Final. Taken together, this finish was a very satisfying result considering we had only 12 Stormy men on the roster.

Well done gents! TIME to RECRUIT!

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