YorkMix aimed to make a splash as we entered a team for the dragon boat racing for the first time. And we did win a trophy… Richard McDougall reports
Having covered the York Rotary Club Dragon Boat Race from the sidelines in 2012, YorkMix dipped their collective paddles in the water to race for death or glory. Our chosen charity was Yorkshire Cancer Research and the Rotary Club’s Help for Heroes.
Unlike 2012, when the terrible wet summer let to postponement of the race, the sun welcomed racers and watchers with bright blue skies. The Ouse, however, looked murky and the thought of more than a few mouthfuls from a dunking served as a great motivator.
Team YorkMix was, appropriately enough, a mixed bag drawn from staff, family and friends and more than a few game electricians from Dennis King Electrical. Led by Ian Peckitt, who’s mother died from cancer last year, many of us had never met before, most had never paddled in their lives and all had never worked together.
We headed off for the mandatory safety briefing, which reminded us all that there was a serious side in the event of a capsize, then it was paddles at dawn and into the first race.
The course runs between Scarborough and Lendal Bridges and was lined with thousands of spectators. The distance is ‘just’ 250 metres. It doesn’t look far from the banks and would take approximately 20 seconds to cover in a car travelling at 60mph. From the water level it looked a lot more.
Terrible would be a masterpiece of understatement. Despite the best efforts of the professional helmsman manning the tiller, our timing was all over, our paddles crashed and we posted a trophy-winning time of 1.43.40.
A couple of substitutions were made for race 2 and we took 16 seconds off our time. This left us third from bottom and with a chance to save face.
For the third and final run (unless we made the finals), we discussed tactics. We needed to lose another five seconds and everything from boat position to our chant was discussed. We entered the water and practiced down the course. Mix… mix… mix… The other chants were discounted on taste grounds. We rounded Scarborough bridge and, to the Hawaii Five O theme, dug-in for all we were worth. In the end we put in our best show of 1.26.57. Not enough to save us from the wooden oar, but an improvement on our previous two races.
It was a great family day and we left having raised more than £2,500 for Yorkshire Cancer Research and Help for Heroes. There was already some talk of a return to defend our trophy.