Monday, 22 April 2013

Another great Florida training camp...

What an amazing week it was last week (April 14-21) at Jim Farintosh's "Pines Camp" at Indian Harbour Beach near Melbourne Florida.  This was by far the best year yet at the camp.  Jim has structured the camp schedule to maximize the paddle experience as well as offer optional outrigger and coaching courses.  The coaches are some of the best in Canada and the USA. 

Everyone there is focused on becoming better paddlers.  I spent 19 hours on the water paddling in 6 days (dragon boat plus outrigger canoe), which is like two months of practices condensed into one week for a normally twice-a-week paddling team.

We paddled with many dolphins and manatees up close every day in the canal and out in the river.  There were also "Squirrels" on the water (as in Squirrel! from the movie Up!, which was said whenever an elite canoe/kayak paddler (male or female) zipped by the dragon boats.  In past years, we saw Adam van Koeverden and Tom Hall on the water, and other Olympic and national paddlers from several countries.

My typical Monday to Friday schedule consisted of the following...
 > 6:15-7:30am - outrigger canoe (OC-1) paddling with Derek and Dave.
 > 9:00-10:15am - dragon boat practice #1.
 > 10:15-10:45pm - individual dragon boat practice for those interested.
 > 11:00-11:30am - stretch class.
 > 12:00-12:30pm - daily talk on various topics by coaches.
 > 1:00-3:00pm - coaching course with Albert McDonald.
 > 3:15-4:30pm - dragon boat practice #2.
 > 4:30-5:00pm - individual dragon boat practice for those interested.

Other scheduled camp or team items... 
 > Sun. - met as a team for the first time to discuss the week.
 > Mon. - camp social and also picked up our camp jerseys.
 > Mon. - video #1 review in card room.
 > Wed. - video $2 review in card room. 
 > Wed. - team dinner at Bonefish Willies (Rusty Dragons tradition).
 > Thur. - afternoon off >> went to Cocoa Beach / Ron Jon's.
 > Fri. - anyone interested on our team got to try outrigger canoe.
 > Sat. - short warm-up practice then a 2km (2x1km) race.
 > Sat. - camp BBQ and roasting/skits for coaches.
 > Sat. - Lou's Blues for 4 hours of live music and dancing til close!

Loading dock on the canal (with our Pines units in the right)

Old and New Friends...

In addition to the paddling, the icing on the cake is spending a week with the team with no worries (hopefully) of work, rush hour traffic, or other distractions.  It was great to see so many familiar faces from many teams, as well as make new friends.  Plans are already being made for next year.

The 2013 Rusty Beasts (11 Rusty Dragons + 9 Beasts from the East)

Next year...

The Rusty Dragons will likely be going both weeks of the camp in 2014 (full teams of 20 likely through our new club affiliations in the USA and Canada).  Pre-registration will open this summer to start building those teams.  Whether you are a beginner, novice, or experienced paddler, this camp is a great opportunity to take a break from the routine and take it up a notch.  Anyone can do the camp, and anyone is welcome to register.  The camp does not advertise, but relies on word-of-mouth.  This year, the camp filled to capacity in record time (weeks).  If you have any questions about the camp, just ask!

Can't wait for next year...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Spirit Challenge Dragon Boat racing

At the Ministry of Finance Chinese New Year Banquet on February 15, 2013 I was approached by Anny Chow after my dragon boat speech to the 500 in attendance.  Anny is involved in the Spirit of Life (SOL) support organization for people with developmental disabilities. When she heard I support other teams as well as help organize the DDRA Canada Day Regatta at the Toronto Islands, she realized there was a potential partnership that could not only help her organization but the other Spirit Challenge teams as well.

Spirit of Life website: SOL Website

Anny (Past Chair of SOL and still an active member) then introduced me to 
Edward Lau (current president).  We had a long meeting to discuss the history behind the Spirit Challenge division and what they were looking for in an event.  It turns out, we were both in the right place at the right time and were keen to take advantage of this new opportunity.

As a result, I am excited that a framework for a new Spirit Challenge category has been developed for DDRA Canada Day Regatta (budget and race format) and I am working with Aaron at GWN regarding a dock system in support of all paddlers at the event.  There will now likely be a Community Division (3x500m races each team) and a Spirit Challenge Division (1x250m race) at the event.

The Rusty Dragons have committed to sponsor all Spirit Challenge teams at the event (with a $1200 donation), and we are working together with Spirit of Life (and shortly the DDRA) to come up with some additional sponsorship opportunities that we hope can match this donation to help make the event a reality.

Any interested in getting involved in supporting the Spirit Challenge initiative in any way should contact...
     > Tim MacFarlane ( - cell: 416-319-1867,
     > Edward Lau (, 

     > Anny Chow (anny,

This is shaping up to be a great new part of the special DDRA Canada Day Regatta that is celebrating it's 129th anniversary this summer (started in 1884 for canoe/kayak and rowing clubs, with dragon boats joining in 2003).