Sava Sprints 2011
The Sava Sprints were once again held at Lower Seletar Reservoir and attracted a strong turnout of local and overseas teams.
Saturday 10th September 2011
Our first success was in the Senior Open 12 crew. This gave the chance for our “veteran” members to show their mettle and potentially bag a medal in the twilight of their racing careers (many of them presumably facing the prospect that their next competitive ‘win’ might well be a lucky card at a Senior Citizens’ Bingo Night!).
The event was run over two rounds (one in the morning and one after lunch) with the cumulative times determining the placing.
Age had certainly not wearied this grizzled old crew and the first round proved to be ‘memorable’ as a competing boat strayed into our lane and collided alongside leaving no water for the lefties to paddle for several seconds! Luckily the righties paddled valiantly on until the other boat swung clear and the lefties found water again. Despite this mishap we took 3rd place on the first round. The boat that collided with us steered off and promptly sank. Luckily all of their crew were safely recovered and the team very graciously apologised to us later for the unfortunate mishap.
In the second round we took first place and this was enough to secure a SILVER overall for the event. Congratulations to Julio who was in his very first race and took a medal home for his efforts.
The next win was in the Singapore Expatriate Community Mixed 20 crew – and this event proved to be even more thrilling and action packed…
In the heat the team came 2nd and so qualified for the Grand Final. However in that Grand Final another crash happened and we were forced into an adjacent lane. The offending team was subsequently disqualified and our team and one other were offered a “time trial” to determine the final placings. The other team declined the offer and so this left the British Dragons to race the 250m course alone – and against only the clock. However the amazing team spirit (and steely grit and determination) kicked in and the crew clocked an exhilarating run – with the disqualified team very sportingly cheering our team on to success! Despite the challenge of racing without other competitors – but likely relieved that the only other boat that could collide with them was the safety boat – the team clocked an impressive time of 1:08:23. This shaved 2 seconds off our fastest times at that stage and secured a dramatic and very well deserved GOLD!
Sunday 11th September 2011
Sunday offered more excitement in the Premier Women 12 crew. In the heats we came 2nd narrowly beaten by Nanyang Technological University (and so avoided repecharges). In the Semi-Final we came 2nd but yet another collision (between other boats in the race) resulted in a time trial for those other teams and one of those timed results pushed us down to 3rd place (with a 0.3 second margin) and so out of the Grand Final into the Minor Final. We raced neck and neck against Singapore Management University (SMU) in the Minor and they beat us in a photo finish by a mere 4/100ths of a second! (SMU = 1:21:40, British Dragons = 1:21:44) leaving us to take a very hard won SILVER in the event.
Our concluding success of the day came when we were invited to participate in a lunchtime “Novelty” 12 crew event against teams from ‘Rest and Relax’ (Sembawang) and the ‘KPMG Dragons’. The volunteers who made up the crew had no idea that the “novelty” would be that two rows in each boat would be denied paddles and had to propel the boat using bailers! To add to the fun Rob Cooke tried his hand at drumming and certainly gave the role a much bigger profile than usual!
After furious paddling and, er, bailering, we took second place with a time of 1:21:44 and so scored our third SILVER of the weekend. ‘Rest and Relax’ didn’t quite live up to their name as they took first place with a time of 1:19:48.
Congratulations to Nelson who won his first SILVER medal in this race – despite only coming along to cheer for the team! Thanks also to all of the newer team members who turned up to show support and find out more about the action at a race weekend. Your support was really appreciated!
One personal observation that I believe illustrates the sportsmanship (should that be sportswomanship?) of our team came just after the medal awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon. Our Ladies team sought out the SMU Ladies team and offered them congratulations for beating us to Gold in such a closely fought race. It was a very touching moment as they all shook hands – made even more poignant because our Coach (Jason Chen) also coaches the SMU Ladies and we have sometimes done practice race sets with them in training. It underlined the good humour and respect fostered between the competing teams and the organisers and officials over the weekend despite all of the thrills and spills which had taken place!
The SAVA Sprints race weekend concluded with a lively night of celebrations at our Race Dinner at RedDot at Dempsey. The highlight was a fantastic video compilation by Douglas of the racing action (and wins!) from both Busan and Seletar which certainly provided very compelling entertainment. The evening also gave the team the chance to hear a recap from the Captains and Coach and see all of the medals, trophies and gifts from Korea at first hand. It was certainly a memorable conclusion to a very memorable weekend.
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