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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Shatin: A Stormy Exhibition Race

April 10th, 2016

Being hosted the same weekend as the Rugby Sevens (as well as conflicting with a lot of paddlers being out of town), we found ourselves racing in the 59th Samsung Dragon Boat Competition in Shatin with only 18 paddlers, entering both women and mixed mini boat teams. Unfortunately calling this a “stormy” race day rang very true when the races were delayed several hours due to an Amber Storm warning, resulting in the semifinal and repechage heats being cancelled. Thus, the teams going to the grand final were based solely on their time in their first heat. (No pressure or anything!) Once the rain cleared, the mixed boat kicked things off taking second place in a tough heat with a time of 57.02, which was enough to qualify for the grand finals. The ladies boat followed suit in their heat with a solid chug that moved them from last to second place across the finish line. The grand finals for both boats proved to be extremely competitive, with the ladies boat finishing fourth and the mixed boat finishing fifth. Notably, both teams shaved a significant amount off their race times in the finals compared to their first heat. Overall the team walked away from the races proud and ready for the 2016 dragon boat race season to get underway!

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2016 Sponsors, oh how lucky we are…

As with most paddling clubs, we survive solely because of the commitment of our crew and the generosity of our sponsors. This year we have once again been lucky enough to be sponsored by a number of amazing companies…

 

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BGC Partners has been a long-term member of our support crew. Being with us since 2007, they’ve been around to watch us grow as a team, helping us fund boat maintenance, race entry, and numerous other essential aspects of the club (it’s not just about showing up ready to paddle folks). Their sponsorship has played a massive role in our success… and to think, they do all of this while offering more than 200 financial products to numerous banks and financial institutions in the city, which you can read more about on their website. So between their skills in the finance world and their unwavering support of the Stormy Dragons, they are most certainly one of our favorite brokerage firms in HK!

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Being in their second year with us, Hubbis has officially caught Stormy fever! As a wealth management firm focused on commercial industries and individuals across Asia, they understand the value of concentrating their skills and knowledge into training and development resources for their clients… a value that’s mimicked by the veteran paddlers, coaches, and captains on our team when working with new teammates and beginner paddlers. More information about their products and and events can be found on their website.On Time Express Ltd_Logo

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We also have two brand new sponsors for the 2016 season: OnTime Group and T3EX Group. Being two of the leading logistics companies in HK, OnTime Group and T3EX Group strive to provide top quality international freight, supply chain management, and logistical support. And anyone that’s ever tried to wrangle an entire team of paddlers to and from an event understands the need for strong logistical support! Check out more about these two great companies on their websites (OnTime and T3EX). We’re so pleased to have them as part of our Stormy’s support crew!

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If you’ve been in HK for any length of time, then you have most certainly been to Stormies. Being located in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, Stormies has established themselves as an institution in the HK bar scene, complete with syringe jello shots and the music we all love to sing and dance to. Run by the Cafe Deco Group, Stormies also offers some amazing eats for lunch and dinner as well (not to mention a number of late night nibbles). They’ve been with us from the beginning, being the first sponsor of the original Stormy Women back in 2006. Check out their website and their Facebook page to see what all the fuss is about… and don’t forget to take a peek at the framed red shirt up on the second floor!!

So as you can tell we’re starting off the year with an amazing foundation. With a little luck, a LOT of training, and the support of our sponsors, the Stormy Dragons are ready to take on the 2016 paddling season! See you on the water!