Hello 2016

With a mild December behind us, the crew found themselves paddling in sub-10 degree temperatures in January and February. Burr.

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But even though we’ve found ourselves on the water three times a week since January 4th (complete with ladies’ time trials and two fitness assessments), the 2016 season really kicked off last weekend with our annual dragon boat blessing and eye dotting ceremony with the villagers of Tai Tam.

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The dotting of the eyes, or “awakening the dragon”, is done every year prior to the main race season. The heads and tails are attached to the boats and, with the help of the villagers, we dress them up for the occasion. For the team, the ceremony starts with a trek to the local temple where we pay our respects and make offerings (like a roast pig!) for good luck. After bowing three times, each of us placed three sticks of incense at the temple to help ward off evil and bless the team (and boats) for the season.

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After getting the boats on the water, paper offerings were burned in front of the each dragon’s head. This was followed by the actual ceremony, where Gareth Page, Jeff Winterkorn, and Steve Kent had the honor of using red paint to dot the eyes, forehead, and tongue, while saying “Please awaken this golden dragon” (eyes), “Bless this world with peace and harmony” (forehead), and “Bless the crews with winning spirit” (tongue), effectively waking the dragon from its rest.

The crew then piled into the boats, paddled them out, and rushed the shore (with a race start no less!) towards the temple three times while yelling and drumming as a way to symbolize the dragons bowing to the gods.

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Following the ritual (and a full training session), the team shared a meal with the villagers, feasting on the roast pig and an assortment of delicious goodies. We’re so thankful to the local fishermen for everything they do in the area during the year. While their help during the eye dotting ceremony and preparing the pig roast is invaluable, they also help us keep an eye on the boats during bad weather and come out to steer for us during our training sessions. As a crew, we are all so thankful to be a part of such an amazing community of people in Tai Tam.

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So between waking the dragons, actively recruiting (have you read “5 Reasons Why You Should Join A Dragon Boat Team” by our ladies captain Vicki Easton yet?), planning our racing strategy, and preparing the team physically and mentally for the upcoming season, the Stormy Dragons have been busy both on and off the water. Hello 2016 indeed!

 

#stormysball2016

WHAT A NIGHT! To say that our 5th Annual Stormys’ Charity Ball for the Hong Kong Sea School went well last Saturday night would be a colossal understatement. We not only had a fantastic turn out, an amazing food and drink spread, great weather, tons of dancing (Oh my the dancing!), but we also surpassed our goal of $250,000 HKD for the evening! This puts the total amount we’ve raised for the Sea School beyond $1 million HKD in the 5 years we have been hosting the ball.

Over $1 million.

Let that number sink in for a moment and you will understand how truly humbled we are by the level of generosity that decorated gymnasium has seen over the years. For those of you that couldn’t make it to the event (or those of you that attended and were… ahem… distracted by all the amazing food, drinks, and company), check out this video produced by our own Linda Kovarik highlighting why we host the ball each year.

Organizing this event gives us an opportunity to give back to the community. It allows us to show our appreciation for what local organizations like the Sea School accomplish all year long, while also letting us rub elbows with friends and fellow paddlers from a number of local teams.
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The ball also gives us a chance to dress up and cut loose a little… ok, ok maybe more than a little!

With this year being one of the most successful we’ve ever had, a simple “thank you” to our guests and sponsors for their support of the event doesn’t even begin to cover our gratitude. None of it would be possible without you! And we would be remiss if we didn’t express our thanks to Tamby Chan (our MC for the evening) and DJ Gruv Derald Reynolds (the music man) for keeping us entertained and dancing all night.

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This appreciation is also extended to the members of Stormys led by Cheryl Fender (organizing her 5th ball this year with the same enthusiasm she had for the first back in 2012!) that donated their blood, sweat, and tears in order to put on the event. Without you, the ball wouldn’t have gotten off the ground 5 years ago (and it most certainly wouldn’t have happened this year) without your unfaltering commitment to the Sea School and its programs. Click here to check out all of the pictures our fabulous photographer captured from the night!

So while the party is over, the gym is cleaned, and we are all (hopefully) completely recovered from the events of the evening, we at Stormys can say without hesitation that we are surrounded by some of Hong Kong’s best. Until next year Cinderella! Cheers!

How to prepare for a Stormy’s ball in 5 easy steps

Well Cinderella, the annual Stormy’s charity ball for the Hong Kong Sea School is March 5th, 2016.

As in THIS Saturday.

Are you ready?

No, we didn’t think you would be… So to help you prepare for one amazing night of food, booze, and charitable donations, we’ve provided you with 5 easy steps to get yourself in top form for the big night:

 

Step 1: Buy your tickets

Obviously a big step here and by far the easiest. All you need to do is send an email (stormys.charity.ball@gmail.com) with the number of tickets you need. At only $1,000 HKD a person (all of which goes to the Hong Kong Sea School and covers your food and the open bar for the night), this night of shenanigans is a steal compared to what you might pay elsewhere in the city for much less.

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Step 2: Check out the auction items and raffle prizes

Again, another easy one here. The list below highlights all of the fabulous items that will be auctioned off during the night… and did we mention the great raffle prizes you could win just for showing up?? Check them out, pick your favorites, cross your fingers, and come prepared to bid big.

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Step 3: Put on your dancin’ shoes

When was the last time you got dressed up for a black tie event?? Well now is your chance. Ladies, put on your favorite little black dress or use the event as an excuse to get a gorgeous ball gown. Gentlemen, grab your tuxes or fancy suits. It’s always exciting to see friends in the paddling community all dressed up for an evening! And the guests aren’t the only ones getting a makeover… The Sea School gym, the venue for the event, will also be decked out for the occasion!

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Step 4: Eat, drink, and be merry!

We once again have the Butcher’s Club catering the event so be prepared to have an amazing meal. There will also be an assortment of beverages, all included with the ticket price with the exception of some “specialty” items that will be sold to raise some additional funds for the Sea School. We were also lucky enough to secure DJ Gruv Derald Reynolds and Tamby Chan as the MC for the evening!

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Step 5: Be generous

Over the course of the night, between the food and the dancing, we all need to remember why we are there in the first place: to raise money for a very worth cause.

The Hong Kong Sea School in Stanley was established in 1946 and has been an essential part of the community ever since. As a boarding school for underprivileged boys in the city, the Sea School provides a encouraging environment for the boys to learn and grow up. Since the first event, the Stormy’s Charity Ball has raised over $870,000 HKD and this year we hope to raise that total to $1,000,000! These funds go towards activities and learning opportunities for the boys, with a focus on water sports. But to hit our goal this year, we need you! So get your tickets, check out the auction items, and get ready for one amazing night!

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See you on Saturday!

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End of year party 2015

On November 7th, 40 odd people gathered at Aberdeen Boat Club to celebrate another season paddling with a red shirt on. This year was particularly special as we celebrated our 10 Year Anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, Cheryl Fender told the story of how the club was formed. And as fate would have it, the man that helped set up and coach that first bunch of women (Andy Cummings) was with us that night! Cheryl went on to talk about how Andy has since passed the coaching torch on to his wife (Anna Mathisen), who has help us set up our Outrigging team over the last few years. The men’s and women’s captains (Gareth Page and Vicki Easton) also said a few words to the team.

Whilst the night was complete with an open bar and loads of amazing food, the primary focus of the night was to recap and reflect on a great year. This was largely accomplished with a fantastic presentation from Darren Fender along with the annual trophy auction (20 in total) to raise valuable funds for the club.

Finally, on top of a Stormy’s welcome to some of our newest teammates, we also gave out a few awards as well…

Most Improved Male – Andrew Bancroft
Most Improved Female – Michelle Lau
Most Training Sessions attended – Cecillia Fabrizio
Best Club Spirit – Deanne Young
Worst Injury – David Horniblow
Best non-swimmer – Steve Lam

So while our evening reflecting on the 2015 season was one to remember, the crew is very ready to focus on the coming paddling season… Bring on 2016!

 

5 Reasons You Should Join a Dragon Boat Team

Originally published in Localiiz, our own Vicki Easton wrote this awesome piece with five very, very good reasons for joining a dragon boat team.

It starts off with:

1. It’s the ultimate team sport

No other sport in the world requires 20 paddlers to row at the same time across the same distance of water in perfect unison. The social scene after the races is great fun!

Now go read the other four here!