WOW!!! What an awesome opportunity to paddle against 4 other standard boat crews from Canada, USA, NZ and Australia. Our crew consisted of ladies who had only been paddling about a year and never been to the Australian National Titles, right through to those who had a number of National and International events under their belts.
Knowing we would have some very tough competition, we started training in earnest, sometimes up to 5/6 times a week from September 2015, with our associated sports club Brisbane River Dragons, under head coach Ewen McDonald. We competed in as many local regattas as possible, paddling in both survivor and sports categories, and completed the ‘race’ training by competing at the Queensland State Titles in March. Each of us came away from these titles knowing that we would have to step-up a few more notches to take on the competition at Club Crew World Championships (CCWC). More intense training occurred and from all the positive feedback from club members - we were ready.
March 31st arrived with our first training session at West Lakes in Adelaide. Windy, choppy conditions and new boats (that from all accounts and stories were very tippy) greeted us. While our sweeps were very experienced at pontoon starts, for some paddlers and our drummer, the rigours of keeping the boat positioned well for a start was a very new experience. A few race starts, skeleton races and our last practice was complete – home to rest up and get ready to race the world.
Day 1 2000m racing – We had done many, many races training for this on the Brisbane River, alongside our sports crews and we felt great. While lining up in typical ‘bunch’ style, the noise and cheering from the crowd made it almost impossible to hear the starter. We had 3 other crews in front of us, so when it came to our turn the noise was deafening and we actually couldn’t hear him which meant we missed the start. We had been told by our coaches that we would need to sustain a fairly high stroke rate in order to maintain the initial time distance between crews and then try to catch and pass them. While we made some distance up on the first 500m leg into a head wind, we had a good turn and starting making up ground on the boats in front of us. We worked hard along the back straight so that at the 2nd turn we were able to make a passing manoeuvre on the boat in front of us, which had just passed the boat in front of them. Now to keep in front of the Gold medallist from Ravenna-Rowbust from Canada and the Silver medallist from Ravenna-DA Sydney – which we did, and only one boat to ‘chase down’, we did get close but alas, we didn’t catch. We finished breathless, but elated with our performance - now to wait for results. Tears flowed from all paddlers and many of our supporters as we were asked to line up in front of the pathway to the GOLD dais. We had done it – the first Australian team to claim the BCS 2000m CCWC Title for standard boats, and we were given a guard of honour from our BRD family and supporters as we left the dais.
Days 2 and 3 – 200m and 500m racing – We raced wonderfully, and certainly not disgraced, in these two distances with only 16 paddlers, as some of our fabulous paddlers were needed in the Senior C women’s 10’s races immediately after our BCS races.
We have had a fantastic experience, learned a lot, made some wonderful friends from across the globe (swapping shirts with some) and have fires in our bellies to defend the 2000m title and strive for the 200 and 500m titles in Hungary 2018.