Weekend Impressions of the European Club Crew Championships

Observations from a boat marshal and paddler...

16 August 2007
In spite of the less than ideal circumstances encountered at the race venue in St. Petersburg, it actually says a lot of good things about the quality of EDBF races in general: hosts for EDBF races have been delivering such good quality venues that both paddlers and officials alike have come to expect a very high standard of race facilities. St Petersburg was a sharp reminder that not all hosts can provide the same quality of venue, while the excellent quality of the competition, crews and dedicated officials are a reminder that the basic necessities for good racing were nevertheless present in St. Petersburg.

As an English teacher in real life, I was impressed by the drummer from Volga Dragons (Rus), Dacha, she said her name was. She could speak very good English and was a very poised and polite young lady. There was an energetic young boy with OK Smoki (Pol) who, when his Dad was around became very shy and quiet, but when Dad wasn’t nearby, was full of questions and comments in very carefully phrased English. It was lovely to talk with these young people and share their enthusiasm for the sport.

How do race officials unwind after a
championship? With a friendly race,
of course!The " IDBF Allstars"
on Sunday evening.
Did you know that St. Petersburg has two airports for international arrivals and two Hotel St. Petersburgs? Nils Asmussen, IDBF race official does. He arrived at the other airport, expecting to be picked up and ended up having to take a cab to the hotel but the cab dropped him off at the wrong Hotel St. Petersburg! He then went to the race site, hoping to find someone who could help him out but other than cement trucks whizzing by, no-one was there. Six hours later and many hundreds of rubles poorer in cab fare, he eventually made it to the correct hotel.

Victor Kisselev has now become an official graduate of the School of Hard Knocks when he was badly let down by the local organizers (Victor is based in Vladivostok, more than 6000km from St Petersburg) and where some people might have been tempted to bail out when the going got tough, Victor stuck it out and didn’t jump ship.

In spite of everything, there are a lot of good things to be said of Victor’s character in that he kept going and saw things through to the end. He kept trying to make it better day by day and indeed it was. It was a hard lesson learned, but it will be a valuable lesson for Victor and the Russian DBF.

Venice´ s shirts were much admired by the
ladies from Viking! Or was it really the
shirt she was admiring?
If there was an award for most unique uniform of the weekend it would have to go to OK Smoki from Poland with their orange camouflage tops. In all my years as a paddler and race official, their shirts really stood out from the rest!

It was an unforgettable Championship that showed how even under less than ideal conditions, dragon boat racing is still a tremendous sport done by wonderful people! In spite of the facilities not being up to expectations, the crews attending the races certainly were excellent and enjoyed their races.

The Russian clubs were strong as usual and the clubs from the Czech Republic combined class with excellent racing quality. The folks from GB´s Masters International were pure ladies and gentlemen but had it tough on the water against strong teams from Germany, Russia and Poland.

The senior teams from Poland and Hungary gave evidence to the phrase "I´m not getting older, I´m just getting better." Norway’s Club Oslo Dragons were strong and friendly (not to mention good-looking in a red-headed Viking sort of way).

The Italian clubs showed style both on the water and in their impressive black uniforms. One could also see that the German clubs are fighting hard to re-gain their former supremacy on the waters.

Most impressive was the performance by the Junior Crews from Victoria and Volga Dragons in the Junior Mixed 2000m races. They started in the same heat as the Senior Mixed teams but never let the Seniors gain on them. Don´t look back - the future of dragon boat racing is ahead of us all.

Kim Beckwith, boat marshal


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