Tim Horton’s Dragon Boat Festival – Ottawa – Saturday June 22nd
I’m at Mooney’s Bay Park again today for the full course of dragon boat racing. The team that my wife is on, the CFUW – Ottawa Dragonauts, survived their participation in the special Friday night races and were all there in time for their photo session with their team-mate and photographer Lois Siegel. Since I got to park the car and just had to find the farthest away parking spot that I could, by the time that I arrived on the grounds the ladies were back at their tent discussing strategy, etc. for their Saturday heats. Lois, meanwhile was busy photographing the team next door – CBC Radio. Rain had been forecast but never came down hard enough to be disruptive. Its intermittent nature meant that umbrellas were in vogue among the spectators.
With time to spare, I went off with my camera to see if I could find anything interesting to photograph before heading down to the beach to watch the races. Wasn’t hard :-).
With close to 200 boat teams, there was always something happening on the water so, similar to what I did for the Friday night blog, what follows is a series of snapshots of some of the teams that passed by my point on the beach (not necessarily in order of race heats).Â There were two sets of boats in use, so it wasn’t always easy to tell which team was which especially if their t-shirts happened to be blue or black.
As was the case the night before, some of the crew were taking a more leisurely approach to get to the start line and, of course, while some stopped to look at the race, others took a moment to look at the gathering throngs on the shoreline.
The rain began to fall in earnest at one point and that meant that umbrellas had to be opened.Â For obvious reasons, the folks in the dragon boats in the midst of full-out racing didn’t get to have umbrellas though some might have been concerned about the effect of the rain on their hairdos. :-).
In addition to what was going on out on the water, there was always something of interest happening on the docks or along the beach.Â Whenever the media/VIP boat came up to the dock, I would watch to see how much photo equipment was going aboard and, of course, whenever the rains started, and the boat returned to the dock with dampened passengers, I felt a bit smug as I stood on dry land under the protection of a nice poncho.
For those photographers who stayed onshore, the problem was a bit different.Â How does one hold up a large camera with a telephoto lens while keeping dry on the end of a dock under a large umbrella?
I just hoped that the weather seals on my Nikon would keep the innards dry during the short periods of showers but others chose to bring out the full camera rain gear – usually if I try that, the rain stops before I get the camera covered :-).
I really have no idea what this boat’s drummer might have been saying at this point in time but “Now class, …” does enter my mind.
In a similar light-hearted vein, I can only guess what the drummer of this other boat might have been thinking when an unattended paddle handle came across her line of sight.
The organizers did an admirable job of keeping the heats on schedule even though, from time to time, they had to worry about various other waterway traffic causing a wake or wandering into the race area.
As I was taking shots of the various boats and crew passing my spot, some children were playing in my area.Â Then I heard, “Look, there’s your mother, now -Â the one in pink.” Definitely easier to spot someone wearing a different color of life jacket.
The one person on shore who seemed to take no notice of the weather conditions was the individual calling out the information of the upcoming heats. Dressed in his town crier outfit, he seemed to never miss a beat.
After all of that waiting, I heard him announce the 11AM race with the CFUW- Dragonauts in lane 1.Â Â A fellow beside me was happy, too.Â I think that he said that he was cheering for someone on the lime green team in Lane 2 in the same heat. Of course, that led to a bit of friendly banter about which boat would be quickest :-).
The CFUW-Ottawa Dragonauts had one of the larger spectator contingents for their first heat and they were cheered vigorously as they passed by on their way to the starting line. They get a few more photos in my blog because I’m a bit biased :-).
A bit of a rest as they watch the boats in the heat ahead of them race by in the opposite direction.
Once the boats reached the start line, they all got into position without too much trouble and the start was fine. The pirate boat might have caused a distraction but didn’t have anything to do with what would happen about a minute or so later!!!
Up ahead, boats in lanes 2 & 3 swerved to avoid each other and ended up encroaching on Lane 1. Happily, the Dragonauts had room to maneuver past the congestion and, in the last 100 meters, they were able to keep their pace up and came in ahead of another boat – not a first place finish but ….
Beat them by a dragon head whisker!!!
Plenty of things to do and watch while waiting for the next CFUW-Ottawa heat to commence later in the afternoon so, with the heat completed, off I went again to photograph some of the other activities that were taking place.
Volunteers were doing a great job everywhere from directing traffic, to helping folks into and out of the boats, selling raffle tickets and giving directions to the lost or weary. Plenty of volunteers needed to make an event like this a smooth running success and great to have plenty of options for food and entertainment for the competitors and spectators between the heats. Food was on my mind and the sound of music from the main tent was reaching my ears.
The rain had more or less stopped but it was nice to find a nice dry seat in the main tent where I could watch the world go by while listening to wonderful music and enjoying the other activities on stage. Here are three short iPad video clips of what that was like.
(website: Ottawa Taichie)
Ottawa Tai Chi members demonstrated theÂ Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan form and then the Sword form (video clip above) and then led audience participants through the motions.
While I was under the canvas of the main tent, the weather outside had improved quite a bit and the various heats continued almost non-stop. Between heats, there was lots of movement along the various viewing locations as spectators cheering on friends and families in one heat would move out and make way for those coming in to do the cheering for the participants ofÂ the next heat. Didn’t take long before I could move to a less obstructed vantage point to watch a few of the heats leading up to the next appearance of the CFUW-Ottawa entry.
While I was checking out the on-going heats, some of the CFUW-Ottawa Dragonauts had gone over to the tattoo tent and got some decorative work done in preparation for their next heat.
While the ladies were getting all lined up with other competitors in their heat, I was faced with fielding applications for positions on the team :-).
The CFUW ladies would be in lane 6 for this heat and, although they didn’t get their lucky boat from the first heat, it looks like they had a fierce one nontheless. Even the ducks feared this boat :-).
This heat wouldÂ be watched carefully from the VIP boat, and it wasn’t too long before the teams were ready at the start line and on their way again trying to beat their previous times.
The ladies maintained their form right to the end of the race and, although they wouldn’t be beating anyone in this heat, they did look like they might be a potential challenger in years to come.
Hi-5’s all around.
Time to start planning for the next race weekend!
This weekend there were about 200 teams competing in the various heats and the top finishers got to come back on the Sunday to complete for the big prizes.
This is the third of three of our publicly visible blog posts relating to the 2013 version of the Tim Horton’s Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival. Please feel free to leave a comment or pass the links along to others who might be in the pictures or might be interested in seeing what the event was all about.