The day's races took place on a stretch of the river Trent, very close to Trent Bridge cricket ground. The locals are more accustomed to the streets being filled with die-hard cricket fans. However today the resedents were pleasantly surprised to find hoards dragon boaters descending on their neighbourhood. For this event Henley Dragons had a crew of 16 paddlers. Althought we were short of potentially four more paddlers, being less in number could potentially be an advantage at the start line due to the boat being that much lighter. We would have to see how being able to achieve a fast start would compensate for the raw power developed by 20 paddlers.
Henley Dragons first race was in heat 3 of the 200m event against Raging Dragons and Worcester Dragonflies. Knowing we had a light boat it was essential to get away quickly from the start line. After one false start, due to an over-enthusiastic official, our first race was under way. Henley made a very good start and crossed the finnish line in a time of 52.43 seconds, beating Worcester Dragonflies but behind Raging Dragons.
Our time resulted in Henley Dragons being placed 13th in the 200m heats, which saw us in a tail race against Crusaders and Pershore Phoenix. Hoping to thrash the competition in this race we made another solid start but came in second place in a time of 53.81 seconds resulting in us coming 14th overall in the 200m event.
With the mornings races out of the way our captain, Isobel, informed us we had a two hour lunch break until our first 500m race. The day's weather forecase had predicted a mixture of showers and sunshine so most crew members had come prepared with both waterproofs and sun cream. But the rain clouds never materialised and we took the opportunity to catch some rays over lunch. Sandwiches, pasta bananas and energy bars were washed down by plentiful supplies of tea and coffee from the catering marquee.
Our first 500m race was against 3 River Serpens and Batchworth. We made another solid start but due to having just 16 paddlers the boat lacked power. The last 150m of the race felt like a bit of a slog. We finished third in a time of 2 minutes 14.38 seconds. Henley were hoping to go into the cup competition but unfortunately were put into the plate competition against 3 River serpents and Pershore Phoenix. Our time was much better, finishing in 2 minutes 7.50 seconds. This put us into the plate semi-final against 3 River serpents (again) and Cool Running. At the plate semi, Henley got down the course in a a time of 2 minutes 11.84 seconds. With that time, Henley was put into the plate minor final up along side Cool Running and Typhoon Tigers. A time of 2 minutes 13.53 seconds Henley Dragons finished the day a 4th in the 500m plate competition.
To finish off the day Julia and Emma showed the rest of us they had a bit more left in the tank by competing in the ladies race. Their boat was crewed by paddlers from Raging Dragons, Notts Anaconda and Thames Taniwas.
On the day Henley Dragons put in a solid performance despite having just 16 paddlers. The crew stuck at it and gave everything it had. well done to everyone, especially to new members Kim Deacon and Jen Hawkins for representing Henely Dragons at Nottingham. Well done also to Henley's captain, Isobel, for getting a crew together for the day. Onwards and upwards for the next BDA league event....
Riding high on the crest of a wave from our success at London Henley Dragons were full of confidence. The next BDA league event took us to Nottingham. A day of competition lay ahead on a stretch of the River Trent in the heart of the city.
An eventful first race of the season with high winds, big waves and the cancellation of the 500s gave us more time to celebrate the hard work of the Henley members representing Great Britain at the world championships in Tampa Bay, Florida. We also said good bye to last year's captain who will be paddling (and working) in Australia for a few years.