This summer, a 14 strong team of us from different departments at Malvern Instruments, plus a couple of our friends, came together as a crew and participated in a charity dragon boat race taking place in Worcester. Malvern’s HR team were very supportive of our participation in the event and the company generously sponsored us and made donation to the charity.
We all had great fun throughout the event, from training sessions to setting up our tent and gazebo on the race day. We even managed a frisbee game in between races to keep ourselves warmed up. We shall keep it short and go straight to the most exciting part, final race day!
We took part in three races in our effort to be crowned as the best dragon boaters. Here’s how it went….
For the first race we were one man down, as Adam is so fit he requires a warm up, cycling from Bromsgrove to Worcester! Quite a startled at race start but we quickly picked up pace and made good headway. We had a mid-race collapse with everyone going out of turn, probably due to passing the Malvern cheerleaders and posing for shots, but pulled it back together for a strong finish. Our drummer, Shona, required a second drum to ensure she could keep pace simultaneously with both of our “Strokes”, Ryan and Jake. In the end we came second by a boat length to fellow Malvern based company QinetiQ, (who were eventual finalists) and were quick enough to be in the top 15 (out of 39), with a time of around ~1:48mins.
Still just the 15 in the team for race two, as Adam had still not made it. Learning from our first race, we all either counted or chanted on each stroke in an attempt to maintain our rhythm. We improved time to ~1:46 but were again beaten by QinetiQ, but it was much closer this time and ended up 10th out of 39 boats. The boat moved much better on this run and we were disappointed by only a small increase in our speed, but this could be due to Shona being over-prepared and coming aboard with a full drum kit!
We were in the cup by now – the top 15 went into the Cup, the rest into the Plate competition. Our secret weapon (Adam) turned up and confidence improved. If we were that good with a man down and an uneven boat – the title was surely ours now we had a full complement. We all manned the boat and pushed off from the side. It was quite apparent from the off we were not in great shape. Slimline Adam had made the boat too light on one side, and we now had the left half of the boat struggling to get the paddle in the water, whilst the right hand side struggled to get their paddle out. Lesser-teams would have re-balanced the boat, but such was our confidence we carried on regardless. As soon as the race started the other boats powered past us, our ineffective paddling (half not in, half unable to get out) not cutting it at this level. This made our motto “Forward motion, not Brownian motion” less apt than we had hoped!
So we bowed out at this stage of the competition, having been beaten by a rather fancy team of sailors, QinetiQ and “the Electricals”. It was some consolation to learn that the latter two were in the final three of the day, so at least we had competed with the best and not looked without a hope. Next year we will be back, with Shona relinquishing her drumming in favour of a paddle to show us all how it’s done.