What I love about paddling is the team spirit it can result in. Over the last decade, I've been in ' bad and downright ugly' boats where team spirit is about each person guarding their fiefdom. I've also been lucky enough to be in boats where the team spirit amongst the crew makes even those long, cold winter practices a pleasure.
In my present team, the respect in the boat for each person is, for me, exactly what team spirit should be all about. In fact, I would say our team spirit is so solid, we could walk on it! When you hear paddlers ragging on others and allocating blame for perceived 'failures', one wonders if less time was spent looking for fault and more time was spent on paddling and skills development, whether the team be more of a team - and ultimately more successful?
In my team, we paddle at every practice session as one, we have absolute respect for ever person in our boat. We have coaches who are totally dedicated to our development, and we never, ever rag on each other. You'll never hearing moaning, witness hissy-fits about being asked to seat in 'bad' seats, or have to put up with a non-stop back-seat driver whispering throughout your practice session what they think you should be doing. All paddlers should expect to be able to get into their boat smiling and chatting, and to get out exhausted, fired up and still smiling and chatting. All that is required is respect.
I had the privilege in my early paddling days to paddle with the X-Women crew (Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club) when they first won the gold cup at Stanley. The spirit in that crew was incredible - and this was 101% instigated by our inspirational captain and coach. Those not in the boat for the final race were screaming their support on the beach for those paddling their hearts out din that final battle. Our captain always ensured everyone in the team raced at every race as everyone brought a strength to the team, and therefore to each race. It was this affirmation of each person's value to the crew that ultimately resulted in our holding that coveted trophy at the end of the day. Were we the strongest crew? In terms of experience, probably not, and in terms of skills, again probably not. Did we want that trophy and work as one to get it? Absolutely. The trophy wasn't won in the race, it was won as we bonded together and paddled as one throughout the season. The cup was affirmation of our remarkable team spirit.
Those of us who move as one in a team with the spirit of the dragon firing through us, know that frequently hearing and saying, 'Well done!' is the core of a team's strength, that silence is golden, and that we should work on being the best we can for our team - not on pointing out others 'faults'. There is no correlation in any sport between the demoralization of team members and the acquisition of skills. It is this that ultimately will break a team and its spirit. Nuff said.
Okay - I'm going to be frank and direct here: I'm not talking about muscle-related training pains ... I'm talking about the pains on the butt. Mind you, I think pains is probably under-estimating the shock and swift reaction when the shower water makes contact with missing patches of skin.
So what's the solution? I've tried padded shorts, unpadded shorts, cycling shorts, seat pads ... the list of endless.
To be honest, if you're putting 101% into your paddling stroke, your movement while paddling will mean that your butt is going to be subject to constant pressure and friction resulting from the forward/back and up-down movements that a strong, clean stroke requires.
So what solutions are worth considering? Well, nappy-rash cream is effective as a first-level barrier. If not nappy-rash cream, if you can get your hands on any Sudofed cream, it's very, very good. (Buy a couple of pots - trust me.. it's an investment!) Secondly, padded shorts and a slim-fitting seat pad. The seat pad helps in that you can put it exactly where the pressure falls, and then hopefully your padded short will help deal with the rest. In our boat, the best seat pad is a thin, soft rubberised cloth that can be folded; the kind of cloth that can be used to stop furniture etc. slipping.
But to be honest - it's like blisters and hard skin on your hands. It's all part of the sport. And when you are joining in the conversations about what to do about your sore butt, you know then that you really are a paddler.
Hope to see you one day on the water... paddles up! x
How many times have you surfed the Net for dragon boat information in Hong Kong? There's lots of stuff, but it's all over the place. Well, d-tsunami.com has been designed to have everything 'dragon' in one place!
We're going to be able to offer you up-to-date race information, results and photos; team profiles and how to join, training tips - and so, so much more!