West Lakes SA 5021
(WRITTEN WITH THE HELP OF DESMA SMITH & KATHRYN SANFORD)
Once we arrive at an event away from home, the focus changes and becomes all about racing and supporting the team – not much else gets your attention. For some, the lead up was their focus and commitment to training. For others, the commitment to training while paramount had to be juggled along with the responsibilities of work, school and university. Two weeks of the paddling world meant that everyone had to brush up on their organisation and delegating skills before we could jump on the plane!
The birds were singing, the sun was shining and Adelaide came to life commencing the first day of racing for what would be a two week campaign for some paddlers. First up the Flame’s favourite race; 2km. There we were in marshalling when the official crew list had 9 paddlers, drummer and sweep. Nothing could be done apart a revised boat set up and off we went to fight our most favourite event. Words from the drummer as we lined up, “Okay guys, We LOVE adversity, we can do this”, and from paddler Serge, “That’s how we roll!”. The crew was driven, committed and Jen’s turns were tight and smart. We got off the water, the boat was balanced and ran well but it wasn’t until we were back at the accommodation that news had broke out that we had taken Gold by 0.05 sec! What a fantastic way to start a two week long campaign.
Jen described the boats as ‘responsive’ others would say ‘tippy’, either way lean too much left or right and the crew would sense it. With Serge on the back and on our way to the start line, the mixed masters crew went swimming; it was all happening in slow motion yet graceful. Amusingly, Desma on the drum and Serge on the back both jumped while the rest of crew had time think about how they would enter the water – knowing all the time they were going in.
Masters had been racing for 3 days plus state day before many of the premiers arrived. It was interesting to hear echoes of groans, getting to bed, and another day of paddling to come from them all, when the Masters paddlers were moving into Day 6, 7, 8, and more.
Another memorable highlight of the Australian Championships was the Premier Women Standard Boat 2000m. Winds were recorded up to 50km on the day and nerves were increasing by the second as we waited at the starting line. Off they went, with Jen’s impeccable turns, tactical calls and thumping all the way down the line, the women finished victorious. Reclaiming the title as National 2000m champions by 0.23sec!