Lamma Ladies in Penang Part 2

After the excitement of Thursday, the Lamma Ladies (a couple of them, anyway) were up bright and early to find themselves a new, mysterious - and hopefully - willing female helm.

By 9:30am it was solved. We were told a lovely girl from Australia would be our helm for the day. So we sat down to wait for our race.

By 11:00am we were called up to the big house (technical director's tents) to be told that Sylvia could not be our helm, as she was needed to perform as a marshall throughout the rest of the day (which was true, but didn't make us too happy since here was yet another kink in our constantly changing schedule).

Then we met Bev, a lovely,
lovely woman from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, who would NOW be our helm for the day. If we had known then (when we met her) how swiftly we would come to adore Bev, we would have been dancing with joy.

After a couple more hours' hanging about the tent, reading or resting and generally being bored senseless, we were call to our first heat of the day for the 200-meter dash.

And we raced, and we were was rubbish.
For reasons too boring and convoluted to go into here, the calls from the starter, (Sample: "Hold, hold, right, front, back, boat two forward, back, hold, hold HOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLDDDDD, boat one, what do you want? Forward, back, hoooooolllllddd ..... are you ready???? HOLLLLLLLDDDD, attention. Go!") were so aggravating the crew was muttering profanities and ready to assault any official who got close enough to swing at.

During the melee of muttering and confusion of the weird calls to our boat, everyone else began the race. The Ladies were 2 strokes behind from the beginning.
Paddles flew into action at a super-high rating, and our timing down the boat was vile.

Nevertheless, we came fourth, by - to quote one delicate Lamma Femme, "A gnat's chuff" - whatever that is.
So we had our second race - to repechage - an hour later.

In the meanwhile, here are some lovely photos of Lamma's Lunatics waiting for races, or preparing for races.

Jessica Rabbit

"No, you get the drumsticks."

Wishbone Georgie

Captain Gina's regular face (left)

Lamma Ladies Group Cheer with Bangles

The repechage was fine. Uneventful, boring even. And we came second. So we were happy and headed to the semi-finals!

Lamma Ladies: 2nd in Repechage

But then, things started to go awry. We went to the semi, and we were given our first sign that not all was well with the race.

Dawn - the Beast - has her number called...

The line up for boat at the startline was hellish. That same wind that had torn across the reservoir on Thursday was now pushing the bows of the dragon boats forward and back. Our guest-helm Bev fought to control our boat on the outside lane; which was far more prone to the winds.

After innumerable delays, and Bev nearly falling overboard with the strain of keeping the boat on course, the crazy announcers ("HOOOOOLLLLLLLDDDDDD. Ready? Attention! Go!") finally started the race. Twenty-two frustrated crew members went paddling like maniacs down the course.

However, we were not the only maniacs on the water:

Collision with Singapore Paddle Club

The helmswoman for the Singapore Paddle Club lost her footing, and her boat veered swiftly into the Lamma crew, T-boning seats one and two, and knocking the Beast right off her drum and into the reservoir.

There were a few screams and some hideous cursing as the crew craned their necks to make certain Dawn wasn't drowning or being battered by paddles.
The Lamma Ladies were - in a word - freaking.

The Beast was swimming, Claudia and Sharon were busy picking themselves up off the floor and the rest of the crew was certain we had all died and would forever paddle in the purgatory that is a reservoir in Penang, with IDBF rules. (Ed note: On further reflection, that could be hell).

Fortunately, la Beast was fine, so the crew we paddled off in some other direction, wondering what to do before we went back to the pontoon.

Hmmm - why is the pink lady on the speed boat? Is this a "Where's Waldo" puzzle?
Above, aimless lamma ladies paddle around without a .... Beast

Bev took us back to our start with great calm, Gina's insta-fangs were retracted, and we arrived at the dock hale and whole, if rattled and frustrated.

The poor helmswoman of the Singapore Paddle Club was devastated, and apologized profusely (and hey, it
happens; nobody does that kind of thing on purpose!).

But now the Lamma Ladies had to decide whether they wanted to enter the next semi-final immediately, or protest the results of the one we'd just run, and possibly loose our chance to finish the 200-meter races at the event

With no guarantees of the outcome of an official protest, we opted to race again.

Lamma Ladies kicking ass in the outside lane (far left)

Roaring away at the start, the ladies ran on nerves and fury, keeping apace with 2 of the top teams in the world. We ultimately crossed the finish line in 3rd place, but we were delighted to be there.

More importantly: we were in the top 12!!!

Saturday's race for the 200-meter final will be the ladies' first chance at top-ten contender status. Currently in either 11th or 12th place overall, we are fighting to pick up a few placements in the final.

But really, after a new drowning, countless starter issues, boredom waiting between races, and general worries about whether or not we would have a helm (Thanks Bev!!), we reckon that overall, Saturday has GOT to be better than Friday.

We think.

One race only on Saturday: then to the beach to rest for a few hours before the Sunday 500 meter showdown.

Saturday's results to be posted here later... but below: the final results for the 200 meter race on Friday.

Lamma Ladies in Penang!

International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF)
6th Club Crew World Championships 2008, Penang, Malaysia.

The Arrival:

The first thing we notice when we get to our hotel on Wednesday evening is – Hey! It’s really nice!
The Lamma Ladies have traveled throughout Asia on several international events, though none so big or formal as the Club Crew World Championships (more than 20 countries represented). Evidently, the Penang tourist bureau wasn’t putting its low-rent hotels on the itinerary, so our median-range hotel looks rather swank to us village girls. Real blankets on the beds! Toilet paper in the bathroom! No cockroaches! Luxury!

That, so far, is the good news.

The Troubles:

The bad news is plentiful and overwhelming. Barely 10 days before the event, the Hong Kong teams (and the rest of the Asian teams) in the Premier Women’s League discovered that unlike in Asia, the North American, Australian, and (we assume) European Dragon Boat crews all use women steerspersons/helms in the “women’s event.”

Lest that sound obvious to the uninitiated, the nine Asian women’s teams have uniformly raced with men for helms throughout Asia, and have done so for many, many years. And although we all have been told throughout the years that these Asian races were "women's only" crews, the presence of a male helm did not nullify their standing as, well - you know - WOMEN. Even by the alleged IDBF rules we were all apparently following.

This would NOT be the case in Penang in 2008!  This was a helluva spoiler, discovered too late to tell our male helm, Frazer McGilvray, who had flown in especially from the *cough* USA to make it to the event.

No amount of cajoling or pleading, or polite or aggressive emails in advance, would move the IDBF or the Australian and North American teams on this matter (it came down to a vote between participating teams and we were outnumbered). This was a distinctly  "Asian problem,” since it was uniformly Asian teams that were in the dark over the regulations.

The options given to our teams were thus:
  • Use a male helm and accaept that your results don’t count;
  • Use a male helm and pay a USD $500 fine;
  • Use a female helm from another team whose race doesn’t conflict with your own, and who agrees to help you out (damn good of them, really);
  • Cause a big stink about it and be disqualified. Every single stinker among us.
** To be fair: that is what we were told the options were. The Lamma Ladies' flight was landing in Penang just as the managers’ meeting was commencing. We had proxy representation that informed us of the results. The stress headaches got worse from there.

In the long run: approximately nine teams had to replace their male helms for a small pool of unknown women. In summary, we were told we had to give our men their walking papers.

Rude side note: Asia – China and Hong Kong – may be the official heart of Dragon Boating, but apparently, the head is firmly running the show (and sadly, that head is buried in the crevice of another continent’s buttocks).

Frazer - Our lone Pink Man!

The Result of the Troubles:

Let it never be said the Lamma Ladies are not loyal! In a solidarity vote, the crew opted to have Frazer helm for our first event, the 2,000 meter race, and accept the fact that although we would be given a time, our results would not be officially recognized.

For the upcoming 200 and 500-meter races, we would accept an unknown female helm, and enter as full competitors, but for the 2,000-meter, we were absolutely going to go with the steersman who has helmed with us for many races these past 6 years!

So, for our first race, we pulled on our screaming pink crew shirts, and got our butts on the water.

Lamma Ladies Make Friends Everywhere

The First Race of the Weekend:

The 2,000-meter race, which incorporates a staggered start of 12 seconds between competitors, and three hairpin turns, is challenging in the best of conditions.

We did NOT have the best of conditions.

The winds over the reservoir were pushing countless crews off-course, driving them into each other, and generally providing a spectacle of carnage on the water. Frazer was looking a little green as we surveyed a race that took place just 30 minutes before we were scheduled to begin.

Conditions became so bad, that the organizers delayed proceedings for 30 minutes in hopes the situation would calm down. And it did, a little.

Twenty Premier Women’s teams were in the 2,000- meter competition. The Lamma Ladies were in boat number nine. We inched our way forward to the start line. Each boat was staggered by 12 seconds. Teams would chase each other around the course, and fight not to be overtaken.

We looked ahead at the start line. Boat seven was on its way. Boat eight waited to go – them, poof – they were off. Ten seconds later, our paddles were up and ready to go and – poof – we were off.

The crew was in excellent form, the timing was perfectly in unison, and the rating was calm and measured. It was a two-kilometer race after all: dashing off like maniacs wouldn’t work for anyone.

Of course, when one of the top three international women’s blew past us in a fine mist of water and a flash of red, we almost reconsidered.

Ladies apres race one...

But the crew held strong, and pushed out an excellent first attempt at a 2,000-meter race time. At 12:46, we had beaten our own practice records by nearly a minute. Moreover, Frazer steered the race magnificently, turning directly on the buoy lines and never missing an inch; taking to work the smoothest, most direct route possible.

Once out of the boat the crew was ecstatic. This was a new distance for us, and it was not quite the time we would have liked in comparison to the field (we were NOT in the top 10 for that race, unofficially or otherwise); but it felt good and the team felt strong.

End of the Day:

What followed was the team getting on the bus to head back to the lovely, roach-free hotel, while Claudia and Gina attended the evening’s team managers meeting. There they learned that the Canadian teams felt there was too much bumpy dirt under their marquis (and the complainant actually said the word “conspiracy” – as in “conspiracy of dirt”). Some Australians wanted more aggressive ID checks at the race stations to make sure – we gather – no secret “ringers” were being snuck into boats. We just asked for a woman helm to identify herself so we could beg her to help us on Friday. There were none available at that time.

And so, Day One was over. Three more race days to go, and a female helm to be found by 10am on Friday morning. Precisely 11 hours from this minute! (as written). We start at 8am. Four cups of coffee ought to get us going. That and a Power Bar or two.

Friday races: the 200-meter sprint! The target: Top 10, or puke our guts out trying!

xxx the
Lamma Ladies.

A little crew love

Miss Mel and company, after the race

Party with the Ladieeez like it's 1988

Got a secret thing for HUGE hair and especially bad cosmetics? Miss acid-wash jeans and Duran Duran? (you sad ass; talk about a view to a kill).

Join the Lamma Dragons (menfolk and wimmin-folk) for their 20th Anniversary Party on May 31st at the Island Bar - 8:00pm onwards.

There will be the usual revelry: including jelly shots, stupid - that is, FUN! - games, tunes and hooch (and hoochie mamas: this is the Lamma Ladies we is talking about).

Better yet, it's "Dress like it's 1988" night! Not only did 1988 bring us big hair, sparkly lip gloss (Max Factor, you are guilty of so many things...), pointy shoes and men wearing way too much eye-liner - in addition to so many assaults on our musical senses - it brought us the Lamma Dragon Ladies!

So come on down and celebrate! Lamma Ladies of the past, present and future are all welcome (and the men too!). We'll have special 20th anniversary shirts on sale, as well as a fab selection of the 80s finest discs a-spinnin' through the evening (not really spinning; it IS the digital age after all).

*Please note: the Lamma Ladies accept no responsibility for any emotional damage 80s flashbacks have on participants. Moonwalk at your own peril (1981-82). Crotch-grabbing - with or without sparkly goves - is not advised.

Lamma Ladies - Ready to roar in 2008

The Lamma Ladies are celebrating 20 years of kicking butt on the water and falling on our butts while celebrating!

New paddlers are welcome to register for the 2008 season. Please visit the Island Bar (Main Street Lamma .... if you don't know where it is, you really, really need us) on Sunday, February 3rd at 3:00pm.

If you cannot make it, or would like more information, please call Gina at 9121 3648, or email (please add: Lamma Ladies Recruitment to the subject line).

The Lamma Ladies have a 2-week window for recruitment this season. So sign up early!

See you all (cold and wet) on the water!