“The years have proven to me that paddling is what brings this team together but paddling is not the reason it exists.There is something magical about the team and the festival. Things happen there that I'm sure most people could never understand.”
Tom Prader - Katie’s Krew
"2:32.14 – A Division Championship Final finish time earned through the synchronized, enthusiastic, and determined efforts of friends, family, colleagues, and eager newbies who came together as a team – the OARsome Challengers.
What a thrill to be part of the 2013 Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival for the first time and to have had the great fortune to join this awesome group. We met at practice on the hottest day of the summer where Captain Joanne and coaches Lindy and Crane helped the seasoned members knock off some rust, while showing the greenhorns (like me) how paddling “together!” is perhaps the most important key to getting those big beautiful dragon tailed cruiser’s skimming across the Schuylkill. You know that is true during those great moments when the team is in unison – but those moments can be fleeting because it’s super tough getting and keeping 20 paddlers in the same rhythm for any length of time. We took to the challenge during the next two practices and some of us got more opportunities during training for the Testosterone Challenge; the guys’ mixed team race that was held at the Festival. I also tried my hand at practicing in the Mainline paddle pool and throughout these experiences learned that Philadelphia is teeming with a wonderful community of dragon boat paddlers and enthusiasts.
Race day paired perfect weather with 147 teams for an exciting day of competition, camaraderie, laughs, and good clean fun. The festival organizers and volunteers did an excellent job and made it all work seamlessly. The OARsome Challengers brought their game (along with family, friends, and an amazing spread of food, drinks, and even Birthday Cake!!). We had some good, but not great, runs in the qualifying and semi-finals and managed to squeak into the Final Round. And then – a change of strategy, a refocus on technique, and a new mantra for all to call out “Sink it, Sink it, Sink it”, (later refined to “Synch it, Synch it, Synch it”) and for the 2:32.14 minutes after that starting horn blasted the OARsome Challengers paddled as one…
Winning our Division was fantastic; beating the times of the first place teams of the next three higher Divisions was also pretty cool; but that feeling of synchronicity, of the team finding our rhythm and working all together to make that dragon fly – that was the sweet spot for me and what will keep me coming back for more! Truly a great and joyful experience!"
Bruce Bayne – OARsome Challengers
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