Calendar Check

This might be a good time to synchronize our calendars (or at least our thinking about our calendars)..... Our initial goal was to travel to at least one out-of-town race this season; we updated that goal this spring and decided to shoot for three out-of-town dragonboat races: DC, Toronto, and Philadelphia. Here's a summary of where we are now -- have I missed anything?

We had a great time in DC, learned a lot. We've missed the registration deadline for Toronto, but Pauline is talking to JW to see if Steel City might still be interested in taking along some female Paddlefish to race a Pittsburgh women's boat. (If you are willing and able to go to Toronto, let Pauline know ASAP.)

Info on the October 2nd Philly race is outlined in an earlier blog post -- are we ready to register?

Chuck is going to contact Cleveland to see what the registration fee would be for out-of-town teams. The Cleveland race is July 3rd (Saturday).

Also happening that weekend is the Three Rivers Regatta. The lighted boat parade is Saturday night (July 3rd at 10 PM), and dragonboat and kayak races are on Sunday's schedule as tentative events from 10 AM - 2 PM.

Comments on racing in Cleveland? On participating in the lighted boat parade and dragonboating in the Regatta?

Final race calendar note: the Pittsburgh Dragonboat Festival will be held September 18th.

Upcoming social events:

    Monday -- Memorial Day Picnic after practice (thanks, Laurie B!)

    Sometime in June -- 40+40 Celebration for Mike's birthday

    End of July -- Lisa's First Birthday Party


Having river withdrawal? We'll get back on the water again some day!  Posted by Hello


Traveling to Toronto

Detailed information about traveling from the US to Canada can be found at http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/E/pub/cp/rc4161/rc4161-e.html. In summary, US citizens should carry, as proof of citizenship, a birth certificate plus picture ID. A passport is not necessary, but would certainly suffice as proof as citizenship. If you need to obtain a birth certificate, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm has links to info for all states.

Recreational Team

How would members of the team feel about "volunteering" for the recreational team? The rec team cannot fill the boat during their practices. We could both interact with the rec team and offer them a more enjoyable experience if we filled some of the empty seats. We also may be able to recruit some of them if we "volunteer" over a period of time. I suggest that at least four of us rotate through the rec boat each week. It would require, at most, one day per team member per month. A team member who is paddling on the rec boat could skip one of his or her team practices so that he or she does not become overly "dragonboated" in a particular week. Does this work for all of you? I can take next Tuesday. I am willing to do more than one day a month if we can get this idea moving.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a friend on the rec team. However, I am more concerned because most of us started paddling with the rec team. I view the rec team as a potential source of recruits and a form of TRRA outreach. We will suffer in the long term if we lose that link with the community, and we may lose that link if people lose interest in the rec team because the boat is perpetually half empty.



Giant Eagle will sell gift cards to the team at a discount- following is taken from their website. The more we purchase at any given time the bigger the discount we get, ranging from 2 - 5%. I am willing to organize this if there is enough support. The money we make can then be used for scholarships for travel, uniforms, race fees etc.

"Purchased in quantity, the Giant Eagle Gift Card is offered to non-profit organizations at various discount levels. The Gift Cards can then be resold at face value and used just like cash for most merchandise from Giant Eagle store departments like The Bake Shop, The Famous Deli, The Farmers Market, Iggle Video, The Gift Garden or The ProSeries Photo Center.

The Giant Eagle Gift Card is available in denominations of $10, $15, $25, $50 and $100. Customers can use the card just like cash and it automatically recalculates the balance so it can be used for the full value. At the checkout, a customer gives the cashier the previously purchased card. The cashier completes the transaction, automatically deducts the amount and the receipt reflects the remaining card balance."

If you would be willing to participate in this please email me or post here with an estimate of how many dollars in gift cards you would be likely to buy each month. Note that you will not have to pay for the whole month's upfront, but until we get rolling we need to have a good estimate. Also remember you can sell these gift cards at face value to family, friends and co-workers.

This is a chance to expand the team by offering some scholarship help - and after all we all have to eat!! If there is enough support I will make the application to Giant Eagle.

Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival

Looking some months ahead.... The Philadelphia Dragonboat Festival is being held Saturday, October 2nd, on Pauline's favorite-river-to-pronounce, the Schuykill.

They have set a goal of having 100 teams register for the race; 52 have registered so far (and they have not yet begun to formally advertise). The registration fee is $1000. (Local teams are asked to also contribute $100 per paddler to benefit the Fox Chase Cancer Center, but out-of-town teams are just asked for the registration fee.) A $250 deposit is due at registration to hold a spot; the balance is due later.

If I'm reading their rules correctly, we would not be able to pull into our boat any paddlers who are already registered at the festival with a different team.

Their "hotel of choice" is the downtown Philly Marriott. I'm not sure whether they have worked out special room rates for dragon boat teams.

For more information, please see the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival site.

Are we ready to commit to this one, or do we want to defer a decision until later in the summer?


Memorial Day Picnic

I will e-mail everyone as well as post this--practice on Monday May 31 will be at Millvale at 3:00--we will practice for about 1.5 hours and then head to our house at 295 Shadowlawn Avenue, in Mt. Lebanon for a picnic/dinner.
Let's do this rain or shine--we can eat inside if necessary.

Directions: Go through Fort Pitt Tunnel to get off immediately at the Banksville Road exit. Travel on Banksville for about 2 miles and turn right onto McMonagle (at Rite Aid) take the next left onto North Meadowcroft-go through three (I think) stop signs and turn right onto Shadowlawn--our house is the second on the left. 412-306-7741

So far we have the following people bringing the following food items:

Lisa: Salad
Judy: Flank Steak
Lori S.: Entree--chicken salad with grapes
Chris: dessert
Lori M.: Grilled Chicken
Pauline: Veggies to grill, fruit salad
Kathi & Bob: Black Bean Dip and Chips
Mina: Dessert
Joyce: Veggie Burgers, side dish and husband

Dick, Kate and I will provide drinks and before picnic munchies/appetizers, condiments and paper goods.


DC Festival Scrapbook

The DC Festival was a great learning experience. Although we never crossed the finish line first, we learned a lot about ourselves individually and about competing as a team. Please feel free to post your "most memorable moment" or lessons-learned here. If anyone has digital photos from the weekend, please send them on to me and I can post them here.

Many thanks to our ad hoc team members: Roxanne and Ann, from Schuykill; Michelle, Arlene, and Tiki from Killer Guppies (LA); Alevana from DC; and, of course, Ivan from New York City.

Pauline really held us together all weekend, and we are all immensely grateful for her patience and leadership. Ben drove through the night to get to us, and we all appreciate his commitment to us and his willingness to occasionally give us the kick-in-the-butt that we need.

A huge paddle cheer to all the Paddlefish on our first travel team race experience!!!


Paddlefish Lexicon

Want to speak Paddlefish?

Calls from Referees/Starter:• "Attention Please" -- followed within 5 seconds (I believe) by a gun or "Go!" to start the race
• "Lane x, you are past the line, back it down" or "All boats, move up to the line/start", etc: calls at the start of the race to align the boats
• Warning calls during a race "Lane x get back in your lane": a command directed at the cox/steersperson
• False start calls at the beginning of a race: this is for the drummer or cox (whoever is 'in charge of the boat') - they can then issue the "let it run" command for the boat

All hands on the boat: On land -- everyone grabs a part of the boat and lifts; used in putting boat into water or taking it out

Left side, push off: Paddlers on the dock side of the boat use the ends of their paddles to push away from the dock (together)

Paddles up: Ready to catch; full body lean, back toward the shore, lower arm straight, upper elbow slightly bent above or near the head; with the tip of the blade just above the water and in front of the handle.

Ready ready: Exaggerated form of paddles-up, with blade of paddle buried in the water (pinky finger of fist should be wet -- arm pit should be just barely above the side of the boat); this is the start position

Starting 6: 6 full strokes to get the boat moving; keep together, following the stroke

Build 5: moves the speed of the boat (not necessarily of the stroke rate) up: each stroke incrementally "harder"

Power 10 (or 20): Everything into it. 100% effort.

Finish: 110% -- go beyond using it up and keep going. We're in the finish portion of the race (we are not done yet!).

Take it away: Start paddling.

Hold the boat: Paddles straight down into the water, blades buried, at your hip, perpendicular to the boat.

Draw: Pull the boat to one side with the paddle.

Back it up (or back it down): Done together and snappily -- paddle backwards!

Front 3: the 6 people who are on the first three benches of the boat.

Back 3: the 6 people who are on the steersperson end of the boat

Engine Room: the middle three-four rows or six paddlers (rows 4-7 in the boat).

Let it run: Our favorite. Paddles out of the water, resting across our laps. Good time to reach for the water bottle.

Catch: last phase of the recovery before start of stroke when the blade is buried in the water. The bottom hand snaps the blade forward from the release (blade exit by hip), the top hand drives the blade into the water at the catch.
Sit up: stroke motion - key that it is NOT the arms that perform the stroke, it’s the sitting up and uncoiling of the body that move the boat.

Snap to the catch or "Snap the bottom hand": signal to get to the catch quickly snapping out the bottom hand from the exit of the paddle at the end of the stroke

Rotation: rotation from the hips during recovery which sets up the body and paddle for the catch

Reach or "Reach it out": sets body up for catch. This does not mean collapse the body - body should be supported by back and ab muscles

Stroke: the paddler in the first bench, either on the left or right, who sets the pace of the boat

Drummer: drum beat signals the catch of the stroke which should be more motivating to drive the top hand down rather than relying on this for timing! Drummer sets the beat off of the stroke, rather than the other way around. Changes in stroke rate are communicated to the stroke directly.

Steersperson or cox: Like a classic VW, we keep the real power in the back of our vehicle. The steersperson keeps the boat on course and coordinates control with the drummer.

Timing: Is everything. Think of dancing, think of sex: move with the people on the boat.

General note on commands:
• Any changes in stroke rate/power are preceded by an explanation of the change, then a call of when it will happen e.g. "Take it up for a power 10 in three...one...two...three... right here"
• On the water, and when pushing off a descriptive command should be given first and then the execution command: e.g. "Ready to lift, and lift" or "Ready to shove, and shove"


Here is an update on the uniforms - this afternoon they should be airmailed overnight UPS to the hotel. If customs cooperates, which is never certain they should arrive Friday, if not they did try.
Remember to bring a white short-sleeved t-shirt just in case.

DC Race Schedule

The 250 meter races are being run on Saturday, the 500s on Sunday. Our current schedule for Saturday includes an initial Out of Town Teams heat (race #13) at 1:24 in lane 2, paddling against our neighbors, Steel City. We then move to the semi-finals and will paddle in either the 3:24 race or the 3:40 race.

Saturday's finals for Out of Town Teams are held at 5:00 and 5:12 PM.

The 500 meter races are run on Sunday. Our first heat is at 11:42 AM, with the semi-final race being held at either 2:15 or 2:30.

Sunday's finals will be at 4:00 or 4:15.

We will have a team meeting after our last race on Sunday!


Getting Ready

We've got a race plan, an itinerary, and visualization orders. (Pain is temporary; pride lasts forever.) We're ready to have a great race in DC this weekend! Pauline has emailed us a comprehensive set of instructions and a working schedule for the weekend. If you haven't received a copy of that document, please send an email to someone on the team and he or she will be happy to forward it to you.

Today's weather is looking a little grim for practice tonight. Keep an eye on the waterflow at TRRA's Weather & Waterflow page.


Lake Arthur, April 2004 Posted by Hello


Take Us to the River

We've paddled on the Allegheny ("la belle riviere," our home), the Monongahela, and the Ohio Rivers -- and Lake Arthur. Next week we'll add the Potomac to our list of rivers paddled.

Some team members are interested in learning how to kayak. TRRA is running a Kayaking 101 class for members on May 29th and June 5th.


Random Thoughts

I'm not sure how or whether this can work to thread comments and discussion. I suspect that if we post responses to one of these sorts of posts, then the comments will be collected in attachment with this post, which is a sort of threading.

I'm getting excited about the trip to DC -- not so much for the competition angle of it (though our practice times this week were good, I think) but for the general fun of going to the event and spending time with each other.

Wouldn't it be lovely if the hotel had a whirlpool?



Welcome to Pittsburgh Paddlefish, home blog to the dragon boat team affiliated with the Three Rivers Rowing Association. We are a diverse (some might say motley) group bonded through our appreciation of teamwork, river water, sore muscles, and an occasional beer or two. We are coached by Ben Ledewitz, captained by Kit Ayars, and steered by Chuck Lyon.

We are actively recruiting new members. No prior boating experience is required. If it’s your first time on a dragon boat, we will give you a step-by-step introduction aimed at getting you paddling on the water safely and quickly. You just need to come prepared to work up a little sweat, get a little wet, and have a lot of fun!

Our on-the-water training starts in early April and ends in November; we practice three times a week (Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:30 PM; Saturday mornings at 9 AM). Over the winter, we keep up a three/week schedule but work out indoors at TRRA's Millvale Boathouse facility.

For the 2005 season, we sent representatives to the New York City indoor paddling sprints. We traveled to Washington DC in May and competed in the DC Dragon Boat Festival and to Toronto, ON, for the Toronto International Dragon Boat Festival. Three of our paddlers have been selected for the US Team traveling to Berlin, Germany, to compete in the Grand Masters Division of the World Dragon Boat Championships in August.

To find out more about the Pittsburgh Paddlefish, and see how you can get started, contact Lisa Kennard, our Membership Director, at paddlesup@verizon.net .