Dragon Boating 2008: Real Victors

The main dragon boat racing competition for this year’s season in Taiwan came to an end on Sunday, June 8. It was feelings of both sadness and contentment that I walked away from the event. I was sad that the festival was coming to a close for another year and content with the performance of our team though our mixed and men’s team were knocked out of the competition on Saturday, the second day of the event.

Our results were pretty impressive for what we had. (Mixed Open Division – 5th place; Women’s Open Division – 7th place). We did not have enough males for our mixed team and rowed with six females in our boat and did not place last in any of those races. And, if you know anything about dragon boat racing, you will appreciate those results.

Our team comprised mainly former members of the National Taiwan Normal University Mandarin Training Centre (Shida) team and their friends. Some of our members were taking part in dragon boat racing for the first time. This year, we decided to take the bull by the horn and form our own group: Dragonriders.

Dragon Riders after Winning their first race on day 2 of competition

Everyone knows that losing in a competition is not a good feeling. However, sometimes, if we focus too much on the “loss” it clouds our vision and prevents us from seeing what we have gained. In fact, sometimes, when we think that we have lost, we have lost nothing at all.

For me, I am satisfied that the returns from participation in this years competition were a lot more than what I exerted. I have a healthier, fitter body; I have made more friends and deepened existing friendships; I have experiences and memories that will last a lifetime; I have sharpened the ability to invest my time in multiple activities, managing myself in such a way that neither of these activities suffer at the expense of the other. I have also learnt to be realistic about ones abilities and to recognize those who are better than one is, while at the same time striving for self improvement.

I am a pretty philosophical person and “Desiderata”, (Latin for “desired things”, plural of desideratum), an inspirational prose poem about attaining happiness in life, is one of the things that informs who I am.

Among other things, the poem says:

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

And that is why most — if not all of our teammates — walked away from the event happy notwithstanding the results. We recognized our strengths and our limitation and the progress that we have made during the past two months of training. For, in most instances, we were able to say we tried our best but our best was just not good enough. And for me, that is what is most important: giving of my best at all times. Had our team lost and we were not satisfied that we have tried our best then I am sure that the sentiments would not be the same.

I will like to share with you the views of Pepe Fang, one of our coordination, as expressed in an email on the last day of the competition.

Message from Pepe


To each of my most beloved Dragon Riders teammate, greetings:


This is Pepe. I am sorry to ask you to exert yourself and try to understand my Chinese. Yesterday, our mixed and mens team competition came to an end and the feeling is really not a nice one. Two months of tiring training has come to an end. Of course, we still have the Bitan races next week and the Shilin races the week thereafter. We have to continue to give our best until the end. Below, I have written about my reflections and the knowledge gained while training with you all during the last two months. The competition was really great!!!


I have told Nao before that since I met and started dating him, I have experience for myself many things for the first time, the most special of which is dragon boating. Many of my friend said that I am crazy to get up every morning after five oclock just to row dragon boat. I had to, at the same time, attend dragon boat training, go to classes, do a heap of school assignments, and, go to my part time job; therefore, I was very, very tired during the past two months. I constantly thought that I would collapse from tiredness. However, because I have you guys, I constantly bolstered myself. Dragon boating is not a one person sport. If we did not have you joining forces it would have been impossible to get to where we reached yesterday!


Additionally, Noa, Kazu and I were the ones responsible for managing many of the affairs of our team and I therefore even more clearly know that this is not an easy affair. I also understand why Noa shed tears when we lost yesterday. We love dragon boating so much. From thinking of ways to find people to make the team; training at the Shida track; collecting everyones information and registering the team; designing the team banner, uniform and T-shirt; our training at Dajia bridge since May; our participation in the eye-dotting ceremony, going to each place to buy our team gear; unceasingly keeping in contact with everyone, informing them of important issues, I was very busy but I was also happy.


I also know that my temperament is not the best and I often got angry at or spoke loudly to you. I am really sorry about this. Thank you for tolerating me during the last two months. Finally, I want to say to each person the contents of my heart:

謝謝KAZU ,因為你的熱愛龍舟,我們的騎龍隊才能誕生!

Thank you Kazu, Our Dragonriders team was born out of your passion for dragon boating!

謝謝東龍 ,你的划槳方式天下無敵!

Thank you Dong Long: your rowing skills are second to none!

謝謝DAIKI ,你可是我們的一匹黑馬唷,年輕人果然就是不一樣!

Thank you Diki: You’re our dark horse; I know that there is something special about young people.

謝謝NAO ,因為你帶我進入龍舟的世界,還包容我的所有一切!

Thank you Nao: you brought me into the world of dragon boating and are very tolerant of me

謝謝TAKANA ,因為有你,我們的體重才能平均(哈哈哈哈哈)!

Thank you Takana: Because of your bodyweight everything leveled off (ha ha ha ha ha)!

謝謝AKIKO ,你的模仿搞笑功力真的很棒!

謝謝KAORI ,你總是很貼心的提醒大家應該怎麼划!

Thank you Kaori: You invariably very gently reminded everyone of the correct way to paddle.

謝謝MICHIKO,你的奪標跟揮隊旗的英姿我不會忘的,武士後代果然不同凡 響!

謝謝雷恩 ,一個月的感冒真的辛苦你了,請好好的養病!

謝謝品彥 ,每天安全地帶香織一起來練習!

謝謝阿布 ,你的玩笑總能讓大家開懷大笑!

謝謝AJ ,比賽時你的髮型真的太酷了!

Thank you AJ: Your hairstyle during the competition was too cool!

謝謝康特 ,一邊練習龍舟一邊趕報告辛苦你了!

謝謝洪 ,你真的很體貼,還是我的開心果哦!

謝謝AI ,你做給大家的幸運繩我會好好珍藏的!

謝謝WENDY ,你的加入讓我們的隊伍像是吃下ㄧ顆定心丸!

謝謝MASA ,你的鼓聲跟加油聲還一直在我耳邊唷!

謝謝EMI ,因為你跟我們一起堅持到最後一刻!

謝謝逸龍 ,因為你的掌舵,我們的船才能暢行無阻,直達終點!

謝謝佳珊 ,充當我們的臨時「救火隊!


Actually, there are many things in my heart that I would like to say, my words of gratitude are many but I have no way of writing everything. My many friends cannot understand why I would risk life and limb to row dragon boat; maybe they think that dragon boating is very boring but I think that it is very worthwhile! I can only say that I am very happy that I joined the Dragonriders team, happy that I met each of you, happy that I trained together with you everyday, happy that I could join you in showing the best of yourself during the competition. I will never forget these things for the rest of my life. Thank you everyone! I love you all!

From Pepe 2008.06.08


4 thoughts on “Dragon Boating 2008: Real Victors

  1. Kenton, what an awesome (i.e. wonderfully sentimental and profound) literary piece here! :-) Many thanks for re-creating the best moments of Dragonboat 2008. I will surely miss the 6:30 am practices……Until next year!

  2. Kenton, this is very nice and I love what you write there. especially this quote ” if we focus too much on the “loss”, it clouds our vision and prevents us from seeing what we have gained “. I love the spirit you have there, encouragement and I love the video. Thank you my friend, brother and my team. Go dragonriders. I am waiting for 2009 dragonboat. I am waiting for friendship activity, teamwork, feeling sad and glory together, frienship last forever.

  3. But….

    We are going to kick ass this year!!!

    Drangonriders 2009!!

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