On Sept. 18, the Cardinals participated in the Kaiser Permanente International Dragon Boat Festival at Treasure Island. The teams’ three mixed gender crews — the Lowell Crewzers (Boat A), Red Tide (Boat B), and Big Red C (Boat C) — competed in the race, along with the female gender crew, the Lowellitas, and the male boat, the Lowell Riders. Four of the teams’ boats took first place: the Lowellites, Riders, Crewzers, and Big Red C. The Red Tide placed fourth in the B Division. This was the first time in seven years that the Lowell Riders won the gold.
The Lowell Riders grasped their win with more than a second-long lead over Lincoln High Gold. Last September, the Riders were only 0.24 seconds away from a win in the same race. Coach Brian Danforth said that junior steerer Tony Lin led a great finish. “We were pretty sure we would need a long efficient finish to have a chance, and as it turned out, the strategy worked perfectly,” Danforth said.
Senior Rider Gordon Deng expressed his joy in the teams’ achievements. “This years’ race at Treasure Island was nothing short of amazing,” he said. “Every year the competition gets tighter and tighter. I am extremely proud of Lowell Dragon Boat.”
According to coach Danforth, the Lowell riders had won gold in 2001; however, the Riders had to borrow two paddlers from Crystal Springs Uplands School to fill in for two spots on the boat, so solely Cardinal paddlers did not achieve the win. In 2004, the Cardinals also won the male championship, but Danforth said that the team was not able to compete against Lincoln, considered a top team, due to a limited numbers of spots; therefore their win was not a true representation of Lowell’s abilities in the male gender division.
Senior Group Leader Jimmy Yang was glad to have been able to compete against Lincoln this year. “It was great day to be out in the sun competing against the best of the best,” he said.
The victories of the Lowellitas and Crewzers were their second wins in two years. “I am totally proud of my teammates and all of our crews. We worked really hard,” junior Lowellita Vicky Guan said. Sunday was an extraordinary race day.
Lowell’s C Boat, mainly comprised of freshmen and sophomores, also dominated its race. The Boat beat the Washington Grays by a whole seven seconds. “The intensity of a single race was a lot, but with the whole team cheering you on it’s really fun, exciting and awesome,” freshman Big Red C paddler Alec Fong said.
Group leader Elizabeth Kim expressed her satisfaction that the younger team strived for winning. “We are so proud of the newbies, too,” Kim said.
Despite the Lowellites’ victory at Treasure Island, nothing in the succeeding season in guaranteed. “We can have personnel changes, you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Danforth said. “A fifth mix title would be nice, but no one can predict [it] at this point.” Moreover, in addition to Lincoln, the school’s nemesis, Mission is also an up-an-coming team, placing third overall in the mix and male gender divisions, along with second in the female division at Treasure Island.
With Lincoln and Mission also fighting for the gold, junior Kevin Tran said, “Our rivals will be immensely hungry to defeat us next year.”
Until the next season in mid-February, dragon boaters are conditioning under group leaders three days a week. “The challenge is to stay hungry, and to keep training hard,” Danforth said.
At the moment, the team has seventy-seven members, according to Coach Danforth. “Dragon boat is growing fast, and there are so many people, the new and the old, enthusiastic about paddling and getting better,” senior Rider Gordon Deng said.
Lowell’s next race will be held in April at Lake Merced, time and date have yet to be confirmed.
A version of this article first appeared in the Oct. 7, 2011 print edition of The Lowell.