The Renegades put together their strongest effort to date, taking first place honors in the C division at Paddle for Life in Foster City.  Competing with 28 teams from around the Bay Area, we were involved in some extremely tight races, 2 requiring photo finishes.

Wearing well-earned bling (left to right): Deedra, Daly City Mayor Michael Guingona, Nina, Susan, Aileen, Emily, Mike, Stacy, Monica, Gerry, Dana, Pearl, Rocky, Jane, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, Dana

Saturday was a pretty good day.  It started out like a lot of other summer days around here, foggy, rainy, windy, cold…..just enough drizzle for my desiccated windshield wipers to craft a truly distracting Rorschach and then it kind of stayed that way for a while.  The sun did finally come out but I’d rather talk about the food.  The soup and chilly were wonderful as only Dana and his posse can pull off, muffins, sandwiches, fruit up the ying yang, bedeviled eggs, salad, Susie’s pork in a pan, potato salad, cookies, Emily’s magic beans and a bunch of other good stuff.

We also raced and did so in the newer Swift Boats which are one of the brands slowly replacing the old German BUKs which are no longer manufactured.  The Swifts are light and tippy as Hell, you sneeze without covering and over you go but there was no trouble to report.

In our first race, we got a pretty good start and jumped out in front of two of the boats right away but the third was ahead after our 12 up up strokes and managed to hold onto the lead giving us a close 2nd place.  Our timing looked good, we held technique all the way and kept the boat up and running strong but they had 6 men and 4 women on their boat to our 3 men and 7 women and we just couldn’t catch them.  That was a situation we faced in all of our races.

Our second race was handicapped by some mathematically challenged old drummer losing count on the start strokes and our steersperson having to make a course correction near the finish.  It looked really close to me but according to the official race timer, we were 2 seconds behind for another 2nd place.  We were 4 seconds slower than our first race and I attribute all of that extra time to the problems we had, without which, I’m confident that we would have won by a second or so.  We ran another strong race with lots of Renegades heart but because of my bad count at the start, they jumped out to an early lead and held it for the first half of the race.  We dragoned up and pushed passed them by 4′ – 5′ just before the “finish it now” but then the course correction happened and it added 7′ or 8′ to our path and they scooted out in front for the win.

The average of our 2 race times put us in the C Division final (A thru G Divisions) and up against some pretty good teams including Chlorox who had trained with us at Lake Merritt.  Looking around from the drummer’s chair at the start line, it was evident that the other 3 teams had stacked their rosters with the maximum number of men allowed.  We had the Rock, Big Gerry and Dangerous Dana on board but in all reality, it’s difficult to defeat teams with significantly more men so I suspected we were in for a bumpy ride.  I knew Al had been training people hard but I wasn’t convinced that we could beat these younger, lighter, male dominated teams……and then the horn went off.  I almost got thrown off the drummer’s chair and I struggled to recover, to keep the beat going.  When I looked up, I saw nothing but elbows and grit, 20 eyes screaming, “bring it!”……3 tough old dudes and 7 iron jawed women…..nobody taking any shit……no prisoners.  There’s a reason why defeated armies used to be more afraid of wives and camp followers after a battle and I’m telling you, you did not want to be standing in the way of the Renegades women at this moment.  Chlorox had a great start and  was out in front of us by 8′ at the halfway mark, looking good and with a lot of muscle on their boat.  We were moving long and strong, keeping the pace, timing good, technique good, running our race………..determination etched into the faces of our 10….no let up…..all you got.  Slowly, inches at first, we began to move up on them.  I could hear their drummer screaming for power, more power but still we came….now feet….the finish line buoys coming up fast.  Bermie was screaming “finish it now” and I echoed it and the boat lurched forward…..power and conditioning….power and conditioning……power and conditioning……and then it was 3’…..then 2’…..and now 1’…..and at the finish it was all about power and conditioning and technique and all about the Renegades by a nose.

Now, that was a pretty good day.

Mike

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