We had Labor Day week and weekend off after Owensboro, which meant we had just enough time to rest a bit, do laundry, get used to a regular diet again, clean boats and PFDs, fix equipment, etc. Then, we prepared for Nashville.
It’s a fun race, benefiting The Cumberland River Compact, but logistics can be tough. Unloading the boats in and then loading them back is challenging. There is a roughly 16-foot drop off at the edge of Riverfront Park in downtown. We use a large wrecker with a far-reachibg boom. One person uses a very long line at the bow, while someone is balancing the boat at the stern as well. At the bottom, in the (shallow) water, someone is standing to get the boat and detach the lifting mechanism we use to lift the boats. I’m always grateful no one gets hurt when we unload boats, especially in Nashville. Of course, I was the one who hurt myself when we loaded the boats. (Just a very large bruise that took a long time to heal. No big deal). We managed the unload and load in good time – less than an hour each time.
Practice week went very well. So many people in Nashville love this event. They bring enthusiasm and competition. For example, the team from South Africa had a ringer fly in from San Diego. The Rugby team fields two teams. Belmont University medals every year and many other teams are strong. Everyone scopes their competitors and then brings their best on race day.
Meeting some incredibly nice owners of a huge, multi-million dollar yacht docked nearby was one of the most interesting things that happened during the week. We saw the yacht, of course, and were invited the first night to meet the owners who build hotels for a living. We were a little hesitant initially, because we had gotten caught in a big rain storm. We were completely soaked. The insisted we come aboard. We were greeted by staff with large towels and friendly personalities. About six of us mingled for a few hours with the staff and the yacht owners who were so excited about seeing their first dragon boat race. They had an excellent view of the finish line on race day. Also, four of the yacht’s staff paddled on some of the teams. They had a blast.
You never know who you might meet in the world of dragon boat racing.