We've just been falling apart since Del left. He quit, and we all decided to quit too. We had somehow made him solely responsible for our success. Completely demoralized, attendance at practices dropped to 50%. Our confidence had suffered a lethal blow. We spent our hour on the water in a muddled state of disorganization, confusion and self-pity. How could our coach desert us in the middle of the season? What would we do now? How would we win? Unhindered by old patterns, newer members tried to rally the team's enthusiasm. But they were ignored and quickly fell into silence. We had become our own biggest obstacle.
A dragonboat is made up of twenty paddlers, one cox and one drummer. The fastest boats are a study in synchronicity. Every paddler moves in tandem, completely trusting each other. Blades hover above the water, twenty paddles CATCH and EXPLODE backwards, exit, arc forward, and CATCH again. Over and over again in perfect harmony. It can be beautiful to watch.
A boat out of sync is painful to watch - like an awkward teenager - all limbs, bravado and bad skin, paddles flaring out, water splashing everywhere. With twenty paddlers fighting each other for the same piece of water, the boat surges, bumps and spins, going nowhere fast. A five hundred metre race can feel like a lifetime - the start exhausting, the middle arduous, and the finish desperate.
This is where we were. In just three short weeks, we had totally discounted nine months of training, both on and off the water. We had lost faith in each other, and in ourselves. We were completely out of sync.