On Saturday 10th September 2016, a team of intrepid volunteers defied the rain and blustery weather to compete in the Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival 2016 in aid of ACT (Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust). Proudly representing Horizon Discovery, in their branded t-shirts, were our 11 person team who, unlike several of the more experienced teams, gave an excellent account of themselves in the inclement conditions and managed to stay afloat throughout.
With 46 teams involved, including several from other local biotech industry companies such as Astra Zeneca and Illumina, the Horizon G-Nomes, a team of 5 gallant girls and 6 brave blokes, faced tough competition. For most of our team it was not only their first outing at a Dragon Boat festival, but also their first opportunity to row as a team. Fortunately the steering was provided by Gable events, the festival organisers!
First Heat - A Flying Start!
In their first of three heats (Heat 9), the Horizon G-Nomes were drawn against teams from Oil & Gas Systems Ltd (Blazing Paddles), SOP International Ltd (Savage Old Pirates) and Booking.com (Booking Battleship). After a brief coaching lesson on their way to the start line the Horizon G-Nomes kicked of their campaign with a superb start, leaving the other three boats standing and opening up a ½ length lead by the first third of the course. However, despite a good rhythm and consistent effort, their unpractised technique and lack of stamina soon told meaning that the other teams were right back in contention. With a tremendous late effort the G-Nomes hung on to win their first heat in 67.05 seconds. Despite winning this was a fairly average time when compared with other heats. It was certainly a great start to the day and gave our crew motivation to do better in their next race.
Second Heat - A More Difficult Challenge
After lunch, in their second heat (Heat 24), the G-Nomes lined up to go to battle against impressive opposition from Thomas Ridley Foodservice (Ridley’s Tigers) and Libra Ltd (Libra). In this second race however the crew were joined by Phillipe in place of the retired Heather. Sadly, their excellent start from the first race was not repeated in the second heat and with a tough outside draw meant that the Horizon crew faced a more difficult challenge. The G-Nomes stayed in contention throughout the race with just over a second between the teams at the finish, however unfortunately they came third despite posting an improved time of 66.14 seconds.
Instead of dwelling on the result, the Horizon G-Nomes, focused on their success of beating their previous time, setting themselves the challenging target of a sub-60 second run for their final heat. Having just recently seen three teams capsize, the pressure was on to achieve a better result whilst maintaining stability.
Final Heat - The Power of Teamwork
In their final heat (Heat 36), the opposition came from Illumina (The Next Generators) and Team Consulting (Team-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 & 2). It looked like the G-Nomes would be facing their toughest challenge yet with one of their competitors in the top 5 after the earlier heats. Undaunted, the G-Nomes made a clean start in the middle of the river. With heads down and shouting their stroke timing louder than ever, the Horizon crew proved that they can deliver great team work and a phenomenal effort, managing to stay in contention throughout the race. However, as they approached the line the battle came to a head as the team faced a potential collision with the Team-age Mutant Ninja Turtles 1. Undaunted by the clashing oars with their vastly improved technique, like a well-oiled machine the G-Nomes pulled a dragon’s head in front to grab their second heat win, surprising many who had written them off before the race.
As the final heat of the day many of the other teams were nervously awaiting the result having just seen the heat outsiders deliver a near faultless performance. Their best time by some margin of 62.53 showed just how hard the team had worked, shaving nearly 4 seconds off their previous time and putting them in contention for a final place.
In spite of their dramatic improvement, and beating higher placed competition, the combined two best times required to determine the semi-finalists meant that the G-Nomes missed out on a place by a single second. The Horizon crew, although disappointed not to continue their run, bowed out in style by winning 2 out of 3 of their heats and were one of the few teams to better their time in each race. In the final standings, the Horizon G-Nomes came a creditable 18th overall and 7th of the mixed gender teams.
Well done to all involved, especially the event winners, Turner and Townsend (Turntanic), the event organisers, Gable events, and Star radio who did a great job keeping everyone informed. Everyone seemed to have a really enjoyable day in spite of the weather and over £18,000 was raised for a really worthwhile cause. No doubt, the G-Nomes will be back next year to build on their great achievement.
To get involved or for For more information see the Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival
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