The team has a documented win-loss record dating back to summer 2005, when they won first place in the College Division at the Viewsonic Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival. In the years after that, they’ve placed first at Arizona in 2008, California Dragon Boat Association College Championship (an annual race in northern California) in Division C, and again at “Summer Long Beach” in Division B. The team has a total of fifteen other placements ranging from second to fourth. Their fastest documented race time is just less than two minutes, which Chi admits is “like impossible for [the] team, honestly.” He goes on to explain what could have allowed the team to achieve this time—“It’s ‘cause…the distance wasn’t done properly, the lanes weren’t set up correctly, so our time wasn’t accurate. But honestly, I really don’t care about time; it’s just all about how the boat feels. It’s all relative.” As recently as the last school year, Elements was driven by a mindset completely different from the kind that the team currently lives by. Chi proudly states, “Finally, last quarter, we got to a place where it’s not all about winning and that was a huge attitude problem—people had the mindset of ‘win or quit.’ It was a disease. Last quarter, we came together, we didn’t come out on top but people enjoyed the race.” He works hard to maintain this outlook, but as with every other aspect of dragon boat, it’s got to be a team effort. Everyone must share this feeling to sustain the positive, but dedicated attitude that attributes to a healthy foundation of any team effort. Yvonne Lau’s beliefs reflect this. “I just love the feeling of working out in general. It always feels great to see the improvement from both myself and from my teammates over several weeks of practice.” She says of competitions, “All races are the same to me because we’re basically going through the same motions that we do during practice. The only differences between races are the category we race in, such as college division, mixed division, genders, etc. or the length of the race—sprints of 250 meters or the typical length of 500 meters.” But Yvonne draws us away from the technical aspects of competing. “My favorite times with the team are during races because they’re just really amazing experiences with bonding with the team and spending time with them. My personal most memorable one was during my first year with CADB and second race with them at Tempe, Arizona…it was just something that I’ve never experienced before since it was such a different environment and it felt like taking a vacation with the team. We bonded so much during that race and had so many memories from [it].” When asked about some more disappointing moments of racing, she said, “We’ve had race pieces here and there that were disappointing, like when the boat feels heavy throughout the race.” Despite this fact, she still loves “the positive and encouraging atmosphere of dragon boat because everybody is working together to haul one huge boat at the same time.”
|CADB boat runs dryland drill at 'Summer Long Beach', Aug 2009|
An Elements rower signs a paddleat year-end banquet, May 2009
These small, but significant gestures of camaraderie are demonstrated outside the boat as well, but on a larger scale. The team goes on a retreat once a year—in the past, they have gone camping, paintballing, and indoor rock-climbing. Socials such as ice skating or game night are held as well and at least part of the team almost always goes out to grab a bite after practice. The team is comprised of about 100 members, with 50 active paddlers. Although it is composed primarily of Asian students, CADB has had rowers of all kinds of heritages, including foreign exchange students. The team isn’t predominantly Chinese or Asian merely because dragon boat is a sport with Chinese roots; in fact, Justin Chi states, “It’s really funny because we have had no emphasis on culture… I just want it to be seen as a family." Megan Wu, one of three team captains, reflects on what she loves about the team. "..this team means so much more to me than just any team-related or social club. This team is my family. I feel like we have all become this kind of odd strange cohesive unit. Everyone on this team has their own unique quirky personality, but it’s that we are able to accept each other for exactly who we are. This team has become my support system, knowing that I can always come out to practice have a good time and leave everything on the water makes me feel better about any situation. And from joining this team, I’ve been able to make some of my closest friends. I would have missed out on so many life changing experiences, if it wasn’t for CADB." Understandably, her words may be mistaken for a warm, gooey cliche, but Wu draws her feelings from reminiscing her days of being on a very close-knit swim team, and to her, it's definitely not the same. "It’s knowing that when you’re paddling in the boat that everyone else is right there with you, doing the exact same thing at the exact same time...the feeling that all 22 people in the boat are working towards one common goal. I think what’s special about this team is not that we get together every weekend to practice, but that we spend time with each other off the water.” Yvonne agrees that “[The] most memorable moments with CADB are at retreats, races, and the random times we hang out with each other. I love how we randomly have all these inside jokes with each other.” One of the most rewarding things about UC Irvine's dragon boat team is undoubtedly the friendships to be had with dozens others who are all connected by one common interest—and that is paddling.
-CADB Elements Team Website: http://db.cauci.com/