Rowers move to the beat
Jennifer Gish, Times Union, 6/25/2014
Stab the water. Throw yourself onto the paddle. Reach.
A lot of exercise is billed as giving you a chance to refocus, to release the monkey chattering away in your brain about home improvement projects you should really get to or what you’re going to do with your kids all summer when school is out. But mastering the technique of dragonboating, stabbing the end of the paddle blade perpendicular to the water’s surface, means you really don’t have time to think about anything else.
The boat stops for a moment so your fellow dragonboaters can point out the bald eagle nest hovering in a tree framing the Mohawk River on a warm, still day. And then, you just think this is a beautiful way to spend a summer evening.
You’re sitting in a boat housing 20 rowers, and the steady rhythm of a drummer perched near the dragon’s head fills the space between the person giving directions from the stern. You feel like you’re in some beautiful opening scene of a movie, the swish of paddles hitting the water providing nature’s soft soundtrack as you try out the sport with Dragons Alive, a dragonboating club that operates out of the Mohawk Valley Marine in Alplaus. It’s one of two in the area, including Hope in the Boat in Cohoes, a club of breast cancer survivors, which is where the sport in this part of the world found its roots.