NZ National Championships, Lake Hood, Ashburton - 19/20 March 2016

Linda Ashton (aka The Pink Panther) presents her first slice of life with BWL

Ok, so coach says pack for the bitter cold, it will be bitter and when you’re wet you will be cold. DO AS YOU ARE TOLD!

Packed to the brim with thermals …. I’m ready!

Friday 18th March. We start filtering through to the Auckland airport pulling behind us our little “houses “ (well, they felt like heavy bricks to be fair, all that thermal gear! ) As our flight numbers rolled up on the big screens SOME of us boarded, SOME of us had to stay behind … flight cancellations, oh bugger! What next, drink more coffee? So as SOME of the team travelled down to Christchurch, we gathered together in the airport talking and waiting for the others to arrive. All phones go off, text from the “leader” it reads "2nd attempt to get to you all but flight again cancelled." I can feel a movie sequel about to break out, “The Terminal 2" starring (part of the team) Busting With Life!!. While this is going on other team members who had earlier flights that day were also being cancelled and a back log started to develop, OMG! Friday ended a bit like this…..SOME of us got into our awaiting vans - SOME of us went food shopping - SOME of us arrived at Methven - and SOME of us had first choice of the beds!! and the remaining team arrived in Methven at 10.15pm. A very VERY lonnnng day stuck in an airport. Sleep was totally on the agenda that night, zzzzzzz……

Saturday 19th March….ding dong….ding dong..5.30am alarm bells going off, dam it - no sleep in. Light from the kitchen shines through the gap of the bedroom door and the noise of the water pressure from a tap fills the kettle reminding us there is no time to sleep in. Four women get up, so organized in getting ready, a bit like watching synchronized swimming, PERFECTO! Head count from the coach and load the 3 vans with team and gear for the day and we’re off. Morning was a tad cool but the day was just unfolding. We arrived at Lake Hood and as the sun began to rise, its orange glow reflected onto the still waters - awesome, romantic almost……no time for that! We have a job to do, so let’s do it. “Accommodation” for the weekend event was grand, felt like you were about to enter a sheiks tent; no camels in sight though, just rows of pristine white peak tents with white picket fences for the entrance - outstanding! Today’s races were 500metre in 20 and 10 man boats. 5 BC teams entered (Busting With Life one of them). A light breeze developed first thing and as the day went on the breeze turned to strong gusty winds causing chaos at the start line. Sweeps calling “back paddle..hold..back paddle…hold, forward….back paddle," just trying to keep the boat in a good starting position and with keen-eager paddlers ready to, frustrating! Tough competition, team strength and loads of dedication. All teams had the ability to win, and all teams did win but there were those teams that did exceptionally well and they were the winners on the day. Busting With Life were only seconds away, literally, seconds away to winning medals. We achieved personal bests in the 500metre 10 man boat sprint. All the other teams were supportive of each other on land but on the water… could see the strength in the faces as the paddles went in longer and harder, faster and faster, pure adrenalin pumping stuff, truly a sight to see. Prize giving for the day's winners and we loaded into our vans off to a dinner function that was kindly sponsored by the NZ Breast Cancer Association. We were assigned to tables, napkins marked with our team colour and sat next to other BC teams. We talked and laughed about our past and previous races, some handy tips to take on board. Dinner was delicious (better cause we didn’t have to cook it!) and dessert just filled us to our brims. A guest speak from a BC team spoke on recruitment - well, what a laugh a real hoot! The lengths to “embrace” a new member to come on board is harder than what you think!. Time to go, so we loaded our weary bodies with full tums in the vans back to Methven to unpack and re-pack our gear bags and “houses" for day 2 of race day. A quick cuppa and heads on pillows ZZzzzzzzzzzzzz……

Sunday 20th March (last race day, boohoo ) ….Bing…bong, buzz….buzz…musictunes from alarms5.30am wakeup call………Quick wake up sleepy head in room 4. Chaos - headless chickens - flapping wings and loose feathers going everywhere! Quick showers scoff breakfast down; collect the bathroom stuff and skull a cuppa tea. Check the rooms for any left behinds - Nah, all good. Head count and load up the vans with bodies and gear bags (don’t get the 2 mixed) and “houses" made of bricks! 2000metre race 1st up (due to the gusty winds the day before). Followed by 200metre 20 and 10 man races. The 10 man race was carried out in a 20 man boat! Totally different dynamics involved. Wind and weight take a big part and knowing how quickly things can change in a flash on the water all eyes ahead and ears turned on. The races were thrilling to be in as well as to watch. All ages of people participated from teens to the more “matures”. It was an honour (to me) that we paddled amongst the great ones, just amazing. Busting With Life, we came, we saw, we paddled our little hearts out - pat on the back to all. A raffle was drawn on the last night of prize giving. Our wonderful coach won the prize and the team cheered and clapped. The prize was a carbon fibre paddle - CONGRATS COACH!. We packed up yet again, this time for the last time of the season. Said our goodbyes and headed for Christchurch to the motel. Lucky for us a restaurant was on site so we booked a table for around 20 of us. Tummies full again we disbursed to our rooms. Got ready for bed and a quick chin wag about the weekends event. We all had a great time, and we all needed to head off to bed early to catch our flights in the morning and throughout the day. No big delays this time and soon we were all back in Auckland to the “rat race" of the day to day issues, basically hitting the ground running. To sum up the weekend’s event, Busting With Life is a team with heart and soul. We care, we strive and best of all, we gel….like chewing gum to a shoe or wax to paddles and other places! We are ready and waiting for the new season to start, roll on summer cause we are “busting" to get back on the water.