And The Winner Is . . .

2019 Dragonboat Races!! Perfect weather. 2018 Championship is on the line.

Date of Beatdown:

 Sunshine, Brownbag, El Red Cardo, Headgear, Quaker, Skidmark, Corkscrew, Mayhem, Humpback,Bonzo (2.0), Studebaker, Billboard, Goldberg, Bigwheels, Cubby, Hamburglar, Colonel Sanders, Rubber, Nip Tuck, Weedeater, Texas Ranger,

 5 minutes before race time, Brownbag circled us up and gave an inspirational pre-race pep talk which boiled down to “Focus, Focus, FOCUS!!”

The Thang That Surely Happened:
The Thang:
2019 Dragon Boat Races

Conditions: 79 degrees, sunny, slight breeze, perfect

Alternative Backblast Titles: (1) “We Were Robbed by the Myrtle Beach Police Department”; (2) “ The Thrill of Victory & The Agony of Defeat!!”; or (3) “Just the Tip”

Let’s be honest, we all signed up for the Dragonboat Race to win!! No one likes to lose, but this was a no lose situation because every dollar donated goes directly to Myrtle Beach Ground Zero and their youth focused ministries!! F3 GrandStrand & F3 Republic combined for donation of over $3,200.00 and a total of over $152,000.00 was donated to Ground Zero!!

20 dedicated HIM & one terrific 2.0 (“Bonzo”) from across Two Regions & 7 AOs stepped up to the challenge and countless others supported us through donations and encouragement.

Humpback was so dedicated, he flew in from Ohio this very morning and made it to our tent just 30 minutes before our first race!! #Dedication. (NOTE: Humpback also raised the most donations . . . just over $700.00 #Tclaps)

Brownbag did an excellent job Qing this event; it takes a lot of behind the scenes effort, constant communications and persistent push!! He stepped up to answer the call, modified when necessary, and led through example. He embodied the spirit of F3 and we are all proud and thankful for his leadership!! #Fistbump

The PAX from F3 Republic jumped right in when called upon and did an amazing job, too. We literally couldn’t have done it without them.

We had about 1/4 the team return from last year which was great to see! For Billboard and YHC, this was our 3rd year in a ‘row’ paddling!!

This was a great event & the entire day was fantasic!! The weather, the camaraderie, and the competition. We had a great mix of PAX and it was fun putting a face to some of the names we all see mentioned in the Backblasts. There were lots of interesting conversations, predictions, and premonitions (Next time you see Colonel Sanders ask him what he thought would happen at the end of the race). Rubber & Sunshine shared some classic college/concert tales (#Widespread Panic); we all got to meet and hang out with each other’s M’s & 2.0s; and next time you have some time ask Hamburglar about his California Posse, “The Monkees”, and find out why they were always asking to “ Bring out the Chimp” (think Pulp Fiction)!

The night before, during our practice time “The Colonel”, our rowing coach, gave us some words of wisdom: (1) Carb Up the Night Before; (2) Drink bottles of Coca-Cola before each race for a sugar rush; and (3) PB&J sandwiches are the perfect snack between races. Thanks Colonel but all these things go against our healthy life styles, right?? Needless to say, YHC did not see one bottle of Coke and I’m not sure too many PAX ate a bowl of pasta either, however, there were plenty of PB&J (# uncrustibles) to go around.

The day of race our menus instead included Turkey Legs at 10am; $30.00 worth of carnival treats, pizza, powerbars, and plenty of bananas (Rumor has it that there may have been an adult beverage or 2 consumed prior to the final race?).


Race #1 – Fastest time of the Day . . . 53 seconds!!!

Race #2 – The wind picked up but we had a smooth race . . .55 seconds. Our driver’s only advice was “Don’t start so fast!!”

Race #3 – This was it, “The Fittness Finals”, four powerhouse teams all with race times within 2-3 seconds of each other. Anyone could win, but the PAX of F3 had an air of confidence about us. We were not only the returning Champions, we were also the fastest team of the day. The only thing that would stop us was ourselves (focus, focus, focus).

It was time to go as we left the shoot that corralled us for the past few minutes. As we walked towards the boat, each PAX grabbed a life-vest and an oar, then we circled up on the dock for some final words from our driver, “Whatever you did the first 2 races, keep on doing it.”

After pairing up the PAX by our seating arrangement in the boat, we walked down the gang plank two by two and began loading our vessel. When the boat was loaded, Goldberg gave us some final “Get Hyped” high-fives, then we pushed away from the dock to meet our destiny.

Our practice starts as we cruised down the lake were flawless; our power strokes were on point; all that remained was to line up at the start and do what we knew we could do! (Focus, Focus, Focus).

Unlike other years, it seemed that the professionals who lined up each boat at the starting-line had a more difficult time. One stroke ahead, hold, one stroke to the side, hold, one stroke back, hold. Rinse & Repeat. Back and forth, round and round we went until the powers that be were satisfied that all 4 boats were perfectly in line.

A deep breath, oars in the water . . . GO!!

From the start, our strokes were not uniform but our shear power propelled us ahead of the other boats! By the quarter mark of the race, oars were slapping one another as each PAX tried to compensate/over compensate for missing strokes. We were still winning the race as we passed the midpoint, but our boat never raised up to plane. We got this far on pure strength and determination!!

As we furiously paddled, some PAX had to pull their oars out and try to get back into rhythm. If we would’ve had a smooth run like the two previous runs we would have been a full boat length ahead of the others by this time without a doubt, but our miscues from the beginning were growing exponentially and the awkwardness of our strokes was holding us back.

At ¾ of the run, we were still in the lead, but that lead was quickly evaporating. Could we maintain our lead? If any of our competitor could hit plane it would be hard to hold them off!!

25 meter from the finish the call for “Pull, Pull, Pull !!!!” rang out from all PAX as we tried to power our boat across the finish as we gave it all we got!! The paddles continued to slap each other, the strokes were Helter Sketler, could we hold on?? Would we hold on??

Then it happened, boat #4 (Myrtle Beach Police Department) hit plane with about 20 feet to go, as their boat began picking up speed effortlessly!!! Would they be able to catch us in time??

Could F3 hold on?? There was no time to recover our strokes as every PAX gave everything we had for just one more stroke, just 10 more seconds!!! “Pull! . . . Pull! . . . Pull!” (Focus, Focus, Focus)

As we crossed the finish line, the MBPD’s boat shot past us. Did we win?? Did they win?? Some PAX said, “I think it was us!!” Other PAX shook their heads in disbelief.

Either way it was a razor thin victory but we had no time to dwell on it!! Because as we crossed the finish, our boat tilted a hair too much to the right. Water began trickling in, then the floodgates opened!! The right-side PAX splashed into the lake!! Although it was only a split second, the boat seemed to roll over and capsize in slow motion, throwing all PAX into the Murky Market Commons’ Water!! Paddles went flying, hat were floating, and many a good pair of sunglasses drifted down into the deep to find their final resting place. Who crossed the finish line first!!! No one knew!

The crowd erupted in CHEERS!!! Not only was the difference between 1st Place and 2nd Place less than 1/100th of a second, one boat was gliding on the water as the second one sank!! The wizards of Hollywood could not have choreographed a more dramatic finish!!!

Would the headlines read, “Robbed by the MBPD”, or “The Thrill of Victory & the Agony of Defeat”, or would it be “Just the Tip!!”

“NO!” Todays headline reads, “The Winner Is . . . Ground Zero . . . Dragon Boat 2019!!”



Circle of Trust:
 Rubber thanked God for our ability to come out and compete, we prayed for our regions and fellow PAX, and we prayed for our Men & Women in Uniform that protect us each day and allow us the freedom to pursue our passions,

 Get ready to win back the hardware for next year . . .see you at 2020 Dragonboat Races

Officially the MBPD took the Fitness Division Trophy and F3 took the Trophy for the Fastest Time. Although it was not the ending we anticipated, our PAX handled themselves with humility and grace; congratulating the MBPD for a fantastic race!

This was a great event!! And I for one am already thinking about winning back the Trophy next year!! Our Beatdowns are the glue that holds us together but its events like this that make our relationships stronger. Thank all of you once again for sharing the journey. #ISI #F3Counts!!!

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