Thursday September 28, 2017
Susan Church, Tina Giangrande, Anna Judge, Anne Sullivan, Gisela Veve and their Malia Mayhem teammates finished second in their division at the United States Dragon Boat Federation’s National Championships September 16 and 17 in West Windsor, New Jersey. Their silver-medal performances in races that were decided by as little as two hundredths of a second now guarantee a face-off with the world’s fastest crews in Szeged, Hungary, next July. The category has been dominated by Canadian, Philippine and Thai teams in past years. The Malia crew aims to change that and is looking for a few more women over the age of 40 to round out the roster.
Dragon boating is a millennia-old team watersport that pits crews of 20 or 10 paddlers against one another in races ranging from 200m to 2km. Synchronicity and teamwork are as important as strength and cardiovascular endurance; teams win or lose as a unit; there are no individual stars.
The crew’s paddlers have been training under Veve and Liisa Reimann, former world champions and Team USA paddlers and coaches. This women’s team, Mayhem, was established just last year, though the club’s men’s, women’s and mixed gender teams have been working diligently up through the levels of competitive racing since Malia’s first season in 2013. The women of Mayhem decided this was the year to take a run at national and international titles.
Veve and Reimann established the club in 2012 with the purpose of “finding and releasing the athlete in all of us.” The two are thrilled at the prospect of returning to Hungary next summer. “We were there as paddlers in 2013, with Team USA,” says Veve, “which was an amazing experience. But to go now with OUR team, the crew we created and prepared ourselves… that’s priceless.”
Trained by top Canadian coaches, whose elite teams they now aim to beat, the duo invites any motivated woman interested in earning a seat on the boat to get in touch. “If you can make the grade in our fitness program, we can help you make the grade as a paddler,” Reimann promises. “We have 10 months to get ready. We’re giving ourselves a bit of a break for October, but we’ll be hitting it hard on November 1.”
An informational meeting for anyone interested in either earning a spot on the Mayhem roster or joining one of Malia’s other teams - with sights set on events like the 2019 Pan American Championships in Trinidad and Tobago - will be held on Monday, October 2, 6 p.m., at the Heineberg Community Senior Center, 14 Heineberg Road, in Burlington.
Malia Paddling & Racing Club is a non-profit organization created to recruit, motivate, and train athletes of all ages, and to enable them to compete in the sport of dragon boat racing at the regional, national, and international levels. Group training is based in the Burlington area, but Malia’s paddlers hail from Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, and Washington counties, as well as from New York. Visit maliaracing.com for more information.