Americans join their German neighbors in annual dragon boat competition
July 21, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany, July 21, 2011 -- A team from the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, better known as the “Lazy Dragons,” reeled in 11th place at the 16th annual Dragon Boat Races at the Schierstein Harbor Festival July 9-10.
Determined to raise the bar from past years, Soldiers of the Lazy Dragons -- the only American team among the field of 32 dragon boaters -- began conditioning their bodies for the challenges ahead earlier this year.
Trainees gathered during early morning hours at the nearby marina as their German racing coach taught them the ropes.
“This year I was especially thrilled, because for me, the Americans were quite enthusiastic, and their team spirit never dwindled,” said Coach Gerd Stinner.
“I was terribly impressed with their work ethic,” said Stinner. “The stroke technique is most complex and is what the average adult must relearn, because as children we possess this natural ability, but with age we forget.”
The fates smiled upon the 66th MI Bde. team, said Gretchen Robertson, one of the more seasoned participants, adding that this year not one of the team members lost a paddle.
As trophy-hungry racers battled for the main prize: a hand-carved dragon, each vessel had its own personal drummer to provide a battle rhythm for his teammates to mimic in their paddling.
“I’ve never known any other sport that builds such a spirit of togetherness. This is due to the necessity for synchronization,” said Stinner.
The true prize, he added, is “the integration of Soldiers with Wiesbaden society -- because the Americans, from the point of view of German locals, is that they are seemingly cloistered along the fringes of the community here.”