By Karl Weisel, USAG WiesbadenJuly 17, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany (July 17, 2012) -- Wiesbaden's dragon boat races at the Schiersteiner Hafen Fest may be one of the not-so-best-kept secrets in the area. Every year more and more people turn out to cheer on the paddlers and to enjoy the stands, rides, flea market and other attractions featured along the waterfront.
This year marked the fourth time a team of Soldiers, civilians and family members from the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade competed and the fifth time a U.S. military community team joined the dragon boat competition.
"This is my second year," said Maj. Erich De La Vega, with 66th MI Brigade Public Affairs, and a member of the Lazy Dragons. "I would say I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's always a great opportunity to be not only with my teammates, but also to explore the German culture and enjoy the festival."
With a mix of bright sunshine and heavy showers during the two days of paddling, competitors put their skills to the test in the various heats. As a "fun team," members of the Lazy Dragons were required to have a mix of male and female members.
"The final day it was raining and that was quite the challenge," said De La Vega. "The first day it was sunny and a typical American summer's day."
Despite the mixed weather, the Lazy Dragons battled their way through the various rounds claiming a couple second places, a first and ending up in about the middle of the pack out of some 20 "fun" teams for combined times.
"Because of the commitments we all have, it's hard for everyone to make it to all of the practices," said 1st Lt. Thomas Robertson, who along with his wife Gretchen, is a veteran dragon boat paddler. "For the amount of practices we had together, I think we did well. I'm proud of what we accomplished as a team."
"It's a fun event," Robertson added. "We get out, form partnerships, meet people and form friendships."
Robertson added that he would like to encourage more Americans to get involved in dragon boating. "Coach Gerd Stinner would like to get two teams together -- to get more people involved. There are also German teams that welcome Americans," he said.
For more information about dragon boating, Robertson recommended people head to the Schiersteiner Hafen and ask those practicing about getting involved, email him at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org or call Coach Gerd Stinner at civ (0611) 62755.