Students from Milpitas and Mountain View high schools paddled their way to victory at the 10th Annual Youth Dragon Boat Race at Lake Merced in San Francisco on April 16.
The competition included more than 25 crews from the Bay Area. Milpitas, along with students from Mountain View, entered two crews into the competition. The club's B Boat took first place in Division D, and the A Boat earned a slot in Division B.
Tram Nguyen, a senior and president of the Milpitas High School club, said she is extremely proud of her team.
"Almost 100 percent of the paddlers on the boat are new, and they exceeded my expectation when they placed first in Division D, especially because some of the teams that we were against have been paddling for a long time," Nguyen said.
"That is an amazing accomplishment for the team, especially since we competed against some of the best teams in the Bay Area."
Dragon boat racing originated in ancient China. Modern races are typically against a field of seven or eight teams down a course of 500 meters.
"Competition is broken down into successive heats, which breaks down into division and placement within each division," said Claro Arzadon, a volunteer coach through the California Dragon Boat Association (CDBA) and MHS alumni. "Races are both co-ed and gender specific."
The team trains at the Bair Island Aquatic Center in Redwood City. Training sessions are held three times a week, consisting of two hours a session.
Boats are provided by the CDBA, which maintains a fleet in the Bay Area, and are available for use by team members.
"The boats themselves indeed have a dragon's head and tail," Arzadon said. "The head and tail are not attached during training sessions but are used during competition."
The team will be racing in local and international events throughout the season.
"I am looking forward to the season that is ahead of us, because I know that we are going to surprise everyone and continue to climb to the top," Nguyen said. "Those medals were just plastics and metals, but our hearts are made out of gold."
The student-run club began in 2004 at MVHS. Over the years, membership included students from San Jose, Milpitas and the Peninsula. The partnership between Mountain View and Milpitas began when a Mountain View student moved to Milpitas to finish his senior year at MHS.
"Though both schools maintain their own clubs, they both come together to form one team," Arzadon said. "The team trains and races under the auspices of the California Dragon Boat Association."
Larry Yang, president of the Mountain View club, said he is happy with the collaboration between Mountain View and Milpitas and what they were able to accomplish.
"Overall, this was MVDB's most successful showing at the CDBA Youth Race, and given that we are still a very young team overall, I see good things in our future," he said.