Our crew found even more speed in the second day of racing. We were assigned lane 1 with Italian, Chinese Development, New Zealand, Dutch and Oxford crews rounding out the field in our heat. A clean start put our bow within a length of the rest of the field after the first 750 meters. We pushed the Italians throughout and crossed the finish in 5th place, ahead of an Oxford crew that included athletes from this year’s Boat Race. Our finish time added to our previous day’s result gave us a 5th place finish of 12 crews for the Chengdu leg of the racing. We were happy with the way we raced.
Following the awards ceremony, our attention was immediately directed to the most bizarre tradition I have ever witnessed. A dilapidated truck backed up to the docks and people mounted the truck bed to toss live ducks into a motor boat. The motor boat then sped off to the middle of the race course as people launched the ducks into the water. Dragon boats filled to the brim then raced to the ducks where people jumped into the water to catch the animals by their necks. The crowd Oh’d and Ah’d as more ducks were captured. It was nothing like anything any of us had ever seen!
The racing concluded with a grand closing ceremony at the hotel. Traditional Chinese dance acts entertained the rowers and Chinese government officials while dinner was served. Everything from fire to acrobatics were included in this program. Each crew did their own production and most did dances or songs indigenous to their countries. All in all, this program wrapped up a very impressive week in Chengdu.