It’s officially summer in New Haven, CT, and along the stretch of shoreline ASSA ABLOY calls home, the food trucks, seagulls and dragon boats have returned in force. (Did she say, “dragon boats?”)  That’s right! As the tide rose at 4:15pm on June 3rd, three, 41-foot Chinese dragon boats raced across Long Island Sound, and I was rowing like heck in one of them!   

The occasion was the second annual Canal Dock/New Haven Dragon Boat Regatta and Food Truck Festival, a fundraiser to subsidize construction of the new, Canal Dock Boathouse at Long Wharf. When the project is completed, Canal Dock Boathouse, Inc. (a 501[c][3] not-for-profit organization) will offer indoor and outdoor recreational rowing opportunities free of charge to public school students, and will provide environmental education programs through a partnership with the University of New Haven. It’s a great cause and an outstanding shoreline development initiative, so the “SARGENT LOCKness Monsters” assembled a rowing team and sponsored a boat. (LOCKness Monsters…get it?! Because, what else would we be called?!)   

Eleven boats competed in all; each boat contained up to 20 paddlers and a drummer who kept the team paddling in sync. In order to qualify, each crew had to include at least 6 female paddlers. (The “Tuff Girls” competed with an ALL girl crew by the way, and they were formidable!) Regarding skill, the race organizers said, “All competing teams comprise amateurs; there is NO NEED FOR PRIOR EXPERIENCE.”  For the most part, I’d say that was true. But in order to learn the basics and to develop a little rowing chemistry, each team spent one hour with a coach prior to the race. Not that I’m competitive or anything, but on practice day, I hung around for two coaching sessions.

Just sayin’.

On race day, Team LOCKness rowed in four, 200-meter races. Each race lasted less than a minute. The sun was bright, the sky was blue, the water conditions were ideal.

By day’s end, however, the “Nightmares on Elm Street” (and seven other boats) had smoked us. Yep; we were ninth in a field of eleven. I’d like to tell you it was close, but the Nightmares’ slowest race, bested our fastest race by almost 10 seconds.  

Camaraderie and good sportsmanship dominated the day. The LOCKness Monsters “camped” next to the “Oarchitects,” a gracious and fun-loving group of paddlers from Gregg Wies & Gardner Architects LLC. The Oarchitects had a group song, a group cheer, a great hospitality tent, the best-looking t-shirts and hats in the competition, and wouldn’t you know, they specifiy ASSA ABLOY door and hardware solutions. Love those Oarchitects!

Following a raucous awards ceremony, as we broke camp, talk among the “Monsters” had already turned to “comeback” strategies for next year’s regatta. Among us were engineers; accountants; manufacturers; operations, sales, marketing/communications and human resources specialists; husbands, wives, sons and daughters. It was a truly great day, and one thing I know for sure; the SARGENT LOCKness Monsters are as determined to succeed on the water, as we are to succeed for our customers. So I have no doubt…we’ll get ‘em next year.