Monday, April 29, 2013

Team Army was outraced by the PDBF Timekeeper

When our team lost to Buhi during the recent Dragon Boat race in Zambales, we were not really devastated. We readily accepted the fact that we were not invincible at all.

Our defeat served as a grim reminder that we need to identify the gaps and fill them. 

"We must dedicate more time developing our team strength as well as our paddling skills. Let us throw away the spirit of complacency".

In the past days prior to the Bohol event, my soldiers spent more time paddling at the murky waters of Manila Bay. Also, they ran more distances, swam more laps and did land training more often.

They were doing 2,500m in the practices many times to build their stamina and spirit. No retreat, no surrender!

I occasionally joined them to observe their performance and also to get rid of my extra fats. It is probably the best way to impose self-punishment for eating too much! 

A week before the Bohol race I knew that they were up and ready. They were very hungry for victory. 

We are all aware that aside from Team Buhi, we are also facing another formidable foe, the Team Navy which had prepared for the race in the past two months. 

Team Navy is indeed an intimidating adversary. They have at least 9 paddlers who are members of the National Team under the banner of the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation. Yes, nine strong paddlers against 8 'international veterans' from our team.

What about Team Buhi? We do not underestimate these fishermen who came all the way from Bicol. Paddling is their way of life. Their light weight is an asset too. 

Though their paddling skills are not at par with our athletes, they had proven that they can beat both the Army and the Navy during the past races.

The 'warm-up' race

When we landed in the historic province of Bohol on April 29, we were ready to invade the bailiwick of Dagohoy and Tamblot. 

I can see faces of determination among my soldiers. They all wanted to show that indeed, we were the best Dragon Boat crew in this part of the world. 

Sgt Usman Anterola, as usual, exercised his leadership by motivating the team. "Focus palagi at wag matakot. Sumabay palagi sa unahan at huwag kaligtaan ang basics ng pagsagwan!"

Our 'warm-up' race was the 2,000m Standard Boat Open Event. 

Only 6 teams participated in the Open event namely: Army, Navy, Buhi, Maharlika Drakon, Onslaught.

During the Team Manager's meeting, the PDBF laid down the basic rules:

   a. There will be buoys every 500m distance;

  b.  The boat must not 'touch' the buoys (6 meter clearance);

  c.  Overtaking rules;

  d.  There will be only two heats where three teams will race. The succeeding teams will be released 15 secs after the other.

  e. The team with the best recorded time wins.

The 'amazing race'

In the first heat, the Army was facing the Maharlika Drakons and the Navy. It was our team's face-to-face encounter with our Navy brothers after the split of the Dragon Boat teams (and the formation of another Dragon Boat organization known as the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation). 

We have heard so many claims about 'which is the stronger and the better Dragon Boat team' in the Philippines. It could not be proven using the usual battle of words. It has to be settled in the race site. Magkaalaman na.

I have a short reminder to my soldiers. "We will only race once in this event. Let's give our best and prove our worth.  And......... Beat Navy!".

When they had settled in the boat for the 2,000m event, I saw warrior faces. Uhaw uli sa panalo.

At the starting line, the Maharlika Drakons was released first. Team Army followed after 15 seconds, to be chased by the Navy which was released after another 15 seconds. 

By our effective 'u-turns' the Army closed the gap with the Maharlia Drakons in the first 500m and was able to overtake it after the 1,000 mark. 

The Navy was trailing the Army but could not catch up. Our paddlers were too fast in the last kick that they reached the finish line way ahead of the mighty sailors. 

According to the PDBF time keeper, our time results are as follows:

Army- 09:33:11 (nine minutes, 33 seconds and 11 milliseconds)

Navy-09:48.81 (nine minutes, 48 seconds and 81 milliseconds)

Maharlika-11:03.63 (eleven minutes, 03 seconds and 63 milliseconds)

In the second heat, the first to be released was the Onslaught Dragons, followed by Triton and Lake Buhi. 

Triton gave Team Buhi a good fight by giving all their best to outrace their fast-paced paddlers from Bicol.

Team Buhi had problems in the 'u-turns', they usually slow down with some paddlers stopping. They also could not imitate the Army's quick turns, avoiding the buoys with only a few meters of clearance. 

It was only after the 3rd buoy that the Team Buhi was able to overtake Triton team. Still finishing strong, they cleared the finish line way behind Onslaught (about 50-75 meters), the first team to be released. 

The official time record is:

Team Buhi -9:13.48 (nine minutes, 13 seconds, 48 milli seconds)

Onslaught- 10:03.07 (ten minutes, 03 seconds, 07 milliseconds)

Triton---    10:08.89 (ten minutes, 08seconds, 89 milliseconds)

And it follows that the 2,000 meter ranking is as follows.

Champion--Team Buhi (ahead of Team Army by 20 seconds)

1st Runner up--Team Army

2nd Runner up- Team Navy

'Believe it or not?'

I know that in any sport, there are sour-grapers. But, there are valid reasons for complaining. What about the guys who resent (and complain) when they feel that they are robbed of victory? 

The Army feels this way. I am sorry. You know why? There are some questionable parts of the results. 

Well, we recorded our own time just like any other team whose Boat Captain is a veteran in races. Our time was way below the time record of Mister and Miss Time Keeper!

Also, it is not statistically probable. Let me explain it to you. 

Team Buhi was released last in the 2nd heat right? Yes, the last. It means they started to paddle 30 seconds after Onslaught. Hmmmmmm

See the results? (Team Buhi--9:13.48 as against Onslaught's 10:03.07). What does it mean?  It means Team Buhi finished the 2,000m race 50 seconds ahead of Onslaught! Believe it or not?  

Using simple arithmetic, it is not believable. (Tell that to Ripley's)

Let me explain why.

Onslaught was released 30 seconds ahead of Team Buhi which was not able to at least catch up with the former. 

Let's say, Team Buhi finished 10:33.07 or 30 seconds behind Onslaught (raw time), then you need to deduct 30 secs right? Dapat same time sila sa final record.

What about if Team Buhi finished say 60 seconds after Onslaught? Hmmmm. Do the math. How do you come up with that result showing that they were ahead of Onslaught by 50 seconds? Kung nagkasabay nga ang Team Onslaught at Team Lake Buhi na dumating sa finish line, dapat ay 30 seconds lang ang lamang ng Lake Buhi. Eh, di naabutan ng Buhi ang Onslaught kaya maliwanag na 'Dagdag-bawas!'.

Well, let me share also that Team Buhi beat the Army in the 1st leg of 2013 Regatta and the Zambales race only by milliseconds or split seconds. I want to emphasize that we could not accept that we are behind them by 20 seconds or about 6 boats away!

Well, here is another puzzle. (If you want to share the confusion that I have in mind). 

Let's take a look at the result of the 2,000m Standard Mixed Events. For newbies, when we say 'Mixed' it means it is a mix of both male and female paddlers (12 males, 8 males).

Here is the official time of the Mixed Event:

Team Buhi - 9:33.14 seconds

Team Coast Guard--9:36.46 

Wow, man that's amazing! So, it means that Team Army has almost the same time record with the Mixed Event! I asked Usman if he included some high school students during the race and the answer was a big 'No!'.

Paano ginawa yong time scoring? Hula-hula?

Any protest?

I had been to international competitions and I am aware that there are provisions for protests in cases like this where there is a big question on officiating.

I tried to raise the issue to the PDBF but met with following answers:

"Oh, you're late in your protest." 

Well, what is the reference time? The announcement was that the race results must be posted near the entrance. It was posted on a tarp that was installed in a fence about 30 meters away. 

I reviewed the IDBF rules. I could not see any reference to 'late protest'. I raised the issue some 30-minutes after the announcement that the results were posted.

Then, I was told to explain the nature of my complaint. 

"There is a problem with your time keeper," I said, as I showed her the simple computations above. 

"Ahhhh, sorry but some of the teams were actually released like 23 seconds after the other."

"Ahhh, actually regardless of the time gap, we are using individual clocks anyway". Hmmmmm.

Seeing our original time as 9:48.11, I asked:  "But why was our original time 9:48:11 and deducted 15 secs?" 

I got no clear answers. I saw people refusing to admit that there was a problem.

Eh paano na yong rules na pinag-usapan? If we are officiating a 400m-dash, can we tell our runners that the rules were changed while they were racing? Nah.

That is not acceptable because any sane player wants to follow the rules and will complain if the rules are not equally applied. That is a no brainer.

I wanted to raise the issue because I want to help solve problems. If I am met with a wall of defense, a flurry of counter-punches of evasion tactics, then the problem with the time keeper will happen again. 

I would not allow my team to compete in that same race format where only the time keeper has the final say who wins the game. That is not fair to my team especially in this age of GPS watches where you can record the time, distance and speed of the boat. 

Our protest was non-sense. I did not pursue it because the end is not in sight. I wanted to finish the rest of the races.


I don't blame Team Buhi for the results. They did their best. I admire this team who traveled at least 500kms to Manila every time there is a race in Manila Bay. Pinaghirapan nilang puntahan ang Bohol. 

Eh.....paano naman kami? We just wanted a fair game. Pinaghirapan din naming mag-ensayo. 

Well, Pacman got the Draw decision during his first fight with Marquez in 2004. It was because of an error by one judge. It was admitted. 

Pacman also lost to Bradley because of 'horrible' judging as if 'they were blind' according to world-renown boxing promoter Bob Arum. When it was re-scored, Pacman  was declared as the winner but the Championship Belt was not taken back from Bradley. 

We don't want to grab that Championship Trophy from Team Buhi. It's theirs. 

They are not blamed for this mistake.

Because there was no admission about the grave error that probably cost us the trophy, I told my team to 'consolidate and reorganize as what we do in the Rangers. 

"We should not become desperate with this result. We will show them which is the fastest boat crew in the Philippines by ruling the next events."

We accepted that in the 2,000m event,  it was only the Time Keeper who outraced us, not Team Buhi. 

Para makabawi: "Pausukan ng tubig ang kalaban!"

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