Old Age And Cunning Will Overcome Youth And Skill Every Time

Or in this case, nearly every time.
Warning: This story is a little longer than usual.
CanoeSUN_0003.jpgS&T’s Concrete Canoe Team has built good boats over the decades, but paddling was not necessarily their strong point. For years an ancient former Boy Scout nagged the team without success about how to paddle properly. They ignored references to the J-stroke, turning techniques, feathering the paddles, and even keeping their elbows straight. Blasphemy!
Finally the old one could take it no longer and issued a mano-a-mano paddling challenge, something like “I’m three times your age and I can STILL kick your butts!”, and head paddler Eddie Noonan took the bait. The terms of the duel were simple; old school versus new. Two guys, averaging 50 years old, would use old-fashioned wooden paddles and long-ago scout camp paddling techniques. The twenty-somethings, who had been practicing for weeks, would use aluminum paddles with fancy curved composite blades.
After much negotiating between the duelers’ respective ‘seconds’, the terms were set, a Thursday fall afternoon at a local lake. The course? Across the lake, around a small island, and back to the start, but before the boats even got wet things began to unravel.
CanoeSUN_0061_2.jpgFirst of all, the challengers couldn’t locate wooden paddles of the proper length. And then they couldn’t locate wooden paddles in Rolla, PERIOD! That left the AARP to “borrow” the canoe team’s back-up paddles, complete with loose handles duct-taped on, and blade surfaces the size of a teaspoon.
Then it became apparent that canoes have gotten smaller over the decades, and there was no way the ‘boomers” could straighten out their legs. The student team showed up with three experienced paddlers and a media crew, but were forced to draw straws to choose only two racers. A last-minute equalization rule was pulled over their eyes imposed that said both crews had to weigh roughly the same, and that the team had to carry a third student as ballast. It’s gotta be fair, right?
The challengers got in about 10 minutes of warm-up practice, their first in decades, and the race was on. The young ‘uns pulled ahead as both crews paddled furiously away from the dock, but Team Geritol was gaining speed. The geezers got in rhythm and managed to pass the student team, but it soon became apparent that something was wrong; the challengers hadn’t practiced turning procedures and accidentally cut straight across the youngsters’ bow, resulting in a T-bone collision that almost capsized both craft. Then it was back to zig-zag racing. Both boats arrived at the island at the same time, but due CanoeSUN_0090_2.jpgto the afore-mentioned turning issue the fogeys tried to go through the island instead of around it. That, and the kids cut ’em off in the turn.)
Desperation in the home stretch nearly caused another wreck when the boats came within inches of each other but there was still no clear leader until the end.
Technically the students won, and collected a $50 donation check, but we expect satellite data anytime that will prove Obi-Wan’s crew paddled a much greater distance in the same time frame, so we look at it as a draw. All that distance has to be the reason why their stern man ran out of wind about 25 yards from the finish, ceding victory to the fittest. Yeah, that’s gotta be it.
Look for a rematch next year. Now, where’d I put that torpedo?