Providence Business News
By Rhonda J. Miller
Fire on the Water is the name of the dragon-boat team from 212 Health and Performance that has a healthy mix of paddlers for one of the fitness center’s popular corporate outings – the Chinese Dragon Boat Races on the Pawtucket River that were held Sept. 6.
Outfitted in red and black and highlighted by bandanas with a flame design, the team comprised staff and members of the gym, located in East Providence.
The mix of employees and gym members is a necessity – each dragon boat has a crew of 22, plus four alternates, and 212 Health and Performance has 11 employees.
“We also have to have some staff members stay and keep the gym open on the day of the dragon-boat race, because Saturday mornings are pretty busy for us, so we recruit members of our gym to row with us,” said Heather Castellanos, operations manager for 212 Health and Performance. She was dragon-boat team captain this year, the third year the fitness center participated in the race.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s something competitive we can do together. Our staff and our member base are kind of inherently competitive people, but for us, it’s not all about competition, like some of the dragon-boat teams that come in from other states to compete,” she said.
“It starts with practices, so members of the gym and staff who may not have known each other get to interact,” she said.
“Then, on the day of the race, every team gets its own tent where we can hang out and barbecue,” she said. “We bring two hibachi grills and divide up who’s going to bring fruit and snacks and hot dogs and we make a nice day of it.”
The Fire on the Water team has members ranging in age from 19 to 62, she said.
Last year, the team won $500 as the winner in its division. Since the team decides what to do with the money, the members decided to use it toward the $950 team entry fee for this year’s race.
The first year they entered offered a dramatic experience for the group.
“We crashed into another boat our first year,” said Castellanos. “That year the wind and the currents were awful.
“They’re huge, heavy boats and hard to damage,” she said. “Nothing really happened, it just slowed us down and I don’t think the other team we crashed into was too happy with us.”
The races also provided a multilayered corporate-outing experience for the team from the Providence office of the engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill, whose team wore neon-green shirts.
“This was the third year we had a team in the dragon-boat races. The main reason we compete is that we are interested in the property itself,” said team captain Brian Kortz, a project manager at Fuss & O’Neill, a civil and environmental engineering firm headquartered in Manchester, Conn., with offices also in Massachusetts and South Carolina.
“We’ve been working with the city of Pawtucket on the site where the races occur on the Pawtucket River,” said Kortz. “It’s the location of a former oil terminal and has recently served as a park and fishing pier.
“The city has worked to make it a brand new waterfront park and has just been finishing it up,” said Kortz. “We really enjoyed the project and we thought entering our team in the races is part of our commitment to the project, and it’s a great event for our company to get together.”
Fuss and O’Neill has about 30 employees in its Providence office.
“We’re mostly there for fun and we have spouses and other family members on our dragon-boat team,” he said.
© 2014 Providence Business News.