After many days of hard work refurbishing "Max", the team head out in the boat onto the bay

By Meredith Maran

When the DragonMax racing team needed a new 48-foot long boat, they were daunted by the prospect of spending thousands of dollars to acquire one. So they decided to do what everyone said could not be done: repair and restore a decaying boat.

More than 40 team members from team, located at the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center, spent hours restoring the 15-year old boat. Last Saturday, Dec. 10, the refurbished boat, named Max,  was set in the water and headed for its new home birth.

The DragonMax team is coached by Rodger Garfinkle and managed by Garfinkle’s wife Linda Lee. It was formed in 2004 for the purpose of promoting international dragon boat competition, and providing water access and educational opportunities to the Berkeley and East Bay communities. Several times during the year, especially at 4th of July, DragonMax members volunteer their time at Berkeley Marina events and taking new paddlers out in the boats.

DragonMax teammates begin the restoration process at Berkeley Marine Center, removing the boat's original wooden center beam and seats—carefully, so the 15-year-old boat doesn't fall apart. Photos by Meredith Maran
Bottoms up! Painting and priming the interior
Even the talented DragonMax volunteers couldn't manage to paint a boat and drink coffee at the same time
The Max's hull is so buff! Or at least, well-buffed
More than 40 team members had a hand in Max's restoration—including offerings of food and drink. Photo by Berman Ng
Ready for launching, the new and improved Dragon boat Max gleams in the morning sun at Berkeley Marine Center
She floats! After months of work, crew leader and Fleet Captain Katrine Thomas enjoys her moment in the sun
Exultant team members come aboard for the Max's virgin voyage, with team leaders Barbara Jean Walsh, Gary Young, and Katrine Thomas at the helm
Gary Young, who spent more than 130 hours prepping and varnishing the new wood for the project, gets a congratulatory hug from fellow team member Warren Yee

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