13 08 2009

Have I ever mentioned before how much I enjoy local tournaments? I dont think I have…partially because far away tournaments dont bother me, as I like driving and certain far away venues tend to be our favorites. Anyway, last weekend was the annuel “Racing above the Bay” tourament, hosted by Bay Racers in Hayward, Ca, and named because the venue is literally right above the bay.

Located at the Hayward College, the tournament site in the early morning dawn has a great view-thousands of shining lights from the city below and the view of the bay, makes you feel like you’re close to the top of the world.

Because the tournament was SO local, it only took me about 35 minutes to get there, and of  course i arrived before everyone else, and around the same time as two of our newest team members, donning our new team trailer hauling the boxes and all the gear. Sweet! So, we started setting up the 6 easy-ups and unloading, and noticed the several of our team members had arrived and secured a different area on the OTHER side of the field. Guess i had efficient levels of caffine in my blood already, so i didnt mind too much setting up camp twice.

This is possibly and probably the best NAFA tournament Jet has ever had. Even so, the tournament seemed a recipe for anything but that: the ground is very hard, the grass thin, and the sun hot. Jet was racing on Loose Dogs, of course, and Riley was running 3/4ths time on Unleashed. The club was running 4 teams this time, and it seemed like a breeze compaired to the Truckee tournament. Either that, or we’re just getting used to being super busy.

Loose Dogs ended up in Division 1, with all the faster teams. We were seeded at 19.5 again, much to my confusion, as the dogs on that team are Jinx/Jet/Emma/Magic, in that order. All these dogs (all border collies, ecxept for Emma, who is a Jack) will be running at least 4.5 seconds, with Emma probably around 4.7-5.0 as the height dog. But, it seemed like we’d have some fun races, so i figured i’ll have to wait and see.

Holy smokes Jet was awesome that first race. We were running against a 17 second team, and it was just all i could do to hold Jet back at his place in second. He was wired, barking and lunging and almost snarling at the opposing team, raring to go. The race began, I watched Jinx, our start dog, saw the right moment, and released Jet into the pass from 46 feet back. He flew down that lane, running a 4.3 his first heat. My pass was 2 feet, concerned i would be early the next heat i backed up. But Jet had locked his gaze onto the opposing dog he was racing, and on the second heat broke free from me and charged into the pass and down the lane. Whew! We weren’t early! Thats al i was thinking as Jet slammed the box and was streaking back to me. And then i saw his time: 4.20! Woohoo! And my pass? 3 Feet? I couldnt believe it, a 4.20 with a 3 foot pass…if i had been just a smigden closer on my pass he would have done a 4.1 in a passing position. Either way, Jet had broken his fastest NAFA passing best time, again. He went on to run another 4.3 and then a 4.4.  For the whole heat, he ran the folowing times: 4.3, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 4.4.  All these times were including a pass; Jet was running like he usually did at Madera!

Not only did that, but on the heat that Jet ran a 4.2, our team ran a new best time of 17.905, the first time we’ve ran a 17 second time in NAFA. It was great to be on another personal best time breaking team.

Riley had a great first race. Her box was excellant, and she was at ease with the dog she was passing because i was getting 1 and 0 foot passes.  She even ran a 5.3! She was doing very well at bringing home the race for Unleashed as anchor dog. I flaggd down Dave Mills, the photographer (he’s great!) at the tournament so hopefully Riley will have some nice shots of her box.

It began to get hot around 11 am,  but this wasnt slowing down Jet, he ran 4.3’s for half of his heats on his second race, and then 4.4’s.  He was running me down and taking these flying leaps at his tug, so i was getting bitten. Still, i was super happy. Who cares about the handler, as long as the dog is happy and safe?

Speaking of safe, i was running my border/staffie buddy Riot on the Stray Dogs team, and was trying to make sure he was breathing (if you hold him by his harness it will cut off his air supply to his throat), and trying to not get bit in the runback. Well, i suceeded and then failed, as i now have a nice, purple, jaw shaped, apple-sized bruise on the back of my leg, from when i took my eyes off him tugging to ask how my pass was.  Its not Flyball until you’re bleeding.

I knew Jet would be getting enough points this tournaemnt for his FMCh title, but it was still a wonderful feeling of pride and accomplishement when the score table announced it over the PA system, after Jet’s title earning race. So here we are, Flyball Master Champions. Lots of our friends from other clubs congradulated us over the weekend.

Riley ended up getting tired during the end of the day. The heat was taking its toll, but she semed happy and was doing her job. I did have to run back to the 40 foot line when she was hitting the box, because it seems like the farther back i am in the runback, the longer she would hold the ball. She started dropping it right at the line, so that sometimes the head judge and line judge had to talk it over weather it was clean, but we ended up getting it by a whisker.

Loose Dogs ended up getting first place in divison 1, and Stray dogs also set a new Multibreed record for our club in NAFA, at 17.7.

I was super tired on Sunday, but Jet wasn’t. He pretty much ran the same times at he had on Saturday. The difference was, that we changed the team lineup and had our lab Emma on that team instead of Jinx, so we werent as fast. Emma was starting, and it became clear that it was going to be much harder to pass her with Jet than it was passing jinx. On the first race, I had to place Jet at the 53 foot mark and release when Emma was coming over the last jump from the box. I had a 0 foot pass, and Jet ran a 4.3. So i backed up, and ended up having to be a 60 feet to not be early.

One of the best moments on Sunday was how Jet ran the second to last race of the day. We had Jinx back in the linup for this one, and the team we were racing was almost all border collies. Jet was going bananas. On his first heat he ran a 4.2 again. Then several 4.3’s and a 4.5. It was amazing, here we were, the second day of the tournament, it is almost 90 degrees outside, and the next to last race of the tournament, and he still runs a 4.2. I was prouder than ever. Jet is running like the champ he is.

The ground was getting too tough for poor Riot’s paws, and his owner had to vetwrap all four feet, even then he tore his stopper pad. Riley was tired and ended up sharing heats for the last couple races, but was a happy dog. She worked really hard one race, when she bobbled the ball almost into the other lane, ran and got it, and found the last jump (which was really out of her way)and made it in time to beat the opposing team’s last dog to win the race.

I had lost of fun racing all the dogs i ran last weekend. Not to mention the hightlights of the tournament, Jet’s new BP NAFA passing time, breaking into the 17’s, FMCh, and Riley bringing it home. This was a wonderfully positive tournament that makes me hopefull that we will end the year great and finally put our past troubles behind us. All thats left is to keep training and conditioning and keep a positive outlook, and hopefully all our tournaments will be great like this one. (And whats better than a local tournament where you spend less than a half-tank of gas all weekend? )

Mollie, Jet, and Riley




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