On a cloudy day, where the winds were playful and the heavens opened up to an initial downpour, a team from the Centre for Advanced Laser Applications (CALA) brought a splash of creativity to this year's dragon boat race. The much-anticipated annual event, held between Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich) and Technical University of Munich (TUM), crowns the "Master of the Olympic Lake", named for the charming location where the competition unfolds, Munich's Olympic Lake.

Our valiant CALA crew, humorously dubbed the "CALAmari," swapped lab coats for calamari costumes, creating quite the stir at the race. The CALAmari crew, complete with tentacle-themed attire, did not simply make a fashion statement, but also displayed a strong show of teamwork and determination.

Preparation for the race wasn't taken lightly by the CALAmari team. The crew trained for an entire month, with four intensive sessions at the Regattastrecke, the famous rowing track in Munich. This diligence paid off when the crew scooped first place in the initial two scoring runs, recording an impressive best time of 1 minute 21.3 seconds. With this commendable performance they missed out by a split-second on the semi-finals, whose selection is based on timing rather than ranking.

But every cloud has a silver lining, or in this case, a tentacle. The team's calamari-themed attire, thoughtfully designed by CALA's master's student Veronika Kratzer, won them the second prize for the most creative boat.

The unpredictable weather caused delays and the unfortunate cancellation of the much-anticipated "Professorenrennen". Prof. Stefan Karsch, known for his sportive spirit, was keen to participate but weather conditions thwarted his plans.

In spite of the circumstances, the day was about more than just the race. The CALAmari crew might have narrowly missed the semi-finals, but they captured something equally significant – an award recognizing their creativity, team spirit, and the effervescent ambiance they brought to the event. Here's to harnessing this energy for the next big leap in laser acceleration, and to the anticipation of riding the waters at next year's dragon boat race with renewed zeal and imagination!

Pictures: Christoph Olesinski & Veronika Kratzer.