News

Kai Iwi Lakes - February 2017

(By Kaye Bond)

With anticipation I woke on the morning of Friday 10 February to head north to Kai iwi Lakes, a place I have never visited before.  The sun was hot and I could visualise a fantastic training weekend in front of me with some of my Pinkie team mates and many others from various Auckland Dragonboat teams.  Upon arrival I was greeted by Anne-Marie and once my tent was set up it was straight into the beautiful blue waters of the lake for a cool down.  Under the watchful eye of Anne-Marie I completed my 50m swim so it could be signed off.  Slowly as the day wore on the rest of the team arrived and set up.  Most Pinkies were in bed at a reasonable hour ready for the 6am paddle the next morning.

HAHA by the time we arose, about 7.30, the first paddle was already over.  Never mind breakfast sorted and then check in to party central at 9am to get a run down of the day before us.  As a NEWBIE to dragonboating I couldn't wait to get going.  Everyone was so friendly and we quickly were sorted into groups, dependent on our skill level.   

Along with 19 other new paddlers I got aboard a boat and we set out onto the lake to do a few circuits of one section.  Deb, the coach, watched how we all paddled and then gave very specific feedback to each paddler. Sometimes the information I was given reinforced what I had been told during our normal training and sometimes it conflicted with it.  It is up to me what I take on and what I don't as it is all about making the team stronger in the long run.

After just over an hour of training we returned to the shore where Deb continued to give more instructions before we once again headed out to paddle, as a team, around the lake.  Once back on shore again it was a quick swim and then some lunch before heading back to the main tent for more info on the afternoon's itinerary.  After being run through a few fitness warm ups we were back into boat for another session of skill building practice.  By late afternoon I was feeling really energised from paddling in a full boat.  This weekend has allowed me to sit in positions, such as stroke, that I wouldn't normally sit in.  Each position has it's role and it isn't until you get to experience that position that you truly realise how important each one is.

By late afternoon it was time to split into different groups again.  Those who would like a sedate scenic paddle around the whole lake or those that were into some tough love paddling.  I chose the scenic which started off quite nicely as we paddled the approximately 2 kms to the other side.  Once on the other side the call for a cool alcoholic beverage was calling for some so it was like a race back to base.  All thoughts of a sedate paddle were quickly thrown out.  I was quite proud of myself, as I am sure others were of themselves, for keeping up with everyone else on the boat even though at times I could feel the burn in my muscles and my chest.  Once back we assisted with taking the boats out of the water and loading trailers ready for the trip back to Auckland.

After dinner those who had stayed on meet at the party central tent where we were entertained by other teams who had made up skits.  After a couple of hours with bed calling I quietly returned to our area of the camp for a good nights sleep.  I remember waking up a couple of times throughout the night but I was so tired I would fall back to sleep quickly.

Sunday morning we awoke to a dull cloudy day and with the threat of rain a couple of us packed up quickly and headed out. I really have appreciated getting to know some of my team mates a bit better and I feel my paddling has improved since this weekend, as I learnt so much.  I would highly recommend people of all abilities attend these training weekends as I am sure everyone who attended has gone away with a better understanding of paddling, to some degree.

Happy paddling everyone!

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Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta - Jan 2017

 
Under a perfect clear blue sky, a record number of teams took part in the annual Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta. Auckland’s Anniversary Day celebrates the founding of the province and to commemorate this, a wide range of vessels take to the water in one of the world’s largest one-day regattas. Dragon boat racing is just one of the spectacles on offer for participants and spectators alike. 

So with a definite party vibe happening, our team consisting of ‘old hands’ and ‘newbies’ took to the water to race in three ‘fast and furious’ sprint heats and a final. I won’t lie, racing in the final for this ‘newbie’, although exciting, was just a little bit nerve wracking. A constant thought running through my head was ‘what if I stuffed up and, most importantly, couldn’t keep in time with my team-mates’. However, once the race was underway, it was just a case of digging in and getting on with the job at hand. We came third out of the four teams in our final - and for this ‘newbie’ racing in her first regatta, that felt good! 

Aside from the occasional halt to proceedings to allow for other boats to sail in and out of the Viaduct, overall the day went without a hitch. With plenty of action happening on the water and good crowds watching, we all had a fun day.

So, a big thank you to the Auckland Dragon Boat Association for making this day happen.

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Kai Iwi Lakes - Feb 2015

(By Liz Butcher)

The Kai Iwi Lakes Dragon Camp continues to be a popular and welcome event on the dragon boat calendar. This year five Pinkies went north to set up camp on the Friday night, get up early the next day for the dawn paddle - 4k round trip across the lake - then back for a camp breakfast before facing the day's challenges.

A lot of planning went into the training sessions to be held. All levels of experience were catered for and participants could choose where to be to make the most of the opportunity to learn from other coaches and paddlers alike.

The weather was great and some of us took it more easy than others. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and supportive. Helen, as a first timer, had a great time attending every workshop she could.

Concurrent with the classes were time trials - this is where two people go out on a 20 seater boat, one paddles and and the other helps balance the boat. A sweep is in place with a paddle to assist steering but not adding to the progress. The distance covered is 200m. The time taken is measured and a complicated equation involving your vital statistics (weight and age) determines the result. This provides a benchmark to where a paddler is at and what they may need to improve upon. There is also a particular technique for effective paddling in a time trial. As with all things some are better than others which was proved very conclusively with Robin taking the honours over the rest of us.

After the lessons comes play time where teams are made up for races. It is great fun to participate or watch. Lot's of serious energy is burned as everyone paddles their heart out. Dragon boating is always the winner on the day!

After dinner we all gather again for the entertainment. Teams are asked to perform a skit or song or tell a story. These are so very excellent and worth the trip. There is a lot of talent in the dragon boat crowd - both on and off the water. It is a pleasure to share that special time together. Then all too soon the party is over and the sun comes up and we all head back to our homes.

 

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Jan 2015

(Liz Butcher)

This regatta continues to grow with a record number of teams taking part. The course was the same as past years but the on-land set up provided a closer view for all of us with the gazebos placed near the action at the viaduct as well as the inclusion of a public stand.

The day was perfect for races and spectators alike with an overcast morning turning into a hot day. Spectators gathered throughout the day, eager to watch the racing!

As with previous years we were racing in the 10’s boats kitted out with dragon head and tails, drums and callers. This year our full team turned out which meant we entered two boats - Pinkies Rock and Pinkies Roll. Having two teams soon turned us to rivals on the water as we fought our way through the heats. In the finals we fiercely battled to the finish with the added dimension of the battle of the sweeps (Lion's Sooupu and Ricky). The close result augurs well for a successful season.

 

Tauranga Super 12s Regatta – 29 November 2014

(by Chris Johnson)

P1040564 (640x440)-312   (photo: Trish; Helen; Cat)

This year we were lucky to have our three new paddlers taking part, for all of them it was their first participation in a breast cancer final and a Flower Ceremony.  Here are their thoughts on their experiences.

CAT: It was so exciting to be in a race with only women...no male brute strength to compete against!  Also very poignant that all of us in the race had faced the cancer battle -but survived!!!  We came in a respectable second - yay! - but the elation of the race was short lived and we were soon very somber for the rose ceremony. The ceremony was quite sad, especially as the song that was played seemed very dark and dreary, but the sentiment was not lost as we waved our roses in the air, shed a few tears and felt thankful that we were thereto compete.  I love being part of this team and hope I can still be competing in 10 years, teaching new paddlers who are in the same position that I am currently in - a newby!!
HELEN: The time was right for me to get back into a competitive sport after years just managing others. The knees don't work as well and so when I met Lyn and Sue at the Boatshow a new opportunity presented itself in Dragon boating. The first few "newby" trainings had me hooked and soon I was regularly turning up to learn correct paddling techniques (still working on that one!! Bear with me Sooupu) and trying to get paddling fit (I think this is coming).

I remember wondering after the first two trainings how I would ever be able to paddle long enough to last one race let alone a whole regatta.  Everyone was very encouraging and with three newbies starting out together new bonds were formed.  I really felt I had joined a new sisterhood and we shared a common bond that made us a wee bit special. Having unfortunately missed the Hamilton regatta due to my rugby 7's involvement I was very keen to participate in the Tauranga Super 12's.  Chris and Anete took me under their wing and off we went.  I was quietly nervous, never having competed in anything like that before.  The first race my butterflies were humming and all technique went out the window.  I'm pretty sure I forgot to breathe from start to finish, it was a frenetic pace and I wondered how I could do that for 3 more races?  After a break and some inner composure we were out again and this time I remembered to breathe, keep my head up and felt much more part of the team. I survived all races intact with encouragement and nurture from my new Sisters.

It was a fun experience, paddling in all the weather Tauranga could throw at us, wind, rain, hot sun - but that’s what its all about. The rose ceremony was truly touching and very humbling. It is a beautiful interlude reconnecting us to those paddling angels and bringing the sisterhood closer with the common bond we share. We are Special!

TRISH: Churning tummy, hard to take on board that I'm paddling my 1st BC race after 3 practices!   Part of a very special team - a shared bond.  So nervous at the start, elated at the finish, I did it!The Rose Ceremony was very emotional, mixed feelings, tears of remembrance and happiness! Thoughts of absent friends and the many people who saw me through the tough times.  A beautiful way to begin new friendships :)


 

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Hamilton Super 12 – November 2014

(by Liz Butcher)

The first regatta of the new season promised rain and it delivered, but not straight away. Hamilton was an opportunity to try out our new paddling style. It was good experience to apply our learning in a race environment. Despite the impact on the days event with both wind and heavy rain, it was a great day out and enjoyed by all.

 





 

Robin with AwardLife Member Robin !

The Pink Dragons came to an end of era recently when long standing Team Manager, Robin Gamble, decided to step down from the role and relax for the next few years as “just a paddler”.
 
Robin joined the Pink dragons at its inception in 2005 and has given huge amounts of her time and energy to both the team and the sport of Dragon Boating in Auckland ever since. Not only has Robin been one of the most consistent team members but she has also served her time with positions on the committee for Auckland Dragon boat and, if anything needed to be done for the team or the association, Robin is always there to lend a hand.
 
The Pink Dragons have acknowledged Robin’s contribution to the team by awarding her Life Membership of Pink Dragons and look forward to paddling with her for many years to come.

 



Gulf Harbour Dragon Fest Super 10’s 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

Gulf HarbourFor the second year running Pink Dragons joined with other teams to take part in a regatta at the wonderful venue of Hobbs Wharf, Gulf Harbour.  This year it had a dragon theme, an ideal opportunity for us as Pink Dragons to get inventive as dressing up was the order of the day!  Surprise, surprise Pink Dragons became ‘pink dragons’ with their pink onesies transformed into dragons with a little addition.

The team gathered together, fingers crossed for the sun gods to shine throughout the day, and prepared for the racing.  Teams were mixed and the emphasis was on having fun.  The team slipped away before our first race and transformed into ‘pink dragons’.  It was quite a surprise to the other teams as we loaded our boat and set off for our first race! 

There were several heats of short sprints, a final and a mixed turns race concluded the days racing.  Although Pinkies were unsuccessful in their racing, they gave it their best.  However in the dress-up department they were a winning team and we duly collected a prize for best dressed team.

All in all it was a successful day, it didn’t rain too much, the racing was great and everyone had fun what more could a team want?

 

ADBA Awards 2014

photo(copy)At the recent Auckland Dragon Boat Association’s End of Season Award Night, Pink Dragons received an award for “2014 Most Improved Team “.  Congratulations to all members of the team for all the effort  put in over the season . The question is, can we improve even more over the next season? 

 

 



Pink Ribbon Breakfast


Pink Ribbon Breakfast(copy)More than 20 friends, family and Pink Dragons gathered on a Sunday afternoon to attend and help support  the Pink Ribbon Breakfast appeal.  In this case it was more of an afternoon tea with an appetizing spread of yummy sweet and savoury food being provided.

A host of raffle prizes were on offer and tickets sales helped to boost the final total.  Also on offer for a small donation was a choice of beauty procedures and the offer was taken up by a number of ladies.

There was a great choice of drinks offered also from pink bubbles to flat whites so something for everyone.  A good time was had by all and just as important we raised a huge total of $550 for NZBCF.  Well done all you lovely ladies!

 

To The Glory of Dragonboating

(By Andrea Partington)

andrea1(copy)Five years ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer after finding a lump in my left breast.
As I progressed through my ordeal I was given booklets, leaflets and a whole raft of information to help me deal with my diagnosis before, during and after treatment. Amongst this myriad of information was a flyer for 'The Pink Dragons' a female Breast Cancer Dragon Boating team that caught my eye.  I remember ringing one of the team members and being told that once I had finished my treatment and was declared medically fit to paddle I should get back in touch with her.

However as the year wore on and I got busy with living life again the idea faded from memory until one day I received a phone call asking if I was still keen and if so there was an upcoming 'Give it a go' day down at the Westhaven Marina which I was invited to attend.  Now I consider myself to be reasonably fit (even for my advanced age) having been a long distance runner for about the last twenty odd years but that first year of paddling coupled with trying to buy a house at the same time was incredibly stressful and I nearly gave it away.

Sitting in a boat full of 20 strong minded female Breast Cancer Survivors all of whom have different opinions and are not afraid to tell you how paddling is meant to be done is quite daunting and in the beginning, quite confusing. Not only did I have to contend with being told off constantly, I also discovered to my horror that I was ‘Rhythmically challenged’ and as a result I often committed the cardinal sin of hitting other people’s paddles, not to mention the side of the boat and disrupting the timing of the team! However I persevered, learnt to accept the feedback gracefully and gradually I have improved.

Dragon boating both in the Cancer and non-Cancer divisions is fiercely competitive and regattas are a regular occurrence on the sporting calendar. As a team we have travelled to Australia to compete in the Breast Cancer division. We also compete in this division within New Zealand the highlight of which being the National Championships alternating each year between North and South Island venues. These trips (once the business of hard out paddling is completed) have been fun with lots of laughter. Medals have been won including last year, the coveted gold at the Nationals in Rotorua for the 200m.
 
Now after four seasons I have become a ‘Polar Bear’ (winter paddler, the name describes it aptly). This is not to everyone’s liking as it consists of training in all kind of weather as part of a mixed team made up of other likeminded fools from the many teams within the Auckland Dragon Boat Association. Recently one of these afore mentioned fools (not me honest!) thought that it would be a good idea to paddle the 22 kilometres from Westhaven marina to the historic Riverhead tavern. This is no mean feat when you consider a typical race is held over distances of between 200 and 500 metres and that ‘endurance races’ are no more than 2 kilometres in length! Our training for this has seen us going around (and around) a circuit commencing at Westhaven, down to the Viaduct, then out under the harbour bridge to Watchman’s island and back again. If the sea is choppy not only is it good resistance training but there is also at no extra cost the thought that we could capsize at any moment which serves to keep everyone working as a team to avoid this from happening!

After several false starts due to bad weather we finally got the go ahead for Sunday 20th October. Loaded into two of the smaller class of Dragon boats (10 seater) we departed in glorious conditions at 07:00 heading out into the wide expanse of a becalmed Waitemata harbour. Our route taking us out under the bridge, across to Kauri point, past the ferry terminal at Hobsonville point and then on towards Herald island. From here we entered the Rangitopuni creek, which would take us to our final destination of Riverhead.
Rounding the final bend, our goal, the Riverhead tavern came into view and we doubled our efforts for one final push. As we approached the jetty a cry went up from one of the two safety boats that were accompanying us “Keep going, don’t stop we’ve only done 19.6 kilometres!” It turns out a final check of the GPS had revealed that initial calculations of the distance to be covered were out by 2.4 kilometres and seeing how we had set out on a journey that we believed was 22 kilometres then by golly 22 kilometres it was going to be! (Besides we already had the Tee shirts with 22 kilometres printed on them!) Paddling back down stream for 1.2 kilometres we then turned and headed once more for the finish line.

We had done it! It had only taken us about 2 hours and 36 minutes. All that hard work and effort had paid off. With very sore bottoms we all headed to our reserved tables and over brunch it was decided that this was going to be an annual event and there was even some talk of doing it as a 44 kilometre return trip next time!

Overall, a good time, was had by all and a new New Zealand record was set for this class of Dragon boat.

Lake Hood -Nationals 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

Nationals 2014(copy)A few days out from Nationals the big question was “What would the weather be like”.  Having faced the brunt of a very cold and wet experience before at Lake Hood, we studied the weather forecasts with hopeful expectations for a good day. 

On Friday the majority of the team flew to Christchurch together arriving at our motel late afternoon.  After settling in we all took off for an evening meal  and then an early night followed by an early start and a big day ahead! Unfortunately day break didn’t fill us with much optimism for the warm sun-filled day we had hoped for, as the grey skies obscured the morning sun making for a bit of a chilly start to the racing.  However, the conditions were very calm with little or no wind and the sun did manage to break through mid afternoon and was gratefully received.

Racing soon got underway with the 200m races and we completed two heats before our BC final took place.  We put heart and soul into our final and were placed 3rd behind Cansurvive and Boobops.  Some of the team were beginning to feel the cold by this time and hot water bottles, blankets, hats, gloves and anything else that might warm the body became favoured attire back in the tent.

Two more heats were completed for the 500m and then the all-important BC final closely followed by the flower ceremony.  Once again the whole team put in 100% plus, but sadly we were unable to gain a better place against Cansurvive (1st)  and Boobop (2nd), placing us 3rd again  .  All teams rafted up following the race and as we joined together,  friends, family and other teams gathered on the shore.  All four boats locked together as one, focussing our thoughts on our paddling angels.  A haka was performed as the boats drifted slowly towards the shore and a guard of honour formed as the teams alighted from the boats and were high-fived through.

Now it was time to focus on the next race, the 2K, a favourite with the Pinkies.  We were the first boat to set off.  With the excellent skills of our sweep, Annmarie and the enthusiasm of our caller Elaine, we had a great race which, as we found out later at the prize giving, gave us yet another 3rd and a matching set of bronze medals. 

Some of us danced the night away following prize giving while others, exhausted by the day’s efforts, retired in the hope of rejuvenating themselves for another early start to attend the Breast Cancer Breakfast hosted by the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.  Many thanks to NZBCF for another fantastic breakfast; it was very much appreciated by all the BC teams.

All that was left now was to return home triumphant with our medals clinking around our necks enhancing our uniforms, but also a little sad as this marked the end of another paddling season.   With winter training and monthly regattas on the horizon keeping fit through the winter months would still be an option. Pinkies will return next season with renewed enthusiasm and GOLD will be back at the top of our to-do list!!

 

Regionals 2014 - Lake Pupuke

(By Sue Munro)

Ready to go  2 When I first joined the Pink Dragons in December 2013, I was under the impression that it was all about friendship, keeping healthy and strong. Well Regionals certainly were a surprise, this was serious racing and winning a medal was important to the team.
 
Regionals at Lake Pupuke dawned a perfect day. The Auckland Dragon Boating community had worked very hard to set up the area with lanes for racing and pontoons for loading.
 
Our first two races, the 500m heats were all about getting the start right, which we did. We also had a great start in the Breast Cancer 500m final and powered hard to the finish, just trailing behind Boobops who won gold and Cansurvive silver. This put us in the bronze position, and my first medal!
 
The Rose Ceremony was a truly moving experience. All four breast cancer teams remained on the water, rafted up together and following a tribute to friends and family who have helped on our journeys of treatment and recovery, we had a minutes silence to remember the paddlers we have lost. As we paddled back to the pontoons a haka welcomed us ashore and on the hill behind a guard of honour of fellow paddlers formed which we all walked through. Wow, what an honour.
 
The 200m sprint heats were again time to ensure we had “eyes in the boat”, we listened to the starter, 100% ready for the “attention “call. Following a hard power to the finish we were rewarded in the 200m final with a bronze medal, much to our delight.
 
Our final race, the 2K, was a rolling start at 15 second intervals; this gave us a target to chase. As we crossed the finish line we were exhausted as we had given it everything and so it was with great pride we accepted our silver medals that evening.
 
Many thanks to Auckland Dragon Boating, our coach Sooupu and my fellow paddlers for such a memorable day, I’m  loving this sport, bring on Nationals!

Kai Iwi Lakes - 2014

(By Anna Southern)

Kai Iwi 002(copy)The weather was dubious as Lynn and I left Auckland on a bleak Friday afternoon, and we drove north through torrential downpours.  However by the time we arrived at Kai Iwi Lakes, we were welcomed with clear skies and the optimism of a fine weekend. This was my first year at Kai Iwi lakes for the dragon boat training weekend and I was looking forward to not only learning some new skills but enjoying the company of my fellow paddlers beyond the water.  We quickly located our fellow Pinkies already set up in their weekend homes and relaxing as they gazed across the glorious outlook of the lakes. Following time honoured traditions of NZ camping, the tent was quickly erected, gear packed away ready to participate fully in the weekend. The twilight paddle came and went during this time, but I knew there was going to be plenty of opportunity for paddling the next day. For those that did partake it was a glorious way to herald the sun’s departure.

Saturday commenced with the bustle of paddlers readying  for the dawn paddle across to the other side of the lake.  It was a  great way to start the day, paddling with others with those first inspiring sun rays rising over the horizon. 
 
Training session followed after breakfast. As I had joined the Pinkies at the end of last season I decided to start with beginnings group.  The wonderful Alisha did one on one with everyone, and then we proceeded out on the water and were given the opportunity as pairs to stroke until we couldn’t stroke anymore and then some…but still keep the technique correct.  Everyone became competitive to do more strokes than those proceeding so it was some time before we returned to shore. While there was a bit of standing around I had some great discussions with experienced paddlers helping us that were really useful for me.
 
The thing I really liked about the camp is that it was relaxed.  Anyone could join in when and with what they wanted.  A second training came and went for those paddlers whose earlier training session had been shorter. The afternoon provided lots of hilarity with the Les Mans racing.  With four mixed boats – gender, experience and ability and racing that included intermittent back paddling and boat reverse paddling,  the paddlers were put through their paces while those watching on shore were highly entertained.
 
Following the water challenges, land challenges were planned.  The drinking race was stopped mid way with the opening of the heavens and everyone rushing for shelter.  Our good weather had lasted for most of the day, but our social activities looked like they may be curtailed.  Not to be outdone by the weather, gazebo’s were marched across camp to create a big party area, from which everyone watched the evening entertainment of the team talent quest.  The Pink Dragons had come semi prepared and did an excellent rendition of “Show me the way to go home”, even securing a prize. The day ended with dancing for those still with energy left from the day.
 
Our highly anticipated Sunday brunch following a morning swim was reluctantly cancelled due to inclement weather returning and the need to get tents into cars as dry as possible.  However, a stop at Blah Blah Blah café in Dargarville provided a nice conclusion to the weekend before the drive back to Auckland
 
I really enjoyed getting out of Auckland for the weekend with some fun people, doing a bit of dragon boating, learning a few new skills, enjoying great company, being outrageous – it was casual, relaxed, fun and friendly.  I’ll be returning next year.

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Jan 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

pinkies(copy)It was early morning as the teams started gathering at the viaduct to set up gazebos on the site of the new ‘urban beach’ for yet another great days racing.  This year saw more teams than previous years take part, 32 in all, in what is fast becoming a very popular annual event.

The day was perfect for paddlers, friends and supporters and with the Seafood Festival in full swing, crowds of spectators gathered throughout the day, eager to watch the racing!

We were racing in the 10’s boats kitted out with dragon head and tails, drums and callers, always a wonderful sight to see the boats dressed up for the occasion.  Pinkies did well in their heats and managed an overall time that put us into the second final.   Support from friends, family and other teams members gave us heaps of encouragement (always appreciated by the Pinkies!) as we approached the finish line.

Finals completed, another successful Anniversary Day Regatta was done and dusted, our thoughts now turning to our next calendar event, Kia Iwi Boat Camp.

Tauranga Super 12 – 2013

(By Chris Johnson)


Tauranga 2013Boobops managed to pull this special regatta off yet again, not only was it smoothly run, great weather but they also won the BC final again too!  Pinkies gathered together Friday evening prepared for rain or shine and were pleasantly surprised to wake up to clear skies in the morning.A  ll BC teams were welcomed with a magnificent gift basket courtesy of Boobops filled with all kind of goodies to eat.

Our first race of the day was our fastest with a total of five short sprints including a BC final.  We had a good BC race and took 2nd place to Boobops.  After the race the teams rafted together for the flower ceremony with the most amazing smelling roses supplied by a Boobops team member from her own garden.  The music accompanying the ceremony was quite a departure from the norm with an adaptation of a Katy Perry song – ‘Roar’ performed live.

Great hosts gave us all a most enjoyable days racing so thank you once again to Boobops!

 

Hamilton Super 12 – November 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

Hamilton 2013This was the first regatta of the new season and a chance to see how the team were coming together on the water.  It was an early start to the day for team members carpooling to Hamilton but the promise of good paddling weather made the trip all worthwhile. 
 
This was a gentle start to racing as all 5 races were short sprints on the lake, no 2km for us today!  We were pleased with out efforts throughout the day and especially the BC final.  It was a very close call between Boobops and Pinkies.  We rafted up after the race for another very moving Flower Ceremony. The result of the race was announced at the prize giving with just a fraction of a second between us giving Pinkies 2nd place and Boobops 1st.  Tremendous paddling team, keep it up for Tauranga!

Tutukaka Super 12 - 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

photo (48) (240x157)The recently formed dragon boat club at Tutukaka organised their first regatta and invited teams from Auckland to join them for a day of racing and fun on their delightful harbour.  Pink Dragons formed a Super 12 team and joined them for the day along with several other Auckland teams.

Luckily the weather was favourable although a little choppy out on the water.  This led to a few heart raising moments as the old boats rocked dangerously close to capsizing a few times!
 
It was a bit of a mix and match day with the emphasis on fun.  The day started with new paddlers being given a quick induction on the shore on how to paddle and then off into the boats to join more experienced paddlers to have a go. 
 
There were two sprint races followed by a final. Further heats were called off due to the worsening conditions.  The last race was mixed teams made up from anyone who wanted to paddle one more race.  With the risk of capsize very clearly in our minds, some of us decided to quit while we were still reasonably dry!
 
The day was a great success, lots of fun and a great venue; hopefully this will become a regular event on the Auckland dragon boat calendar from now on.

 

Super 10's 28th July 2013

(By Liz Butcher)

IMGL7286 (800x574) (640x459) (230x165)A very pleasant winter day saw the Pink Dragons gather for the winter 10’s racing for July.
There were eight teams at the regatta, including a Paddle Waikato contingent, from whom we managed to borrow a BC paddler. Several 200m races each.
We were a subdued team as we remembered Karen, who so recently became our 3rd Paddling Angel.
We performed all right in the 200m races considering many of us have been on winter break. We felt ok and know we have something to build on.

We were privileged to share a rose ceremony with the Busting with Life Team on the water while a guard of honour formed onshore as we all paid our respects. The flowers were a mixture of blooms from Karen’s hospital room and blooms that had been selected to travel with her to her final resting place in Scotland. The flowers weren’t able to go after all so we released them on her behalf.

The final race of the day was a short 2km. How short? A welcome 1km short. We still did our turns, but not the tortuous course this race has been designed around in the past. At prize giving we were announced 5th! Wow, we were better than we realized….but our self-congratulations faded sheepishly when the results list was found to be faulty.  It was our main opposition who achieved 5th, and we were relegated to 8th. Mostly it was just nice being together, paddling in calm conditions for a change, in St Mary's Bay. A healing day for many of us.

Mothers Day Super 10's

(By Liz Butcher)

Mothers Day Super 10s(copy) A perfect still and sunny day saw several teams gathering for winter paddling races. The Pink Dragons had 10 for their boat. Sooupu was available as our sweep and we recruited a caller from the neighbouring supporters.

First time back for several us had the nerves showing pre-race but as soon as the paddles hit the water we were back in the groove.

Three 200m races then a final. That allowed a slow build up to match fitness. Then the final – what an exciting event. The Pink Dragons came second in a very close and well fought race. Lot’s a smiles and a real confidence boost for the team for competing in an open event.

The last event of the day was a longer race, with tight turns. The course was agreed. The sweeps had their instructions. The teams set off in a staggered start at intervals. The race was 500m, maybe more. After the excitement and success of the 200m’s it would be nice to report an equally impressive result but not so.

Overall, the morning was well spent and highly recommended for winter paddling. A great way to keep the paddle in the water and maintain fitness. The perfect weather was a delightful bonus that all enjoyed.

Nationals - Blue Lake, Rotorua 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

2 bronze 1 gold(copy)I think the photo says it all!  However allow me to elaborate a little on our weekend before I get to the best bit.  The team came well prepared for the chill that Rotorua can have at this time of the year.  Flashbacks to our last visit two years ago was a stark reminder of just what happens when soaking wet clothes meets cold air!  So it was no surprise then, when we arrived at the lake early morning to a chill, brisk wind, that we would be struggling to keep warm.  A very grey cloudy sky prevented the sun from showing it's face most of the morning by which time the cold was penetrating every inch of our wet clothing.  But clouds began to part early afternoon and we were once again blessed with the kiss of the sun and oh, how good that felt!
 
Our racing started with heats of 500m followed by our BC final.  Lining the boats up at the start proved very tricky for sweeps as the relentless wind spun the boats out of their lanes in all directions.  We were fired up to give this race our all but alas it proved not to be good enough to take the gold that we had so much wanted.  Boobops took 1st, Busting with Life 2nd and Pink Dragons 3rd.  But we were not beaten yet there were still two more BC finals to race in.  However the Flower Ceremony was our first priority and all boats rafted together after the race finished to remember those no longer with us.  The teams united as they held pink roses high in the air and the boats drifted towards the shore lined with paddlers, friends and supporters.  Once again a Haka was performed to honour us ladies, an emotional experience every time.
 
Now for the best bit!  It would be fair to say that races can be won or lost at the start line and today luck was with us in the 200m, helped enormously by the skills of our sweep, Anne-Marie.  The whole race was over in a flash and at first we weren’t absolutely sure if we had won but the beaming face of our coach Soupu from the shore confirmed that we had just nailed that much wanted GOLD medal.  What a moment that was, a huge cheer went up from our boat and I think I am speaking on behalf of the whole team when I say it was the biggest high we’ve ever had following a race!  Epson girls Grammar formed a guard of honour for us on the beach with chants of ‘PINK DRAGONS, PINK DRAGONS’  followed by a guard of honour by other teams that just seemed to go on forever!
 
One more race to go, the 2000km, a race that we always want to do well in.  Despite nearly loosing our sweep at one point we had a good race, but again not good enough to take that gold away from Boobops or the silver from Busting, Pinkies taking the bronze.
 
Receiving our gold(copy)Never did a hot tub feel as good as it did when we returned triumphant to our motel for a quick dip before dinner.  The Pinkies mood was one of great excitement as we anticipated receiving our gold and bronze medals that evening.  Medals received, hugs, kisses, photos, a drink (if you were lucky) and then for most of the team back to the motel for that long awaited wind down and sleep.
 

Early Sunday morning most of us refreshed, (some not quite) were ready in our smart new uniforms to attend the BC breakfast, a chance to reunite once again with all the BC teams courtesy of NZBCF.  There were some very inspirational speakers from the teams reminding us of just why we paddle.  Time for a last team farewell with hugs and kisses all round and with jingling medals, a triumphant return to Auckland.  It may be the end of the season but not entirely for paddling as we now look forward to winter training and Super 10’s fun regattas.  WELL DONE PINKIES, SEE YOU ALL THERE!!!

Regionals - Lake Pupuke 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

Flower ceremony(copy)It’s that time of year again in the dragon boat calendar where all those weeks of team training will dictate how we perform and the competition starts to get serious!

It was obvious from the outset that the day promised to be kind to us weather-wise with light fluffy clouds gently wafting across the sparkling but somewhat receding lake.  With a light wind, this was looking to be a good paddling day.  Promises were kept but with the breeze just strengthening slightly sweeps had their work cut out to get boats lined up at the start.
 
The days’ programme started with two heats of 500m races followed by the Breast Cancer final.  Pinkies gained their first medal, a bronze, not really our preferred colour but hey it’s a medal!
 
The flower ceremony followed immediately after the final. The beautiful roses were donated by Van Lier Nurseries for the ceremony, check them out at wwvanlier.co.nz.      For many newbies this was a first as they experienced the emotion of the ceremony as the boats rafted together.  Every woman on board united by their own experiences and remembering friends, family and team members who have lost their battle against breast cancer.  The roses were held high and finally cast into the water where they settled amongst the lily pads by the bank as a memory to those brave ladies no longer with us.
 
The programme continued with the heats for 200m and we were very disappointed to just miss out on a medal in this final.  Disappointment put aside, the team were ready for the next challenge, the 2km, an event that we as a team were very determined to do well in.  The race went well and we gained our second medal of the day, silver this time, joint 2nd place with Busting With Life.  Overall Boobops wiped the board with their 3 gold medals – well done to them but we haven’t given up yet!
 
The ADBA’s excellent organisation of the whole event was superb especially in overcoming the challenge of crew loading with a record low water line!  As a team we had a great day and it only remains to mention our appreciation for the Haka that was performed for the breast cancer teams following the flower ceremony and the amazing guard of honour formed by so many paddlers.  Never have we seen a line so long – a very humbling experience!

Make-a-Wish - Gulf Harbour 2013

(by Liz Butcher)

Make a wish(copy)(copy)(copy)Sunday training for the 3rd of March was an all day affair at Gulf Harbour shared with other ADBA teams. This was a great opportunity to prepare for a full day event giving us multiple races rather than the usual one hour practice as we ready ourselves for the coming Regional’s. The Pinkies had 2 teams entered. With 18 in the squad available which meant we had an overlap in each boat ensuring we all had plenty of opportunity to race often.
 
After days (weeks) of hot dry weather, we had a pre-start scare that rain was finally arriving but that was just a tease and we soon had another hot day on the water. The ADBA ran the competitions in their usual friendly and efficient way ensuring every team raced every other team.  The races were held in a small viaduct by the Field of Dreams – an outdoor cinema. Gulf Harbour is being developed and the area we used was great for our needs. The reason we were there was to support the Make A Wish foundation’s fun day to raise money for the great job they do in granting wishes to sick children. At the end of the day ADBA was able to present over $500 raised by the dragon boat event.
 
There was great excitement when the Pinkies 2 boat won their race in the finals. We benefited from having Sooupu as our sweep. He taught us all (other boats included) a lesson on positioning at the race start. His enthusiasm (shouting) helped lift us all the way to the finish. Since we know how that feels we have to take that learning to the Regional’s and do it again – but without Sooupu in the boat with us.
 
Being a fun day, teams were encouraged to dress up in costume. Some were very creative. Our own pinkies wore our race uniforms (we mean business!) with pink embellishments (we can have fun too!).  Our two gazebos, were festooned in pink feathers and flowers. There was a great camaraderie between teams. All would agree it was an excellent day out.

Kai Iwi Boat Camp - 2013

An account of the weekend by Liz, one of our newbies!

10 Feb 2013 Kai Iwi Lakes Dragon Camp 007  2 There’s the sound of a piston in my ears – in fact the sound of a whole engine room full of pistons. We are ploughing ahead through and across the water. Our arms the pistons, bodies rocking with technique and timing, the dragon boat the engine room and the heart of the boat is the team. The sound of the water washing along the boat as it’s passed from the front to the back. Sooupu yelling behind us to reach. What a magnificent feeling when it all comes together. Even if that’s only for the moment before my body starts complaining and my mind wonders how much longer I can keep this up. Actually the truth is the magnificent feeling is when my body complains and my head says stop and I keep going anyway.

Dragon camp at Kai Iwi Lakes. What a fabulous weekend. What a fabulous group of people. What a fabulous experience. The weather report was for sun and that is what we got.

Arriving on Friday afternoon with Robin, checking out the camp grounds and setting up camp. Finding the other Pinkies and friends. Setting up the gazebo and shared area. All that takes time. We picked a corner position close to the paddling end of the camp (some say “party central”). As far from the loo block as we could get, I think. Great toilet facility but a damn long walk in the dark!! I did mention the trees looked handy but was advised by Robin it was not the done thing! It was a joke on my part but in the “wee” hours of the morning I was wishing the loo block was closer to home.

First up was an evening paddle for all those who organized themselves well enough to arrive in time or who didn’t mind putting up a tent in the dark. Robin and I were there but missed the boat – I think by the amount of time it took to cull all the surplus stuff I had before we could set off; or maybe by the time it took us to set up the tent and get the framing to behave or to work out the strings that hold everything in place. We were lucky enough that the boat came back and enough got out to let a few more in. Thanks to those that went out again with us and those that let us in.

Then, there was time to set up air beds and shake out the sleeping bags before joining the other Pinkies settling into their new home away from home for some socializing while the team managers had their meeting to cook up the plans for torturing, I mean tutoring, us the next day.

Robin set her alarm ready for the morning paddle – we were not going to miss that boat. Turns out my cell phone alarm goes even Liz at Kai Iwiwhen switched off, so we were up earlier than expected. The sun rose slowly and gently over the hills across the lake from us. It was soft and pink as it broke then once my camera was away and we headed to the boats for the promised 7am paddle we were given a dazzling display of rich orange as the sun cleared the hills and shone across the water.

Four boats went out across to the other side and back. A perfect start to a great weekend. The first set of wet clothes for Robin’s trusty washing line.  Back at camp it was breakfast time and time to prepare for a 2-3 hour training session starting at 10am where we were divided into newbies, intermediate and hardcore!

I am a newbie, there were a lot of us – excellent! That means the sport is healthy. There were also a large number in the intermediate, another good sign.  For the newbies, Alesha gave us individual coaching. She didn’t take the boat out for a while, instead we had technique training then an individual assessment.  Before going out everyone in the group had to say what they wanted to learn, or clarify. It was good for us to realize the questions we had were often the same as others. Then the weather changed and we did get in the boat and headed around to the sheltered bay. A chance to show our new learning and finish the individual coaching.

The day then became a wonderful programme of boating events interspersed with eating opportunities.  So, lunch and back to the boats and more paddling. The lakes are just lovely. With a hot day the water is warm and wonderful. A chance to put into practice our training. And of course… race! Wow! Not sure how fast we went but surely there was a record broken! Ok – maybe not… just a personal best for me.

Then le mans… oh lord! Prayer is a friend of mine. I pray just to keep going some days. Races are hard. We train for races. This is not a Sunday paddle. Wow, what great fun! There was a course set, there were instructions involving a ball. There were lessons on right of way at the buoy. Not sure what happened about the ball but that didn’t quite work out. As for right of way… might is right! Ok – maybe not, there are rules… no one fell out. Until later. I’m glad I wasn’t in the boat that capsized. It was a controlled capsize and a lesson for us all.  Next, it was play time. Could a dragon boat drag a skier? Yes, they could but not for long. Someone did get up, nearly. I have a picture to prove it. A great sight and an excellent effort all round.

Robin wasn’t finished with me yet. Since the water was there and we needed to get wet it was a perfect opportunity for the swim test. Bella was rounded up as well and I am pleased to say I am expecting my 50m swimming certificate any day soon in the mail. Bella dashed off to her tent after and came back with soap! Smart thinking!!

So, what was left for the day? Dinner and a dance. A seriously full day and a fun packed evening. A stage was set in front of the main gazebo and car lights had to be found for lighting. All the teams were to prepare a skit. Some put in more practice than others. Ours being one of the others. Oh dear! A moment of panic. A decision that we abandon all hope then our team was called and we took the stage – all of us. I am pleased to say we won a box of chocolates. Some people thought we were robbed and should have got first prize. We were there though. If we were going to be fools, we were fools together. That is a team! The acts we followed were great and showed a lot more practice than ours but we were there to paddle not sing. We took our paddles to the “stage” and what started out as a gentle rendition of Rock the Boat soon become a pole dance act. There were timing issues and I think that is why we didn’t win… well done ladies anyway. The teams that did not prepare a skit were called to the stage and given their penance. What a great evening.  With the acts finished people either headed to their own little groups or found their beds. Some went night fishing and cooked up a small feast of yabbies! The music went on (and on) and a happy camp settled. If this is camping, it is not to be missed.

I was on my own mission though. I wanted a picture of the sunrise. Having seen the beautiful sunrise that morning I was determined to get a photograph the next day. Robin and I were up early and headed to the toilet block and found the best vantage point for the photos. Lovely. A slow gentle start to the day with a cup of tea at the Busting camp, as the rest of the camp rose at their own pace and started the process of de-camping. Breakfast, take the tent down, pack the car and wave good bye Kai Iwi Lakes. Ahhhh… wonderful!

What I learned in the weekend
- the alarm on my cell phone goes even when the phone is turned off
- if you’re late you miss the boat
- if you’re lucky the boat comes back for you – if they have an empty seat
- it’s a good idea to plan your meals with your buddies so you don’t take excess food
- you do not need half the things you take – you are not gone that long from civilization
- you can not find the thing you are looking for anyway – even though it was packed
- pack plenty of knickers and pants – they keep getting wet
- the sun rises between 6:30 and 7:00
- it’s a good idea to practice your skit if you have to perform one
- it’s good to have a team with you even if you haven’t practiced the skit
- if Lyn has a paddle and an audience – she’ll use it for pole dancing
- timing is good and when you have it it’s wonderful – but just keep going anyway
- breathing is good – don’t forget it
- if Sooupu gets anywhere near another boat there will be a race – one there and one back (actually, I knew that already)
- a team of dragons can tow a water skier – nearly
- it’s fun finding that out
- dragon boaters are great people
- lean forward, shoulder over knee, draw back using legs, twist shoulders as you go… and power!
- grab the water the person pushes your way and push it on back to the next
- breathe

Auckland Anniversary Day - Super 10’s 2013

viaduct 2013The forecast was for another resoundingly spectacular day as the teams began setting up in the viaduct for what has become an ever growing regatta.  For the first time Pink Dragons entered two teams and the competition within the team was heightened as we competed to outdo each other! 
 
The crowds began to increase throughout the day with tourists, supporters and spectators just soaking up the atmosphere in and around the viaduct.  We raced splash and dash heats against mixed teams in our new 10 person boats.  There was much excitement within our 2 teams as we cheered and shouted for each other.  With no direct competition between team 1 and 2 it was all down to the team with the best results overall.  It was unanimously agreed that team 2 came out on top – so well done to them!
 
This regatta has grown immensely over the past three years and hopefully still growing.  With it’s special atmosphere, support from the Auckland Dragon Boat Association and Auckland Council it’s future is, hopefully, secure.   The Pinkies will be back for sure next year!

Wenderholm  2012

Tug a war Wenderholm 1A perfect day greeted us as we arrived at Wenderholm  with the expectation of a great day of racing, sun, sea and sand, what more could you ask for!
 
The racing got off to a start with an incoming tide making loading the boats quite tricky as we negotiated the waves.  Once we were away from the shore it was all good and  as the day progressed loading the boats became a good deal easier as the tide gradually retreated.  Our newbies took it all in their stride and thoroughly enjoyed their first regatta with the team.
 
We enjoyed a shared lunch and a visit from santa himself.  Unfortunately one of our team members got more than she bargained for when one of his lolly’s hit her on the mouth and gave her a bit of a fat lip!  Team tug-of-war followed but unfortunately we were beaten by Busting with Life.
 
The last race of the day was a relay race with four teams made up of paddlers from different teams.  It was great fun, especially when a wave capsized the leading boat, out spilling all paddlers into the sea.  It just shows the unexpected can happen just when you think you’ve got the race in the bag!
 
After last years complete wash out at Wenderholm, this year was a resounding success.  Hope next year will be just as good, looking forward to it already!

Tauranga Super 12 - 2012

Paddling out Tauranga 1 1The paddling gods were with us today,  all those rain dances must have worked this time!  Instead of trying to keep out of the rain we were trying to stay out of the sun – but we weren’t complaining.

Boobops once again managed and organised the event and the day went off without a hitch.  The breast cancer teams were lucky enough to be presented with a gift basket for each team full of fruit and goodies, so thank you to those who organised them.

Pink Dragons race results presented no real victory for us in the breast cancer race as Boobops took 1st place, Busting with Life just managing to pull ahead of us to take 2nd place and Pink Dragons 3rd.  The flowers for the ceremony following the race were beautiful and as last year, were picked by one of Boobops team members from her own garden.  Mark Tauranga 1

Another great weekend, with lots of laughs shared. Thanks also to our team member for the day, Mark for stepping up and padding with us and being such a good sport!

Hamilton Super 12 - 2012

Hamilton 2012 1With rain forecast for the day, the expectation was that it would be a wet and cold experience.  It was no surprise therefore that it did indeed rain all day!  However team spirit was good and we all made the most of the day. 
 
The breast cancer final was a very close call, with Boobops just taking 1st from us with a tiny lead.  A flower ceremony followed to honour our paddling angels.
 
Then time to pack up in the rain and get soaking wet clothing replaced with dry before the long drive home. Despite the rain, we had a good day, better luck next year with the weather hopefully!

Paddle for Hope  2012

Pink Dragons SUP teamThe weather turned up trumps for this event held at the Auckland viaduct. A fun annual festival of Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) devised by breast cancer survivor Karin Horen to raise money for breast cancer awareness.  Pink Dragons entered a team comprising two members and one seconded for the day!   After some practice paddling and a spot of yoga to limber up, the race was on with teams in all manner of fancy dress.  We didn’t win but we didn’t disgrace ourselves either by coming last  A great venue, great weather and great fun what more could you ask for!

 

 

The Pink Dragons baring all for a good cause

Calendar girlsEight members of the Pink dragons team were invited to be part of this year's Pink Ribbon Calendar. Art Directors Anna Molineaux and Cathy Davies, both highly respected body artists, had a unique challenge to paint one pink dragon on 8 bodies. The painting took 10 hours to complete and started with a simple sketch across all of the girls and then each of the Pinkies were painted individually. At the end of the day they fitted together to form this beautiful Pink Dragon symbolizing strength and togetherness.

As their October quote reads - 'Oh my friends, it's not what they have taken away from you that counts - it's what you do with what you have left'.

The calendar is available in all Whitcoulls stores or on line at
www.pinkribboncalendar.co.nz
Please support this wonderful fundraising event - $10 from every calendar goes to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

Splash & Dash Super 10 - September 2012

Super 10 Splash and DashOnce again ten members of the Pink Dragons team gathered with fellow paddlers at Westhaven for a morning of racing and to have some fun at the same time.  A keen southerly made racing pretty chilly especially when we were wet through, but glimpses of the sun occasionally gave us the opportunity to warm up.

Fun we certainly had as we took part in a couple of sprint races, a final and a timed circuit course.  This last timed race proved to be very interesting as we paddled 360º around several marker buoys.  At one point we had a close encounter with another boat but our sweep, who coaches Shirley Boys High in Christchurch, steered us out of trouble and nobody ended up in the water.  However seeing a dragons head heading straight towards you is pretty alarming!

The results of the mornings racing wasn’t as important as getting together with other team members, catching up with everyone and doing what we love to do most PADDLING!!!

Pink Ribbon Breakfast -2012

 
Pink Ribbon Breakfast 2One of our Pinkies kindly hosted a Pink Ribbon Breakfast at her house one Sunday morning.  Pink was the order of the day with pink nibbles and balloons galore.  The breakfast was well attended by pinkies and friends, many wearing pink themselves, we even had a pink fairy in our midst!
 
Everyone gave generously, bought raffle tickets and Pink Ribbon merchandise.  The grand total collected was $334 and this money will go towards funding community outreach programmes throughout the country. The programmes help to heighten community awareness of breast cancer and provide support that assists to improve the quality of life of people affected by breast cancer in New Zealand.  As breast cancer survivors we know how important these programmes are and that this will be money well spent.

Hot Rocking Super 10’s - Westhaven  - May 2012

 
May 10s at Pier X   CopyPicture the scene as we arrived early morning at Westhaven, a blanket of fog swirling over the water giving a cold almost spooky feel to the ocean.  Then out of the mist slowly emerge our dragon boats silently gliding through the water, what an amazing entrance for our new super 10 boats.  Then the fog began to lift to the promise of a good morning ahead and by the look of some of our Pinkies a lot of fun too!
 
We were told to dress for the occasion and we certainly did!  Out came our new pink and black woolly hats; on went pink feather boas and pink flower lays and even a pink wig, what a sight we must have looked! 
 
We competed in two short races before a final, followed by a longer race which involved several 180º‘s and a 360º hand brake turn!  The sweeps are loving these new short boats as they manoeuvre so easily around tight turns. We were amazed to hear that we had achieved the fourth fastest time in this race – well done Pinkies!  This was a ‘fun’ regatta and we all certainly had a lot of that today, bring on the next one.

Hammerheads Evening – 2012

 
Annemarie with awardOnce again the team were all invited to attend an evening get-together at the exceptional location of Hammerheads organised by our Captain, Paula, who is both partner in the restaurant and one of our sponsors.  Food and drink was supplied by Paula and was, as usual, plentiful and delicious.
 
The evening is primarily to thank all our sponsors, unfortunately none were able to attend this year but our thanks goes out to them anyway.  Without their funding we would not be able to train, enter regattas or be kitted out with uniforms.  However we were pleased to welcome two representatives from Auckland Dragon Boat Association this year who presented us with gold medals for our win in the Regional 2000m race.  The whole team were overjoyed to receive their first gold medal!

Besides enjoying a team reunion the evening presents an opportunity to announce the Team Member of the Year award.  This year it went to Annemarie Stevens for her remarkable effort to train as a sweep for the team.  She showed great confidence and ability as she took on what is a very difficult job.  The whole team were unanimous in their approval of this years’ choice, CONGRATULATIONS ANNEMARIE!

Auckland Anniversary Day

Racing in the finals  1A Rookie's recall of her first Regatta

Auckland really knows how to celebrate it's birthday.  Despite weeks of miserable weather leading up to the event, the sun was glistening on the water in the Viaduct,  welcoming me to my very first Dragon Boating event.
 
Amidst the crowds of colourful sporting uniforms, banners and throngs of tents,  I managed to find the sea of candy pink singlets indicating that my team, The Pink Dragons, were set up for the day and ready to compete.  The Viaduct was alive with drums, boats and people.  I wasn't sure of what to expect, but was quickly reassured by team members about the events for the day, and our plan of attack.   The nerves were building before the first race, fueled by the crowds and the insistency of the drums. It seemed almost incongruous to be in a dragon boat in the narrow Viaduct channel, flanked by Mega-yachts!
 
Not only was I a rookie to dragon boat racing, I was also just released from my treatment program for breast cancer,  my year to date being filled with doctors, operations, chemotherapy and radiation.  It was timed perfectly for me to begin training with the team, and I couldn't think of a better way than paddling twice a week in the Westhaven Marina to banish the demons of a not so great year.  The fitness and companionship with a group of women who had been through the same experience was invaluable.
 
The races were over in a flash, our results were forgotten just as quickly, as we entered the gangplank of hand slapping and comraderie, as each race ended.   The crowd was amazing and so was the spectacular venue.  As far as a rookie racing for the first time, it couldn't get any better. This competition was just the appetizer for the events to come, but like a memorable meal, is not one that is easily forgotten, with a perfect balance of competition coupled with a glamour location.  Happy birthday Auckland!

Nationals Lake Hood - 2012

Medals Lake Hood 2012 1Memories of our last Nationals at Lake Hood were still in the forefront of many of the  Pinkies minds.  The extreme cold of that day chilled our bodies to the bone and thus made us pack to be prepared for the worst!  We need not have worried because the day couldn’t have been any different from that last one.  A crisp morning was followed by sunshine throughout the day and everyone gave a sigh of relief.

With such good conditions our Pink Dragons sweep, Annemarie, was able to take up the challenge to test her sweeping skills in the most important event of the year.  She rose to every challenge and showed the team that she had indeed mastered the skill of sweeping – well done Annemarie!

The racing got off to a bit of a late start and after two heats of 500m races we were preparing for the breast cancer final.  A close call as usual and we took third place with Boobops taking 1st and CanSurvive 2nd.  The flower ceremony took place immediately following the race and as we came ashore we were honoured with a haka performed by some of the high school boys.

The 200m also gave us 3rd place for the breast cancer teams as did the 2000m.  One or two hiccups during this race may have lost us vital seconds that could have given us 2nd place.  However, the team were more than happy with their effort; after all, we came away with three bronze medals and were delighted to be presented with so much bling!

Following the presentation most of the team returned to the accommodation to mull over the events of the day with a well earned glass of wine beside the warm glow of the fire before retiring to bed.  The following morning was an early start for the drive back to Ashburton to attend the Breast Cancer Breakfast with other BC teams.  After breakfast and some farewells to old friends, the Pink Dragons headed off to Christchurch for a tour of the city, with it’s sad reminders of the devastating earthquake that tore it apart.  Then it was time to head off to the airport for our return to Auckland.

This weekend has meant more than just winning medals, it has brought out the team spirit and camaraderie of twenty-four survivors brought together by a common experience and a passion for dragon boating and without this the team could not exist.  Next season ‘go harder pinkies’ we’ve still got unfinished business of a goal not yet achieved!


Regionals Lake Pupuke – 2012

Arriving at the Lake in the morning the team could see they were going to be in for a rough ride!  The wind was whipping the lake into a frenzy of waves and promised to make paddling today more like a white water event with challenges all round for both paddlers and sweeps.

Today our Pink Dragons sweep, Annemarie, was to sweep for us in her first regional regatta.  With the prevailing conditions all the new sweeps found lining the boats up at the start line challenging.  In our first 500m we collided with a boat in the next lane as their boat edged nearer and nearer to ours and finally locked the two boats together momentarily.  In the second race a boat capsized, whew! It wasn’t us!  Officials announced that only experienced pool sweeps would be used for safety unless conditions improved.

The cross wind didn’t let up as we all paddled through the heats and the team was delighted to be awarded three trophies.  One for 3rd place in the 200m, 3rd in 2000m  Premier Women’s Division and best of all a 1st for the fasted breast cancer team in the 2000m.  A great result for all our hard work!

Once again we remembered our ‘paddling angels’ in a moving flower ceremony and as usual there was tremendous support from all teams and spectators.

The team was more than satisfied with their achievements today and I know we’ll do our best to do even better at the Nationals next weekend.  Kia Kaha Pink Dragons!


Kai Iwi Lakes Summer Dragon Boat Camp

Kai Iwi LakesThe third annual dragon boat camp kicked off on Friday, February 10, with 10 members of the Pink Dragons team and two Under 23 paddlers who accompanied their mums. 

On Friday evening conditions on the lake were absolutely superb for the sunset paddle, but unfortunately Pinkies missed the boats, literally, and stood forlornly on the shore, but admiring the sunset nevertheless.  Our next chance for a “leisurely” paddle was the sunrise Tour de Lake at 7am on Saturday.  The great thing about the DB camp is that all crews are mixed, so it’s a good opportunity to meet other dragon boaters we might never encounter except under competition conditions.

At 9 am we were divided into Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice groupings.  I was most impressed to see the size of the Novice group.  This season’s recruitment campaign has obviously been most successful.  The Advanced group was defined as comprising paddlers who have been dragon boating for 5 years or more, the Intermediate group 2-4 years and the Novices under 2 years.  Nothing about how fit we are!

With Sooupu at the helm of our Advanced group boat and Chris Stone in the bow, the next hour and a half was a gruelling session of stretching us to our limits and trying out race formats.  There were 4 of us Pinkies and a boatload of fit young people.  But we held our own and managed to walk, unaided, off the boat at the end. The intermediate group were also pushed to their limits and I believe the Novices were out under the command of a hard taskmaster, for a good two hours!

After lunch followed more training and the nice thing about this camp is that nothing is compulsory.  Most of us turned up for the team relay races at in the afternoon. The first 4 boats raced Le Mans style from the shallows, via a triangular course, back to the beach, tagged our next team who did the same, then the first pair of teams with all members ashore and Hi-Fived to the end were the winners.  Some of the Pinkies managed all the training AND the races.  Go girls!

Team races 1The fine weather faltered in the middle of Saturday, but was fine again by the evening. Happy Hour almost became dinner, as we shared our snacks and cooked our camp dinners before heading off to the fun and games of land races.  Amazingly, some still had the energy to participate in the relay races which involved mind-altering beverages, plus mind-altering actions with a paddle that made running in a straight line something of a challenge and a source of hilarity for the spectators.

The balmy evening encouraged chatting, laughing, singing and dancing until the 10.30 curfew of the campground.  The snores audible throughout the campground testified to some sound sleeps that night.

Sunday dawned sunny and hot again, and the real world began to intrude upon our idyllic camp.  Some had to depart early, and some of us took our time packing up and having a last lazy swim before heading back to Auckland.

Chris Stone and his AklDBA committee did a fine job of organising this increasingly popular highlight of the dragon boat season.  We Pinkies who attended would like to encourage even more of our members to join us next February at Kai Iwi Lakes.

 

Hamilton Super 12 - 2011

pinkies under cover 1I think it would be fair to say that most of the team came prepared for a reasonably warm sunny day’s racing at the Lake today.  No-one could have guessed how unpredictable the weather would be!  Gusts of wind began to pick up in the morning and so did the gazebos! 
 
Our first race didn’t go quite to plan, with a false start as some of our team thought they heard someone shout ‘GO’ and did just that and the rest of the team decided they’d better go too!  Part way through the race we were clipped from behind by another boat and our sweep (not Sooupu) veered across several lanes in an attempt to avoid a collision.  Most of us wondered what on earth was happening but just carried on paddling as we’ve been taught to and we came 2nd!  Subsequent races saw us placed 2nd, 3rd, 2nd and in the Breast Cancer Final we were 2nd.
 
It was just around lunch time that the first sudden deluge of rain caught us out with everyone desperately scrambling for any kind of cover they could find.  Once we were all well and truly soaked through the rain stopped and the sun came out once again and racing continued.  Ominous grey clouds started to gather as we loaded the boats for the Breast Cancer Final.  As we raced to the finish line the heavens opened on us in a torrent of rain.  Four boats laden with rain drenched paddlers, callers and sweeps rafted up reluctantly for the flower ceremony, limply holding their flowers aloft.  Our sweep, Sooupu shouted, “Forget the music, just throw the flowers”.   Flowers thrown, the boats headed back to the shore following the quickest flower ceremony ever!
 
As we all packed up our soggy gear the skies gradually cleared and by the time we set off for home it turned out to be a rather fine evening.  We had a great days racing, our results proved that and the rest, well we can just look back and laugh about it now and look forward to the next regatta.

 

Tauranga Super 12 – 2011

New look Pinkies 2There was quite an excited buzz amongst the team on Friday evening as individuals arrived at the accommodation and were issued with their long awaited new team racing shirts.  Lots of discussion and thought had gone into the design of these shirts  and here they were at last to be premiered at tomorrow’s regatta!

Unfortunately the wind was taken out of our sails as soon as we reached the venue  we realised the old boats would be in use and would snag our beautiful new shirts on their high sides!  So photos taken, off they came and on went the old shirts instead.  That aside, once again Boobops did us all proud, with an excellently organised event.  All the breast cancer survivor teams again received a wonderful basket of goodies which was very much appreciated by the team.

We took part in two races before the breast cancer race.  Boobops took first place by a boats length and Pink Dragons just beat Busting to the line for second place.  The race was then followed by a very moving flower ceremony.  The beautiful roses were provided by one of Boobops own team members from her garden.

One more race bought the days racing to an end for us and it was time to pack up and set off for the long drive home.  It had been another successful day’s paddling and I think the team would all agree that we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to take part in such a wonderful sport!
 

Splash & Dash Super 12 Westhaven – 2011

Pinkies at Splash   DashAs the Pinkies assembled for our first fun dragon boat regatta of the new season there were some very grey clouds gathering overhead.  Would they dampen our enthusiasm today or would our keenness to paddle after a long break override a shower or two?

There was lots of excited chatter as we greeted old team buddies and welcomed some new ones.  Today was all about having fun with rules also relaxed a little, hence we were joined by one or two members from other teams to make up our numbers.

All the races were short and sweet approx 250m with three boats per race, perfect for the start of the season as some of us had limbs and muscles that were a bit out of practice!
Our races went well and we surprised ourselves with good finishes.  In the final we managed first place, a result the team were more than happy with for our first regatta of the season. 
This was a great start now we just need to knuckle down to training and go from strength to strength and we’ll be right Pinkies!

 

Nationals -Blue Lake Rotorua 2011

Blue_lake_1.JPGWe were pre-warned that the forecast for the Nationals would be rain and we were not disappointed!  Most of the team arrived at various times on Friday and after an early night we woke Saturday to a dry morning and were teased  with a ray of hope, soon to be dashed, as we arrived at the lake and the first of the rain dampened our day.  Rain or shine however cannot take away from the sheer magic of this lake and whatever the weather it’s a privilege to be part of this event!

We worked our way through the heats keeping a careful watch on our times and how we might ‘fine tune’ before the breast cancer final.  This race is always such an important one for us as a team and as always we put our heart and soul into it.  It wasn’t enough however, and we came third and another bronze medal for the collection.

The disappointment of another year without a gold medal was soon put aside as the boats rafted up together for the flower ceremony and we gave a few moments of thought and prayer for our paddling angels and then cast our flowers onto the lake.

This year there were two new race categories to enter – a 250 metre sprint and a 2 kilometre race.  The 250 metre sprint should have The_happy_team_1.JPGbeen a breeze for us BUT – we panicked and our paddling turned to s*!t.  Oh well we’ll learn by our mistakes.  On the other hand we entered the 2k race with no expectation other than to paddle at a steady pace and finish it.  But as we got into the rhythm we began to pick up the pace and suddenly it was game on!  We were racing for a place and we got a well deserved third – not bad considering we were up against teams that were non-breast cancer too!  We were pretty proud of ourselves as I don’t think any of us thought we had anything left at the end of the day to give to that race, but it just shows that when that adrenaline kicks in anything is possible.

After a wonderful breakfast sponsored and organised by NZBCF for all the breast cancer survivor teams we left Rotorua tired, and I hope, with some good memories of a great weekend despite the rain.  Lets hope next time we return it will be to a glorious day of sunshine – fingers crossed!!!

Regionals - Lake Pupuke 2011

Manju_and_Marie.JPGThe lake put on its best glistening sparkle for us as the sun shone down on it for the Regionals and produced a great days’ racing for all.  We had yet another close Breast Cancer Final placing Pink Dragons in 3rd place, Boobops 2nd and another victory for Busting with life in 1st place.  It was a chance also for two of our newest members to experience the challenge of competitive racing.  Here’s how Manju writes about her first experience. (Manju on left Marie on Right)

“I have been lucky, really lucky, I had been asked if I could paddle for  the regionals at Lake Pupuke. Could a day be more perfect? I didn’t know what to expect, but by now I have so much faith in my team that I would brave anything as long as I was in the same boat as them.

By now, I have known a bit more of each of their journeys and I am so inspired by the courage and strength that each one has that I feel its a privilege to be able to paddle with one… so paddling with 19 of the most awesome women I have come across is something amazing. Our team completed six races and I received my first bronze medal, not just the first medal for dragon boating, but the first in my whole life!  The races were tough but the ‘Flower Ceremony’ was tougher.  Today at my first flower ceremony I found it profoundly moving and strengthening. I wish more women would have the luck to learn from my pink sisters as I have.

Six races to complete on a day was tough and if I thought that racing in a breast cancer survivor team was wishy-washy, I was wrong,  You could cut the air with a knife, and gritty determination ruled all the teams. Our competition was awesome, truly worthy of respect, and the underlying emotion for all of us was “ We’re all in the same boat”.

Tauranga Super 12 – Tauriko Lake - 2011


Ready_to_race_1.JPGThis year the Super 12 regatta was held for the first time at the beautiful setting of the Tauriko manmade Lakes, a superb location just a short distance out of Tauranga.  The Boobops team did a magnificent job of organising the event and the day was blessed with heaps of sunshine to aid, what was to be a day of good paddling, fun and great camaraderie.

Our first two races were against non-breast cancer teams and although we paddled our hearts out we are very rarely a match for these teams as they always include big burley male paddlers with strong arm muscles and today was no exception!

During the morning, to our delight, Boobops organised and delivered beautiful baskets of morning tea for the breast cancer teams, full of all kinds of goodies to eat.  Thank you so much!  It was obvious from the way everyone was tucking in that it was really appreciated!

This breast cancer race was particularly poignant for us as a few days previously we had lost a dear member of our paddling team, Leonie to breast cancer.  We paddled the race for her and as the boats rafted up for the flower ceremony our thoughts and hearts were for our paddling angel and all the others who had gone before.

We paddled well the rest of the day and we made it into a final, but alas for all our effort we took fourth place.  However, we didn’t go home feeling despondent, we’d had a wonderful day hosted by Boobops who’d made us feel so very welcome, a big THANK YOU once again for all their efforts.

Auckland Anniversary Day  - Super 16 Regatta 2011 

Auckland_Anniversary_Day_.JPGThe Viaduct harbour always proves to be the setting for a great days racing and today was no exception.  With the Seafood Festival in full swing along one side, restaurants, cafes and bars geared themselves up for a busy day ahead.The scene was completed by a line of tightly packed together gazebos belonging to the dragon boat teams, all ready for some fun and action.

We were up against some strong opposition as all teams taking part were non-breast cancer apart from Busting with Life.  Three boats took part in most races and you could say we were very consistent throughout the day, taking 3rd place in each of our rounds (yes that does mean we were last) until our final that is!

Our final consisted of three all woman teams; two breast cancer, Pink Dragons and Busting with Life and Jaffettes, a non-breast cancer team.  We’ve never managed to beat Busting yet but today we paddled our socks off and we did it!! It was a close race but the result was Jaffettes took first place by a fraction of a second.  Even though we didn’t win it was still a good result for us.

It was a great day not just for the paddlers but also for all the spectators who came to watch, including supporters for family and friends that cheered us on.  I’m sure we all hope this will become an annual event on the Auckland dragon boat calendar from now on.

Wenderholm Funday Regatta - 11 Dec 2010


Santa_comes_to_Wenderholm_1.JPGAnother fun day was had at The Wenderholm Beach Regatta. The weather stayed dry and we all stayed entertained. 

The first of 3 races before lunch had us all paddling our hearts out over the 500m distance. With warm water and not too choppy waves we got third. Third was very much the result of the day as we battled against Random Jaffa women, Busting with life and White Tigers to name but a few in our subsequent races.

Beach races are always fun, as to finish teams have to beach their boat in the shallows whilst one of the team scrambles out and races to a marker on the sand. We tied third in our second race when Yvonne’s mad dash up the beach was to close to call with our competitors.

Lunch was our Christmas picnic and as usual when women get together with shared lunch there was far too much food. Some of it was even good for us! Fun and games started after lunch. Soupu made a spirited attempt at the sack race and the kids all had a great time with the jandal toss and the special visit from Santa with his lolly bag.

Races after lunch were the Le Mans style. Toni (our newest recruit) had to stay on dry land and race to the boat before we could all push off and start paddling. The races were 250m with a turn half way. Soupu kept us all in line and no capsizes were reported!
Another great day of paddling for us and a great pre-Christmas get together for us all.

 

Hamilton Super 12 – 4th Dec 2010

The team gathered early on Saturday morning to the promise of fine weather for racing.  As the day progressed the clouds broke and the sun produced a sweltering hot day that sent most of us seeking some shade when we weren’t actually on the water.

Ready_to_go__2_.JPGOur first race of the day gave us a tremendous boost as we took first place.  It was however, the only win of the day for us and unfortunately a bit of a bad start in our second race, but these things happen!  We raced well throughout the day and didn’t have the misfortune that one of the teams had, as the hooter sounded at the race start – they capsized leaving all twelve paddlers, a sweep, a caller and their boat at the start line! This delayed the race programme slightly as they were toed back to shore accompanied by cheering from the onlookers.

We went into the breast cancer final with confidence and as ever it was a close call with Busting with Life taking first place by a fraction of a second and Pink Dragons and Boobops tying second place.  Immediately after the race the boats rafted up for a flower ceremony.

It was a great day enjoyed by all, now we need to go back to the drawing board to see how we can improve before the start of the 2011 regattas.

 

Dragons Abreast Regatta – Darling Harbour Sydney Trip

October 2010

posing_for_photo_1.JPGFriday morning, October 29th, the Pink Dragons are gathering at the airport check-in, excitedly anticipating their first international regatta as a full team. We’ve been planning and training for this for months, including some cold winter mornings.  The Air NZ crew make an announcement, wishing our team well this weekend.  On arrival at Sydney we make quite an impression as we troop through the airport in our uniform, pink paddle bags slung over our shoulders, people curious as to what we’re carrying in those bags!  We are questioned by many people and wished ‘good luck’ en route from the airport to our apartments. 

Friday afternoon and Saturday is free time to see some of the sights or catch up on shopping at some of the markets.  Some of us manage both and by the end of Saturday we have just about shopped ourselves out!  Saturday evening we have our pre-race meeting and get down to the serious business of why we are here.  Later, some of us watch the All Blacks v Wallabies match only to be totally demoralised when the Aussies beat us in the last few seconds of the game.  Oh well, I suppose we have to let them win sometimes!

ready_to_go_1.JPGSunday – this is it, it’s what we came for!    It is a perfect day for paddling on Darling Harbour, the venue and the atmosphere is amazing.  We wait quite a while for our first heat but finally it’s time for the warm up, line-up, team photo, line-up again and off we go to boat loading.  Now everyone is nervous. We don’t have our familiar sweep and coach, Sooupu to guide us through the race.  Brenda, our Aussie sweep, is lovely, but she speaks a different language! It is a tricky start, with calls that we don’t quite understand and suddenly it’s all go.  Once we’re on our way we know what to do and we come second! The next heat follows much the same pattern as the first – minus the photos.  We understand the calls better this time and well, would you believe it – we win! As our Aussie sweep says “I reckon it’s a tenner”!  This means that we make it to the finals. 

Lining up for the start of the final is a very tense time, but once that hooter sounds, we just put everything we possibly can into the race.  Final outcome: 1st DA Melbourne – 1.17.270, 2nd DA Geelong -1.18.010, 3rd Busting with Life -1.18.870 - Well done Busting!!, 4th Pink Dragons (by 0.3 sec) - 1.19.200 - Well done us!! 

looking_relaxed_1.JPGFollowing the Breast Cancer Survivors Final, eight boats of breast cancer survivors raft up together in the harbour to remember all those who have not shared our good fortune to survive, and the many who are undergoing treatment.  We throw handfuls of pink rose petals onto the water then let the boats drift apart.  Each paddler takes up their paddle and the boats follow one behind the other for a circuit of honour round the harbour. The only sound is the gentle tap-paddling rhythm of each crew. Then the cheering begins and follows us back to the pontoons. It is very emotional.

To round off the weekend we go out to Wagamama for our team dinner on Sunday evening followed by drinks and nibbles in one of the apartments.  After saying our goodbyes at Auckland airport on Monday we take home our memories.  Everyone agrees that they had an amazing time in Sydney.  We’ve had an experience that we will always remember and we hope, one day, we may be able to repeat it. 

A big ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who put in the hard work raising funds and organising the trip, it was a huge success. 

 

Flippin' Freezin' Super 12 - 2010

                                                                   Flippin_Freezin_Super12_1.JPGIt took all our will power to get up early on a cold weekend morning but once we got to Westhaven the sun was shining and the teams were ready for action and we all caught the mood. The first set of races was the long 3.5km under the Harbour bridge and back. It looked like hard work as we watched from the shore as the teams fought the current and their own tiredness. The fun started as the boats had to manouvre around the bridge supports. It was tight turn between the White Tigers and Lion but Soupu steered the team round on the inside with no collision or upset.

As there weren’t enough breast cancer teams members to have two teams some of our team joined Busting to create ‘pink busts’. We watched as they got through the waves and made a respectable time of 23 mins when the other boats were finishing at about 18 mins. Not bad for paddlers who hadn’t all paddled that far before.

Next came our team races. The boats were quickly loaded and we got ready on the start line. We were off pulling away as fast as we could manage, two reaches later and we had finished. It was all over so quickly and at 250m’s only half our normal race distance. two more races followed and we used them to get our technique right as we practiced our starts.  By the last race we felt good and back in action as a team after a long winter break. A good day was had by all and a useful re-bonding exercise was started. Roll on the start of the season! 

Thank you to our Sponsors

Another successful evening was organised by Team Captain Paula at Hammerheads Restaurant to thank our sponsors who have supported our team throughout 2009/2010 with their generosity. Without their support Pink Dragons would not have been able to have participated in events throughout the dragon boating season and purchased much needed equipment.

Sue_receiving_award_1.JPGPaula, (owner of Hammerheads) as a sponsor herself, put on yet another wonderful spread of food and drink for us as we gathered for what has become an annual event in our Pink Dragon calendar. Robin, our Team Leader, offered thanks to our sponsors for their continuing support and presented them with a team photo.  Paula announced that the Team Member of the Year trophy this year would go to Sue Jenness – well done Sue!

 

  

Pinkies in Canada

IPS_Kiwis_Canada_2010_1.jpgWhat a way to skip some of the gloom of a NZ winter! But that’s not the reason 4 members of the Pink Dragons team headed to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in June 2010. Leonie, Elaine, Sue and Robin attended the third World Participatory Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Festival together with 2 paddlers from the Waikato, one from Wellington, and one from the Wairarapa. These 8 proud Kiwis joined an international team called the International Pink Sisters, together with 7 Canadians and 6 Americans.

The IPS met each other over dinner one night, practised together on the water for an hour the next day, and raced together in 4 races over the next two days, winning 2 of those races and coming 3rd in another.

A special race was the Sandy Smith Global Race, in memory of a woman who was instrumental in helping establish teams all over the world. It is an honour to participate in this race, in crews comprised of members of different teams from around the world. Our own Leonie was chosen from the IPS team, and her boat won the race. Could that be Leonie’s paddling, or the efforts of the male breast cancer survivor in her boat?

After the race, 10 boats rafted together for the Flower Ceremony. During this moving event, a choir sang, and a formation of marchers bearing a long swathe of pink fabric created the international Pink Ribbon symbol. When the paddlers in the boats cast their flowers into the water, the remaining paddlers from 75 teams from around the world, who lined the lakeshore, followed suit, in a shower of pink carnations.

Kiwis_at_Gala__dinner.jpgThe hospitality of Peterborough was amazing. The festival participants marched behind their team banners along a parade route lined with the citizens of Peterborough. Even the policemen controlling the intersections liberally added pink to their uniforms. At the end of the parade participants were treated to a barbecue meal and the opening ceremonies, guest performers, and a fireworks display. The following night we attended a gala dinner for 2000 people, addressed by inspirational speakers including Dr Don McKenzie who started the whole breast cancer survivor dragon boating movement. A dance party followed the meal, for the hardy types who can paddle all day, party all night, and paddle all the next day. Some of us can’t and didn’t.  The Pinkies made many new friends and felt it was such a worthwhile experience.

Pink Ribbon Breakfast

Pink_Ribbon_Breakfast_1.JPGPink Dragon Team Captain Paula, very kindly hosted a pink ribbon breakfast/lunch for Pink Dragon team members and friends. The aim of the event was to raise funds for the Cancer Society by purchasing a ticket and merchandise supplied by them.  Paula came up with some interesting food and drink ideas and it was good to get together with team members again. Paula picked a brilliant day and we relaxed out on her deck in the sunshine catching up whilst eating our nibbles and sipping our pink bubbles! Thank you Paula it was great idea.

 

 

Nationals Lake Hood 2010

freezing_cold_Lake_Hood_1.JPGOn arrival at Ashburton the team all met up for a shared meal on Friday evening, a bit of a chat and a few drinks after travelling down throughout the day on different flights. We started out to Lake Hood early morning, and oh my goodness, it was FREEZING!! We spent the whole day trying to keep warm. Such a shame, as the location was perfect but it was so cold it was difficult to really appreciate it. We shivered our way through the races and kept a determined team spirit going as we paddled to the start line for the Breast Cancer final. Another close race, with Pink Dragons coming in fourth, but will only make us more determined to do better next year! After a very touching Flower Ceremony paddlers from other dragon boat teams honoured the breast cancer teams by performing a Huka for us. Saturday evening’s medal ceremony was followed by lots of partying! Sunday morning NZBCF sponsored a wonderful breakfast at The Lake House overlooking Lake Hood and was a fantastic finish to what had been a great weekend – pity about the weather!

 

Lake Pupuke Regionals 2010

Regionals_2010_1.jpgThe day started with the team arriving early to set up camp with our ‘injured’ gazebo (fatally wounded in a gust of wind at Wenderholm). The weather forecast was hopeful, although rain was expected later in the day. The team were raring to go and we raced with enthusiasm throughout the day. We were nearly rammed by another boat and narrowly avoided what could have been a disastrous and embarrassing drenching! The Breast Cancer final was as usual, a close nail biting finish, with Pink Dragons taking bronze this year. It’s been a tough start to the season for the team with quite a turnover of paddlers but we’re back on track now and ready to rock! It was a proud team that received their medals at the evening ceremony and a great incentive for our newbies.

Wenderholm Super 12 Regatta - 2010

shared_lunch.JPGWhat an amazing venue and what a fun packed day was had by all!  The racing started in the morning with boats paddling out from the shore and racing back in to the beach, with the caller jumping off the boat and sprinting to the finish part way up the beach.  In the afternoon the format changed with a paddler from each team sprinting down the beach and jumping into the boat as the team started to paddle away, racing toward the marker bouy, turning and racing back to the beach with the caller jumping off the boat and again sprinting to the finish.  It proved to be a lot of fun.  There was a long break mid-day with each team bringing a shared lunch, followed by fun and games - sack races, jandal throwing and tug-o-war - pity the rope snapped twice!!  By the end of the day everyone was exhausted but they all had a great day's racing.

Hamilton Super 12 Regatta - 2009

A Rookie's take on their first regatta

Warming_up_with_Franco_1.JPGWell I have done it! My first Dragon Boat Regatta since joining the Pink Dragons a month ago. The regatta was held at Hamilton Lake with our first race scheduled for 9.15 in the open competition. We had a group warm-up and then lined up in pairs in the position that we were to be seated on the boat. It was quite funny as it took us time to realise that left was actually right.  As we were two people short we were very pleased when some paddlers from other teams volunteered to race with us throughout the day.

I have to say that I started feeling very nervous before getting into the boat as from the shoreline it looked like a long course. As it was my first time I had no idea what to expect as up until the regatta I had just been concentrating on perfecting the correct paddling technique, then all of a sudden here I was with a team at the start line and then we were racing! It actually felt like we were hardly moving and then the race was over. The greatest shock of all shocks was that we came second. I was shaking as I left the boat but so very exhilarated and all I could think about was how I could improve in the next race.

Race two, three and four came and went so quickly and then race 5 was announced asking all spectators to support all 5 breast cancer survivor teams and everyone came to the shore line.  It was a great race and we came third. As we all came back to the shore line the boats came together for a minutes silence for those that could not join us. The most amazing thing of all is the respect and admiration that all the fellow competitors show towards the breast cancer survivors. A great day but oh my goodness I had better work on my fitness level.

Rookie - Dianne Hansen

 

Mid Winter Super 12 Fun Regatta 

super__12_fun_regatta.jpgOn Saturday 5th September some of the Pink Dragons team turned out, along with a few friends, for a fun regatta held at West Haven. The weather was definitely on our side with a cloudless blue sky creating a back drop for our wonderful city scape. It was a little chilly to say the least early in the day but we soon got warmed up as we started the racing. 

The day was all about having fun and we certainly did that! With the help of a few novice friends, two husbands, a son-in-law and a couple of paddlers seconded from other teams we managed to do ourselves proud, giving the other teams a run for their money.

Rosie_our_youngest_supporter.jpg

After the racing we all gathered at Swashbucklers restaurant for a well earned drink and fish and chip platters. Everyone had a great day and as you can see our youngest supporter, Rosie, had a great day too!

 

 

2008 - 2009 Season

 

Dragon Boat Talk in Whangerei 

Whangarei_Dragon_Boat_Presentation.jpgOn Monday, June 22, Leonie and Robin travelled to Whangarei to speak about Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boating. Last year, an approach was made to the NZBCDBC seeking guidance on the formation of a BCS team in Northland. Robin collaborated with Sue Baker and Kathy Paterson of the Breast Cancer Support Northland Trust to arrange a meeting of interested people to attend a talk given by Robin and Leonie.

After liaising with Robin, the local Whangarei Leader ran an article ahead of the meeting, which gave some publicity for the event. 15 women attended, and the feedback afterwards was very positive. A woman volunteered to coach the team, and other ideas flowed about sponsorship, and boat storage. The NZDBA has offered the use of one of the old boats and a set of paddles.

With such keenness and support, the formation of a Northland team is looking very promising.

Coach's Corner

Soopu reduced.jpgAt the end of 2008 Dragon boat season, Yvonne, team catain, approached me and wanted to know if I was interested to coach "The Pink Dragons". I had to seriously think about it, because here they are, a team of Breast Cancer Survivors, who have already been through a lot. The question I wanted to know was, “how far can I push them”?

After our first training, it was pretty clear from the girls and the message was loud and clear, “Don't make our trainings easy”, and I didn't.

2009 was a learning curve for me as I got to know the team, and the team got used to my training sessions. I promised them at the beginning of the season, they would get medals; what colour would be up to them. My other goal was to get to know everyone's name by the end of the season!

Thanks to Graeme’s coaching over the years, I didn't have to do much with the girls, just a bit of tweaking here and there, and the use of Fred the sea anchor.

We ended this season on a high with two Silver Medals, and I am so proud of what the girls have achieved in our first year together, and the girls are all looking fit and fantastic and we are all looking forward to 2010, as we have unfinished business to take care of.

Bring it on!!!!

End of Season Party

Elain__a_happy_waitress_reduced.jpgThe crowd of black and pink uniforms and excited chatter was further enlivened by pink ribbons and the clink of silver medals as the Pink Dragons gathered for the last time this season. Our generous sponsor, Hammerheads Restaurant & Bar, hosted by team member Paula Sheahan, provided the nibbles and drinks.

We were honoured to welcome most of our other sponsors – Alan Clarke from Abano, Andy and Sue Stuart from Pink Bins, Tony Jeanes from Koru Media, Sue Waugh who illustrated our two successful fundraising books, Heather Shotter from the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, and Rose Love from our website designer Zeald.Com.

Team support comes in many ways, one of which was to provide Rescue Boat services when the official boat was unavailable. Without these willing partners of team members, we would not have been allowed out on the water for training, so we expressed our appreciation for their help.

Our Coach, Sooupu, was presented with a Coach of The Year certificate, and a gift voucher from Paula to return to Hammerheads with his wife and daughter for a relaxing meal together..

Team captain, Yvonne’s, last duty for the season was to award the Team Member of the Year trophy, to Sally Miller and Sue Heyes.

Ascot Radiology Pink Dragons have had a wonderful six months together and are looking forward to the camaraderie, joy, and hard work of another season after the break.

Nationals at Rotorua

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Saturday 28th March marked the end of the seasons paddling with the Nationals being held at the Blue Lake Rotorua and what a stunning venue it was! The team assembled in very good spirits on Friday evening with great enthusiasm for the next days racing.

Saturday morning meant an early breakfast for the team before driving to the venue. With a chilly start to the day the weather was pretty kind to us.

Great racing for our team throughout the day meant we had 2nd choice of lanes for the Breast Cancer Final. It was an awesome race but we couldn’t quite pull off first place with Busting with Life pipping us at the post once again for gold, Pink Dragons taking silver and Abreast of Life taking the bronze.

Once the race was over the breast cancer teams rafted up their boats for the flower ceremony and it was one of the most moving we’ve taken part in. The boats gently drifted towards the shore where many of the corporate teams  were lined up alongside supporters. As the boats came to a halt the boys from the crew loading volunteers surprised us with a moving tribute to the breast cancer paddlers with their haka.

The prize giving and After Party was a noisy and happy one with a great deal of celebrating by all. Sunday morning NZBCDBC organised a wonderful breakfast for all the breast cancer teams and a chance to mingle with other paddlers before the end of another great season!

We'll be back next season with only one thing on our minds GOLD!!!

Lake Pupuke

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Saturday14th March was the North Shore City Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Pupuke, Takapuna.  The team gathered together to a fine but rather chilly start to the day and as ever, full of enthusiasm for the days racing ahead.  Rain dampened the day for a while but it didn't dampen our spirits! 

The 580 metre course was taken in our stride and the Breast Cancer Final produced one of our closest finishes yet with Busting with Life and a nail biting wait for the final results.  Only a fraction of a second meant Busting took the gold, Pink Dragons the silver and Boobops taking the bronze. 

ROTORUA HERE WE COME!!!!

Tauranga Super 12 Regatta

Saturday 14th February

The team started the weekend off by gathering together on Friday for a great social evening. Lots of fun and a few drinks over a shared dinner kick-started the weekend on a good note. 

Shared_Dinner_1_1.jpgIt was an early start to Saturday in readiness for the races ahead. There was some drizzly rain to start with but thankfully the sky cleared and gave us a brilliant day for racing (unlike last year!). 

  

Our team consisted of 5 rookies, 8 experienced paddlers and 2 team members with broken wrists! Racing went well throughout the day giving us third place in the breast cancer final. The day came to a close with prize giving followed by a much needed rest before heading off for a team meal at a local restaurant. We’re all looking forward now to the next regatta in Auckland!


Book Sales

milford_book_sales_1.JPGNovember 2008 saw the launch of our book 'Percy the Pink Dragon Boat' Sales have gone incredibly well so far and the feed back from people has been very positive.

To kick start the sales and to take advantage of Christmas we spent four days at Milford Shopping Centre with team members manning a stall.  It was great talking to people about Pink Dragons and what the team is all about.  We're definitely on track to make much needed funds for both the team and Kenzie's Gift through the sale of the books.

Christmas BBQ

team_bbq_1.JPGTo celebrate the end of 2008 some of the team and their partners got together for a BBQ hosted by one of our rookies. The location was fantastic as was the weather. Everybody helped out providing the food and drink making for a wonderful spread. 

After lunch some of us relaxed while others burnt off a few calories exploring the grounds and taking in some of the bush walks surrounding the house. It was a great opportunity to get together off the water and have fun and to get to know some of the Rookies a little better. Thanks to Lisa for the opportunity it couldn’t have been a better end to 2008 training!

Hamilton Super 12 Regatta - 2008

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 November 29th saw the first regatta for the season the Hamilton super 12. Hamilton provided it’s best possible weather for the day and what a day we had! Most of our Rookies came along to sample first hand what it’s like to paddle under race conditions. The feed back from them was that it was ‘awesome’.   We raced throughout the day along side both corporate and breast cancer teams and as usual there was great support shown for all the breast cancer teams.

A minutes silence was held before the Breast cancer final in remembrance of all those who had lost their lives to the disease. In the final Boobops took first place closely followed by Busting with Life with Pink Dragons taking third . Altogether it was a very successful day and we look forward to the 2009 regattas.
 

2007/2008 Season wrap-up

 

From Tracey Richardson - Rookie Paddler

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The 2007/2008 dragon boating season was one of improvement and friendship for the Pink Dragons. I was one of five rookies to join the team at the beginning of the season and was blown away by the warmth and support from the existing team members.

 

We started the season out with the Tiger Beer Regatta in Auckland in February with five of us getting a taste for the competitive element of the sport. We then braved the wind and rain at the Tauranga Super 12 competition in March and made a fun-weekend of it with team-building activities and the joys of road trips and shared accommodation.

We were thrilled with our performance at the Nationals in Auckland in March and felt the improvement we made throughout the season was due to hard work and good leadership.

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Tric , Graeme, Yvonne (our on- the-land trainer), Lynn (Paddler of the Year) and Robin (Team Leader)

We bid farewell to our coach Graeme Rountree and team original Tric Nelson who are off to the Mainland and awarded Lynn Simons with our ‘Paddler of the Year’ award.

 

Off the water, we took part in the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and lots of fundraising walks/runs which improved our personal fitness and team camaraderie. Motivating, fun and supportive!

 

To all the breast cancer survivors reading this article who may be thinking about the possibility of joining a breast cancer dragon boating team – my response would be GO FOR IT!!

There are teams all around the country, with new ones being formed every year. It’s fun, good for you and you’ll meet some great personalities!! On the water trainings at Westhaven on a summer’s morning are magic. It’s open to all ages, body shapes and sizes and fitness levels, it’s inclusive and all about celebrating life, we deserve it!

So what’s in store for the Pink Dragons in 2008/2009? We are excited to be welcoming a new coach; our Team Captain Yvonne Dunn has fitness schedules typed up and ready to go. Currently we’re hibernating but building up for the upcoming season…. anything is possible!!

If you’d like to become a member of the Pink Dragon’s Dragon Boating Team in Auckland please contact Robyn Gamble Ph 630 6423

Tauranga Super 12 Regatta - 2008

It was fabulous fun and we rookies loved it. Thanks to Robin for organizing it and thanks to Janet for feeding us and thanks to Tric and Elaine for leading us . The weather was awful, but we were all keen as mustard to get out there.

My room mate was so enthusiastic about the regatta that she got up at 3.45am and was trotting off to the shower thinking it was 6am.

We raced hard, enjoyed our mixing and mingling of positions in the boat (care of Graeme) and were THRILLED to get second in the Breast Cancer final.

Yes, there were some celebratory drinks consumed and Coyote’s bar was rocking for the prize giving on Saturday afternoon. Some of us (no names) hadn’t eaten much, so the alcohol content of each drink was somewhat increased…. We were given towels instead of silver medals… interesting….. One party animal team mate crashed and burned at 7.30pm and was walked back to the hostel before she’d even eaten.

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One picture says it all

Meanwhile back at the restaurant, the team was posing for a photo and one team mate decided she wanted her good side to be photographed. She climbed over the pedestal table and it flipped, yes, broken glass, red wine up the walls, salt and pepper everywhere… yee haa!!! Another team mate got a phone call on her mobile and was walking outside to take the call when she decided to be John Travolta and do the disco splits on the floor of the restaurant. The rest of the night was uneventful with a lovely meal consumed and cups of tea drank back at the hostel.

We were rudely awoken at 6.50am the next morning by the wailing fire alarm and all got to check out each others night attire (and the other backpackers) as we stood outside for 15 minutes while the firemen ‘cleared’ the building…..

Did the above involve any of the rookies…..? maybe…… was there mention of a ‘rookie contract and approval process’ being written up…. perhaps……. Did I steal Sue team shirt…. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

 

2006/2007 season

 

By Robin Gamble – our Team Leader

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Up and racing against Breast Cancer Teams - Tiger Beer Regatta Auckland

We are the second breast cancer dragon boating team in Auckland, and the sixth team in New Zealand. We began as a mixed team in 2005 with the help of a number of non-breast cancer survivor paddlers, but became 100% breast cancer survivors for the 2006-07 season.

 

We participated in a fun festival at Takapuna Beach, and competed in the Tauranga Super 12’s, but it was at the Auckland Festival and the Nationals in Christchurch where we rewarded our coach and ourselves by achieving our best times yet.

We also found travelling together as a team a great bonding experience. We had so much fun, and ended the paddling season on a high note.

 

We suffered some withdrawal pangs once our regular contact with each other was put on hold, but we heeded coach Graeme's advice that, for the success of the team, we really needed to take a break over winter.

 

Our mission is to show our fellow breast cancer survivors that life is for living! After being swept along in the process of diagnosis, surgery, treatment, medication and supervision, we could feel rather helpless. Participation in this physically demanding sport has been empowering. We have benefitted from learning new skills, improving our fitness, feeling positive, and being part of a wonderful support group working together to achieve a goal.

  

Coaches Corner

This season I have seen a group of paddlers grow into a team of paddlers. A team that now knows how to paddle as one unit to the best of their ability.

The Tauranga Super 12 regatta was a good warm up and it is fair to say that it showed off a number of our weaknesses. It was however a good team bonding exercise and invaluable to get to where we are now.

 

At the Auckland regatta our paddling was much improved at times although we were still looking for consistency. Then there was the final and something clicked in the team and we paddled a near perfect race. We also picked up our first ever placing in a regatta with a well-deserved 3rd betting Treasure Chests by a massive 0.62 seconds.

 

The following weekend it was down to the nationals in Christchurch.

My main concern in the lead up to this regatta was again consistency.

Race 1,

I asked for a good steady paddle and got it along with a reasonable time.

Race 2, 3, 4 & 5,

Same as above however by race 3 I was now aware that the group of paddlers that made up the team were now a team of paddlers and that nothing was going to stand in their way of pushing hard and achieving the best they could.

 

There was however nothing else we could have given or done on the day but the team deserve to hold their heads high, stand tall and be very proud of what we have accomplished this year.

 

Yes a 4th at the nationals can be a hard pill to swallow however there was nothing else we could have done to improve on this on the day. Graeme Roundtree

  

By an anonymous Rookie

The paddling idea was introduced soon after the completion of my treatment and it required some consideration. Surely the healthiest thing to do at this point in my life was to move on and not link up with a ‘breast cancer’ group. However the lure of getting into some regular activity again, saw me turn up at Okahu Bay one Sunday afternoon. I was introduced to Jane, Beth and Maggie – or was that Mary, Sue and Lola and they all had their ‘pink caps’ - hmmmm! This (youngish) guy who introduced himself as the coach was so enthusiastic and I couldn’t for the life of me fathom why he would want to work with a matured group of woman. But he did seem to make some sense when talking about ‘core strength’ (couldn’t wait to see his 6-pack once he shed his winter layers of clothes!!). So there it started and I diligently did my exercises for 2 days!

 

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First time paddling for a couple of Rookies

First paddle! Nervously turned up on time, more new faces and we were lined up and randomly placed in the boat. Slight sense of excitement whilst observing the Piha boat crew along side us. Right from the word go we had the ‘timing and technique’ message explained, said again, reiterated and repeated – for mature people, it struck me that we were very slow learners. The good thing is that I did really enjoy the first experience and knew I would be back for more – even after shivering away after practice while the coach regurgitated ‘that’ message. And no, I didn’t remember the name of the woman I was sitting next to. (That was me Sue)

 

First Regatta! Takapuna loomed before I even felt we were out of nappies. Three words to describe that day. Wet, intimidating, frustrating. But we PD’s stuck together and there was a sense of some team bonding happening AND I got a pink cap. So nice to get back to training on the Tuesday night afterwards with all the familiar faces.

 

First Real Regatta! Auckland. Now this was really nervous energy stuff. The first race was awesome and so good to get out of the way. According to Graham we were OK. I don’t think OK stacks up in any of our books and we really wanted to prove to ourselves (and the other breast cancer teams) that we are a force to be reckoned with. The first breast cancer race came and went and the entrenched timing and technique was evidently not on our boat for that one - photos prove we were not within kuwee of the other three teams. Gutted! (I was quietly confident that we would ‘kick ass’!)

 

To add insult to injury, I experienced my first flower ceremony. WOW! I don’t think ‘How Great Thou Art’ was the best choice of words to paddle down the viaduct with but, AJ, how great thou art for standing up and speaking so well on our behalf. It was so amazing to be a part of this and having my family there to share the occasion was incredibly special. The final was very uplifting (always welcome when you’re talking breasts, especially ours) and was proof that we were past the crawling and able to stand on our own feet and ‘mix it’ with the other bc teams. A triumph for Pink Dragons.

 

First Nationals! Christchurch. Visualise this. Sitting in a boat on a lake which is as still as a mill-pond, absolute blue skies above and dragon flies flitting around beside you. Despite the criteria to be eligible to sit in that boat with 19 other amazing women and a coach who can be a bit gruff on the out-side but has a pretty big heart (and a 6-pack somewhere), you can’t help but think ‘Life is Good’. Sunday was a great day, really good for us as a team and I look forward to more days of that nature – but with some more metal and / wood to show for our efforts now that we are ready to run with it. I believe I now know everyone’s name and I wear my pink cap with pride. everyone, you’re t’rific.

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Racing in Christchurch at the Nationals

 

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Team gathering in Christchurch prior to the Nationals

 

 

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER”

 

Robin’s Dragon Boating in Canada

 

In July of this year I visited Victoria, BC Canada, to spend time with my daughter, her fiance, and my extended family. When making my plans I noticed the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival coincided with my dates, so happily marked the event in my diary, intending to enjoy a great couple of days of entertainment.

 

As an afterthought, I contacted the local breast cancer survivor team, The Island Breaststrokers, to ask if I might meet some of them, and watch their training from the shore, promising to cheer them on on the day. My contact turned out to be the most charming, friendly and hospitable woman who became my “buddy”, Clare. “Don’t just stand and watch”, said Clare. “We often have a spare seat on the boat. Come paddle with us”.

 

Well, you know, one thing leads to another…

 

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Robin second paddler from right enjoying the Gorge Festival on board with the Island Breaststrokers

 

I attended two training sessions with the Island Breaststrokers, and managed to keep up with their powerful paddlers, which was a great relief, as I had been in hibernation from dragon boating in New Zealand for several months, since our own season finished at the end of March. After the second training session, I was asked “So what are you doing on Saturday?” Unknown to me, an annual One Day festival is held at The Gorge (a waterway which forms part of Victoria Harbour), one week before the 2 day festival I planned to attend, and my “New Best Friends” were a paddler short. The diary was consulted, a few plans were changed, and I presented myself for duty at the appointed hour. “No pressure”, but I learned The Island Breaststrokers were the world champions in the Breast Cancer Division at Singapore in 2006! We easily beat the other 5 breast cancer teams to win MY FIRST GOLD MEDAL. With that race under our belts, we then competed in the Women’s Open Division and picked up a bronze medal. I was delivered home, damp, but on a high, having assisted the IBS team to their fastest time, ever, in a Breast Cancer Survivors Grand Final. The home-coming Olympic athletes at Auckland airport weren’t the only people with a bunch of medals clanking around their necks!

 

The following weekend, the IBS expected to muster a full crew, but had suggested I ask the festival organisers to find me another team to paddle with. Thus, chameleon-like, I dressed in the colours of The Pink Piston Paddlers from Salmon Arm, BC, and acquired another set of New Best Friends. Again, I was impressed by their friendliness and their genuine interest in a visitor from New Zealand. I picture a bridge between NZ and Canada, across which Kiwis and Canucks cross easily into each other’s countries, finding kindred spirits in both places. It seems every Canadian I meet has either been to NZ, has had a life-long dream to visit, or knows someone living in NZ. I was the happy recipient of souvenir t shirts, team pins, photos of my new teams, and a beautiful medal given to every breast cancer paddler, sponsored by the BC Cancer Foundation of Vancouver Island.

 

The summer weather was brilliantly fine, the atmosphere of the Festival venue was electric, with the crowds of competitors and spectators milling amongst the tents of vendors and the stages of the entertainers. We did our Warm Ups to music, and were all marshalled for our races in a most methodical way.

 

The Pink Piston Paddlers made up for their lack of experience (being a team of only 3 seasons) by being colourful, not only in their peacock blue and orange dragon emblazoned shirts, but by their humour and penchant for bursting into song or chant at the drop of a hat. Quite the entertainers. We didn’t win any medals, but we enjoyed our races, giving our best efforts to finish a creditable fourth in the Breast Cancer Grand Final.

 

The night before the Victoria Festival, all the breast cancer teams were hosted to a lovely meal organised by the Island Breaststrokers. There were raffles, skits and dancing, along with a “trade table”. Raising funds is a universal goal for all teams, and I made a few mental notes of ideas I could bring home to the Pink Dragons.

 

Oh, and I also had a marvellous visit with my family!

 

http://www.islandbreaststrokers.com/

 

http://www.pinkpistonpaddlers.ca/

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta - Jan 2017

 
Under a perfect clear blue sky, a record number of teams took part in the annual Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta. Auckland’s Anniversary Day celebrates the founding of the province and to commemorate this, a wide range of vessels take to the water in one of the world’s largest one-day regattas. Dragon boat racing is just one of the spectacles on offer for participants and spectators alike. 

So with a definite party vibe happening, our team consisting of ‘old hands’ and ‘newbies’ took to the water to race in three ‘fast and furious’ sprint heats and a final. I won’t lie, racing in the final for this ‘newbie’, although exciting, was just a little bit nerve wracking. A constant thought running through my head was ‘what if I stuffed up and, most importantly, couldn’t keep in time with my team-mates’. However, once the race was underway, it was just a case of digging in and getting on with the job at hand. We came third out of the four teams in our final - and for this ‘newbie’ racing in her first regatta, that felt good! 

Aside from the occasional halt to proceedings to allow for other boats to sail in and out of the Viaduct, overall the day went without a hitch. With plenty of action happening on the water and good crowds watching, we all had a fun day.

So, a big thank you to the Auckland Dragon Boat Association for making this day happen.

Pink Dragons Auckland Anniversary Regatta 2017-852


Kai Iwi Lakes - Feb 2015

(By Liz Butcher)

The Kai Iwi Lakes Dragon Camp continues to be a popular and welcome event on the dragon boat calendar. This year five Pinkies went north to set up camp on the Friday night, get up early the next day for the dawn paddle - 4k round trip across the lake - then back for a camp breakfast before facing the day's challenges.

A lot of planning went into the training sessions to be held. All levels of experience were catered for and participants could choose where to be to make the most of the opportunity to learn from other coaches and paddlers alike.

The weather was great and some of us took it more easy than others. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and supportive. Helen, as a first timer, had a great time attending every workshop she could.

Concurrent with the classes were time trials - this is where two people go out on a 20 seater boat, one paddles and and the other helps balance the boat. A sweep is in place with a paddle to assist steering but not adding to the progress. The distance covered is 200m. The time taken is measured and a complicated equation involving your vital statistics (weight and age) determines the result. This provides a benchmark to where a paddler is at and what they may need to improve upon. There is also a particular technique for effective paddling in a time trial. As with all things some are better than others which was proved very conclusively with Robin taking the honours over the rest of us.

After the lessons comes play time where teams are made up for races. It is great fun to participate or watch. Lot's of serious energy is burned as everyone paddles their heart out. Dragon boating is always the winner on the day!

After dinner we all gather again for the entertainment. Teams are asked to perform a skit or song or tell a story. These are so very excellent and worth the trip. There is a lot of talent in the dragon boat crowd - both on and off the water. It is a pleasure to share that special time together. Then all too soon the party is over and the sun comes up and we all head back to our homes.

 

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Jan 2015

(Liz Butcher)

This regatta continues to grow with a record number of teams taking part. The course was the same as past years but the on-land set up provided a closer view for all of us with the gazebos placed near the action at the viaduct as well as the inclusion of a public stand.

The day was perfect for races and spectators alike with an overcast morning turning into a hot day. Spectators gathered throughout the day, eager to watch the racing!

As with previous years we were racing in the 10’s boats kitted out with dragon head and tails, drums and callers. This year our full team turned out which meant we entered two boats - Pinkies Rock and Pinkies Roll. Having two teams soon turned us to rivals on the water as we fought our way through the heats. In the finals we fiercely battled to the finish with the added dimension of the battle of the sweeps (Lion's Sooupu and Ricky). The close result augurs well for a successful season.

 

Tauranga Super 12s Regatta – 29 November 2014

(by Chris Johnson)

P1040564 (640x440)-312   (photo: Trish; Helen; Cat)

This year we were lucky to have our three new paddlers taking part, for all of them it was their first participation in a breast cancer final and a Flower Ceremony.  Here are their thoughts on their experiences.

CAT: It was so exciting to be in a race with only women...no male brute strength to compete against!  Also very poignant that all of us in the race had faced the cancer battle -but survived!!!  We came in a respectable second - yay! - but the elation of the race was short lived and we were soon very somber for the rose ceremony. The ceremony was quite sad, especially as the song that was played seemed very dark and dreary, but the sentiment was not lost as we waved our roses in the air, shed a few tears and felt thankful that we were thereto compete.  I love being part of this team and hope I can still be competing in 10 years, teaching new paddlers who are in the same position that I am currently in - a newby!!
HELEN: The time was right for me to get back into a competitive sport after years just managing others. The knees don't work as well and so when I met Lyn and Sue at the Boatshow a new opportunity presented itself in Dragon boating. The first few "newby" trainings had me hooked and soon I was regularly turning up to learn correct paddling techniques (still working on that one!! Bear with me Sooupu) and trying to get paddling fit (I think this is coming).

I remember wondering after the first two trainings how I would ever be able to paddle long enough to last one race let alone a whole regatta.  Everyone was very encouraging and with three newbies starting out together new bonds were formed.  I really felt I had joined a new sisterhood and we shared a common bond that made us a wee bit special. Having unfortunately missed the Hamilton regatta due to my rugby 7's involvement I was very keen to participate in the Tauranga Super 12's.  Chris and Anete took me under their wing and off we went.  I was quietly nervous, never having competed in anything like that before.  The first race my butterflies were humming and all technique went out the window.  I'm pretty sure I forgot to breathe from start to finish, it was a frenetic pace and I wondered how I could do that for 3 more races?  After a break and some inner composure we were out again and this time I remembered to breathe, keep my head up and felt much more part of the team. I survived all races intact with encouragement and nurture from my new Sisters.

It was a fun experience, paddling in all the weather Tauranga could throw at us, wind, rain, hot sun - but that’s what its all about. The rose ceremony was truly touching and very humbling. It is a beautiful interlude reconnecting us to those paddling angels and bringing the sisterhood closer with the common bond we share. We are Special!

TRISH: Churning tummy, hard to take on board that I'm paddling my 1st BC race after 3 practices!   Part of a very special team - a shared bond.  So nervous at the start, elated at the finish, I did it!The Rose Ceremony was very emotional, mixed feelings, tears of remembrance and happiness! Thoughts of absent friends and the many people who saw me through the tough times.  A beautiful way to begin new friendships :)


 

Hamilton14-758

Hamilton Super 12 – November 2014

(by Liz Butcher)

The first regatta of the new season promised rain and it delivered, but not straight away. Hamilton was an opportunity to try out our new paddling style. It was good experience to apply our learning in a race environment. Despite the impact on the days event with both wind and heavy rain, it was a great day out and enjoyed by all.

 





 

Robin with AwardLife Member Robin !

The Pink Dragons came to an end of era recently when long standing Team Manager, Robin Gamble, decided to step down from the role and relax for the next few years as “just a paddler”.
 
Robin joined the Pink dragons at its inception in 2005 and has given huge amounts of her time and energy to both the team and the sport of Dragon Boating in Auckland ever since. Not only has Robin been one of the most consistent team members but she has also served her time with positions on the committee for Auckland Dragon boat and, if anything needed to be done for the team or the association, Robin is always there to lend a hand.
 
The Pink Dragons have acknowledged Robin’s contribution to the team by awarding her Life Membership of Pink Dragons and look forward to paddling with her for many years to come.

 



Gulf Harbour Dragon Fest Super 10’s 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

Gulf HarbourFor the second year running Pink Dragons joined with other teams to take part in a regatta at the wonderful venue of Hobbs Wharf, Gulf Harbour.  This year it had a dragon theme, an ideal opportunity for us as Pink Dragons to get inventive as dressing up was the order of the day!  Surprise, surprise Pink Dragons became ‘pink dragons’ with their pink onesies transformed into dragons with a little addition.

The team gathered together, fingers crossed for the sun gods to shine throughout the day, and prepared for the racing.  Teams were mixed and the emphasis was on having fun.  The team slipped away before our first race and transformed into ‘pink dragons’.  It was quite a surprise to the other teams as we loaded our boat and set off for our first race! 

There were several heats of short sprints, a final and a mixed turns race concluded the days racing.  Although Pinkies were unsuccessful in their racing, they gave it their best.  However in the dress-up department they were a winning team and we duly collected a prize for best dressed team.

All in all it was a successful day, it didn’t rain too much, the racing was great and everyone had fun what more could a team want?

 

ADBA Awards 2014

photo(copy)At the recent Auckland Dragon Boat Association’s End of Season Award Night, Pink Dragons received an award for “2014 Most Improved Team “.  Congratulations to all members of the team for all the effort  put in over the season . The question is, can we improve even more over the next season? 

 

 



Pink Ribbon Breakfast


Pink Ribbon Breakfast(copy)More than 20 friends, family and Pink Dragons gathered on a Sunday afternoon to attend and help support  the Pink Ribbon Breakfast appeal.  In this case it was more of an afternoon tea with an appetizing spread of yummy sweet and savoury food being provided.

A host of raffle prizes were on offer and tickets sales helped to boost the final total.  Also on offer for a small donation was a choice of beauty procedures and the offer was taken up by a number of ladies.

There was a great choice of drinks offered also from pink bubbles to flat whites so something for everyone.  A good time was had by all and just as important we raised a huge total of $550 for NZBCF.  Well done all you lovely ladies!

 

To The Glory of Dragonboating

(By Andrea Partington)

andrea1(copy)Five years ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer after finding a lump in my left breast.
As I progressed through my ordeal I was given booklets, leaflets and a whole raft of information to help me deal with my diagnosis before, during and after treatment. Amongst this myriad of information was a flyer for 'The Pink Dragons' a female Breast Cancer Dragon Boating team that caught my eye.  I remember ringing one of the team members and being told that once I had finished my treatment and was declared medically fit to paddle I should get back in touch with her.

However as the year wore on and I got busy with living life again the idea faded from memory until one day I received a phone call asking if I was still keen and if so there was an upcoming 'Give it a go' day down at the Westhaven Marina which I was invited to attend.  Now I consider myself to be reasonably fit (even for my advanced age) having been a long distance runner for about the last twenty odd years but that first year of paddling coupled with trying to buy a house at the same time was incredibly stressful and I nearly gave it away.

Sitting in a boat full of 20 strong minded female Breast Cancer Survivors all of whom have different opinions and are not afraid to tell you how paddling is meant to be done is quite daunting and in the beginning, quite confusing. Not only did I have to contend with being told off constantly, I also discovered to my horror that I was ‘Rhythmically challenged’ and as a result I often committed the cardinal sin of hitting other people’s paddles, not to mention the side of the boat and disrupting the timing of the team! However I persevered, learnt to accept the feedback gracefully and gradually I have improved.

Dragon boating both in the Cancer and non-Cancer divisions is fiercely competitive and regattas are a regular occurrence on the sporting calendar. As a team we have travelled to Australia to compete in the Breast Cancer division. We also compete in this division within New Zealand the highlight of which being the National Championships alternating each year between North and South Island venues. These trips (once the business of hard out paddling is completed) have been fun with lots of laughter. Medals have been won including last year, the coveted gold at the Nationals in Rotorua for the 200m.
 
Now after four seasons I have become a ‘Polar Bear’ (winter paddler, the name describes it aptly). This is not to everyone’s liking as it consists of training in all kind of weather as part of a mixed team made up of other likeminded fools from the many teams within the Auckland Dragon Boat Association. Recently one of these afore mentioned fools (not me honest!) thought that it would be a good idea to paddle the 22 kilometres from Westhaven marina to the historic Riverhead tavern. This is no mean feat when you consider a typical race is held over distances of between 200 and 500 metres and that ‘endurance races’ are no more than 2 kilometres in length! Our training for this has seen us going around (and around) a circuit commencing at Westhaven, down to the Viaduct, then out under the harbour bridge to Watchman’s island and back again. If the sea is choppy not only is it good resistance training but there is also at no extra cost the thought that we could capsize at any moment which serves to keep everyone working as a team to avoid this from happening!

After several false starts due to bad weather we finally got the go ahead for Sunday 20th October. Loaded into two of the smaller class of Dragon boats (10 seater) we departed in glorious conditions at 07:00 heading out into the wide expanse of a becalmed Waitemata harbour. Our route taking us out under the bridge, across to Kauri point, past the ferry terminal at Hobsonville point and then on towards Herald island. From here we entered the Rangitopuni creek, which would take us to our final destination of Riverhead.
Rounding the final bend, our goal, the Riverhead tavern came into view and we doubled our efforts for one final push. As we approached the jetty a cry went up from one of the two safety boats that were accompanying us “Keep going, don’t stop we’ve only done 19.6 kilometres!” It turns out a final check of the GPS had revealed that initial calculations of the distance to be covered were out by 2.4 kilometres and seeing how we had set out on a journey that we believed was 22 kilometres then by golly 22 kilometres it was going to be! (Besides we already had the Tee shirts with 22 kilometres printed on them!) Paddling back down stream for 1.2 kilometres we then turned and headed once more for the finish line.

We had done it! It had only taken us about 2 hours and 36 minutes. All that hard work and effort had paid off. With very sore bottoms we all headed to our reserved tables and over brunch it was decided that this was going to be an annual event and there was even some talk of doing it as a 44 kilometre return trip next time!

Overall, a good time, was had by all and a new New Zealand record was set for this class of Dragon boat.

Lake Hood -Nationals 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

Nationals 2014(copy)A few days out from Nationals the big question was “What would the weather be like”.  Having faced the brunt of a very cold and wet experience before at Lake Hood, we studied the weather forecasts with hopeful expectations for a good day. 

On Friday the majority of the team flew to Christchurch together arriving at our motel late afternoon.  After settling in we all took off for an evening meal  and then an early night followed by an early start and a big day ahead! Unfortunately day break didn’t fill us with much optimism for the warm sun-filled day we had hoped for, as the grey skies obscured the morning sun making for a bit of a chilly start to the racing.  However, the conditions were very calm with little or no wind and the sun did manage to break through mid afternoon and was gratefully received.

Racing soon got underway with the 200m races and we completed two heats before our BC final took place.  We put heart and soul into our final and were placed 3rd behind Cansurvive and Boobops.  Some of the team were beginning to feel the cold by this time and hot water bottles, blankets, hats, gloves and anything else that might warm the body became favoured attire back in the tent.

Two more heats were completed for the 500m and then the all-important BC final closely followed by the flower ceremony.  Once again the whole team put in 100% plus, but sadly we were unable to gain a better place against Cansurvive (1st)  and Boobop (2nd), placing us 3rd again  .  All teams rafted up following the race and as we joined together,  friends, family and other teams gathered on the shore.  All four boats locked together as one, focussing our thoughts on our paddling angels.  A haka was performed as the boats drifted slowly towards the shore and a guard of honour formed as the teams alighted from the boats and were high-fived through.

Now it was time to focus on the next race, the 2K, a favourite with the Pinkies.  We were the first boat to set off.  With the excellent skills of our sweep, Annmarie and the enthusiasm of our caller Elaine, we had a great race which, as we found out later at the prize giving, gave us yet another 3rd and a matching set of bronze medals. 

Some of us danced the night away following prize giving while others, exhausted by the day’s efforts, retired in the hope of rejuvenating themselves for another early start to attend the Breast Cancer Breakfast hosted by the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.  Many thanks to NZBCF for another fantastic breakfast; it was very much appreciated by all the BC teams.

All that was left now was to return home triumphant with our medals clinking around our necks enhancing our uniforms, but also a little sad as this marked the end of another paddling season.   With winter training and monthly regattas on the horizon keeping fit through the winter months would still be an option. Pinkies will return next season with renewed enthusiasm and GOLD will be back at the top of our to-do list!!

 

Regionals 2014 - Lake Pupuke

(By Sue Munro)

Ready to go  2 When I first joined the Pink Dragons in December 2013, I was under the impression that it was all about friendship, keeping healthy and strong. Well Regionals certainly were a surprise, this was serious racing and winning a medal was important to the team.
 
Regionals at Lake Pupuke dawned a perfect day. The Auckland Dragon Boating community had worked very hard to set up the area with lanes for racing and pontoons for loading.
 
Our first two races, the 500m heats were all about getting the start right, which we did. We also had a great start in the Breast Cancer 500m final and powered hard to the finish, just trailing behind Boobops who won gold and Cansurvive silver. This put us in the bronze position, and my first medal!
 
The Rose Ceremony was a truly moving experience. All four breast cancer teams remained on the water, rafted up together and following a tribute to friends and family who have helped on our journeys of treatment and recovery, we had a minutes silence to remember the paddlers we have lost. As we paddled back to the pontoons a haka welcomed us ashore and on the hill behind a guard of honour of fellow paddlers formed which we all walked through. Wow, what an honour.
 
The 200m sprint heats were again time to ensure we had “eyes in the boat”, we listened to the starter, 100% ready for the “attention “call. Following a hard power to the finish we were rewarded in the 200m final with a bronze medal, much to our delight.
 
Our final race, the 2K, was a rolling start at 15 second intervals; this gave us a target to chase. As we crossed the finish line we were exhausted as we had given it everything and so it was with great pride we accepted our silver medals that evening.
 
Many thanks to Auckland Dragon Boating, our coach Sooupu and my fellow paddlers for such a memorable day, I’m  loving this sport, bring on Nationals!

Kai Iwi Lakes - 2014

(By Anna Southern)

Kai Iwi 002(copy)The weather was dubious as Lynn and I left Auckland on a bleak Friday afternoon, and we drove north through torrential downpours.  However by the time we arrived at Kai Iwi Lakes, we were welcomed with clear skies and the optimism of a fine weekend. This was my first year at Kai Iwi lakes for the dragon boat training weekend and I was looking forward to not only learning some new skills but enjoying the company of my fellow paddlers beyond the water.  We quickly located our fellow Pinkies already set up in their weekend homes and relaxing as they gazed across the glorious outlook of the lakes. Following time honoured traditions of NZ camping, the tent was quickly erected, gear packed away ready to participate fully in the weekend. The twilight paddle came and went during this time, but I knew there was going to be plenty of opportunity for paddling the next day. For those that did partake it was a glorious way to herald the sun’s departure.

Saturday commenced with the bustle of paddlers readying  for the dawn paddle across to the other side of the lake.  It was a  great way to start the day, paddling with others with those first inspiring sun rays rising over the horizon. 
 
Training session followed after breakfast. As I had joined the Pinkies at the end of last season I decided to start with beginnings group.  The wonderful Alisha did one on one with everyone, and then we proceeded out on the water and were given the opportunity as pairs to stroke until we couldn’t stroke anymore and then some…but still keep the technique correct.  Everyone became competitive to do more strokes than those proceeding so it was some time before we returned to shore. While there was a bit of standing around I had some great discussions with experienced paddlers helping us that were really useful for me.
 
The thing I really liked about the camp is that it was relaxed.  Anyone could join in when and with what they wanted.  A second training came and went for those paddlers whose earlier training session had been shorter. The afternoon provided lots of hilarity with the Les Mans racing.  With four mixed boats – gender, experience and ability and racing that included intermittent back paddling and boat reverse paddling,  the paddlers were put through their paces while those watching on shore were highly entertained.
 
Following the water challenges, land challenges were planned.  The drinking race was stopped mid way with the opening of the heavens and everyone rushing for shelter.  Our good weather had lasted for most of the day, but our social activities looked like they may be curtailed.  Not to be outdone by the weather, gazebo’s were marched across camp to create a big party area, from which everyone watched the evening entertainment of the team talent quest.  The Pink Dragons had come semi prepared and did an excellent rendition of “Show me the way to go home”, even securing a prize. The day ended with dancing for those still with energy left from the day.
 
Our highly anticipated Sunday brunch following a morning swim was reluctantly cancelled due to inclement weather returning and the need to get tents into cars as dry as possible.  However, a stop at Blah Blah Blah café in Dargarville provided a nice conclusion to the weekend before the drive back to Auckland
 
I really enjoyed getting out of Auckland for the weekend with some fun people, doing a bit of dragon boating, learning a few new skills, enjoying great company, being outrageous – it was casual, relaxed, fun and friendly.  I’ll be returning next year.

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Jan 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

pinkies(copy)It was early morning as the teams started gathering at the viaduct to set up gazebos on the site of the new ‘urban beach’ for yet another great days racing.  This year saw more teams than previous years take part, 32 in all, in what is fast becoming a very popular annual event.

The day was perfect for paddlers, friends and supporters and with the Seafood Festival in full swing, crowds of spectators gathered throughout the day, eager to watch the racing!

We were racing in the 10’s boats kitted out with dragon head and tails, drums and callers, always a wonderful sight to see the boats dressed up for the occasion.  Pinkies did well in their heats and managed an overall time that put us into the second final.   Support from friends, family and other teams members gave us heaps of encouragement (always appreciated by the Pinkies!) as we approached the finish line.

Finals completed, another successful Anniversary Day Regatta was done and dusted, our thoughts now turning to our next calendar event, Kia Iwi Boat Camp.

Tauranga Super 12 – 2013

(By Chris Johnson)


Tauranga 2013Boobops managed to pull this special regatta off yet again, not only was it smoothly run, great weather but they also won the BC final again too!  Pinkies gathered together Friday evening prepared for rain or shine and were pleasantly surprised to wake up to clear skies in the morning.A  ll BC teams were welcomed with a magnificent gift basket courtesy of Boobops filled with all kind of goodies to eat.

Our first race of the day was our fastest with a total of five short sprints including a BC final.  We had a good BC race and took 2nd place to Boobops.  After the race the teams rafted together for the flower ceremony with the most amazing smelling roses supplied by a Boobops team member from her own garden.  The music accompanying the ceremony was quite a departure from the norm with an adaptation of a Katy Perry song – ‘Roar’ performed live.

Great hosts gave us all a most enjoyable days racing so thank you once again to Boobops!

 

Hamilton Super 12 – November 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

Hamilton 2013This was the first regatta of the new season and a chance to see how the team were coming together on the water.  It was an early start to the day for team members carpooling to Hamilton but the promise of good paddling weather made the trip all worthwhile. 
 
This was a gentle start to racing as all 5 races were short sprints on the lake, no 2km for us today!  We were pleased with out efforts throughout the day and especially the BC final.  It was a very close call between Boobops and Pinkies.  We rafted up after the race for another very moving Flower Ceremony. The result of the race was announced at the prize giving with just a fraction of a second between us giving Pinkies 2nd place and Boobops 1st.  Tremendous paddling team, keep it up for Tauranga!

Tutukaka Super 12 - 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

photo (48) (240x157)The recently formed dragon boat club at Tutukaka organised their first regatta and invited teams from Auckland to join them for a day of racing and fun on their delightful harbour.  Pink Dragons formed a Super 12 team and joined them for the day along with several other Auckland teams.

Luckily the weather was favourable although a little choppy out on the water.  This led to a few heart raising moments as the old boats rocked dangerously close to capsizing a few times!
 
It was a bit of a mix and match day with the emphasis on fun.  The day started with new paddlers being given a quick induction on the shore on how to paddle and then off into the boats to join more experienced paddlers to have a go. 
 
There were two sprint races followed by a final. Further heats were called off due to the worsening conditions.  The last race was mixed teams made up from anyone who wanted to paddle one more race.  With the risk of capsize very clearly in our minds, some of us decided to quit while we were still reasonably dry!
 
The day was a great success, lots of fun and a great venue; hopefully this will become a regular event on the Auckland dragon boat calendar from now on.

 

Super 10's 28th July 2013

(By Liz Butcher)

IMGL7286 (800x574) (640x459) (230x165)A very pleasant winter day saw the Pink Dragons gather for the winter 10’s racing for July.
There were eight teams at the regatta, including a Paddle Waikato contingent, from whom we managed to borrow a BC paddler. Several 200m races each.
We were a subdued team as we remembered Karen, who so recently became our 3rd Paddling Angel.
We performed all right in the 200m races considering many of us have been on winter break. We felt ok and know we have something to build on.

We were privileged to share a rose ceremony with the Busting with Life Team on the water while a guard of honour formed onshore as we all paid our respects. The flowers were a mixture of blooms from Karen’s hospital room and blooms that had been selected to travel with her to her final resting place in Scotland. The flowers weren’t able to go after all so we released them on her behalf.

The final race of the day was a short 2km. How short? A welcome 1km short. We still did our turns, but not the tortuous course this race has been designed around in the past. At prize giving we were announced 5th! Wow, we were better than we realized….but our self-congratulations faded sheepishly when the results list was found to be faulty.  It was our main opposition who achieved 5th, and we were relegated to 8th. Mostly it was just nice being together, paddling in calm conditions for a change, in St Mary's Bay. A healing day for many of us.

Mothers Day Super 10's

(By Liz Butcher)

Mothers Day Super 10s(copy) A perfect still and sunny day saw several teams gathering for winter paddling races. The Pink Dragons had 10 for their boat. Sooupu was available as our sweep and we recruited a caller from the neighbouring supporters.

First time back for several us had the nerves showing pre-race but as soon as the paddles hit the water we were back in the groove.

Three 200m races then a final. That allowed a slow build up to match fitness. Then the final – what an exciting event. The Pink Dragons came second in a very close and well fought race. Lot’s a smiles and a real confidence boost for the team for competing in an open event.

The last event of the day was a longer race, with tight turns. The course was agreed. The sweeps had their instructions. The teams set off in a staggered start at intervals. The race was 500m, maybe more. After the excitement and success of the 200m’s it would be nice to report an equally impressive result but not so.

Overall, the morning was well spent and highly recommended for winter paddling. A great way to keep the paddle in the water and maintain fitness. The perfect weather was a delightful bonus that all enjoyed.

Nationals - Blue Lake, Rotorua 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

2 bronze 1 gold(copy)I think the photo says it all!  However allow me to elaborate a little on our weekend before I get to the best bit.  The team came well prepared for the chill that Rotorua can have at this time of the year.  Flashbacks to our last visit two years ago was a stark reminder of just what happens when soaking wet clothes meets cold air!  So it was no surprise then, when we arrived at the lake early morning to a chill, brisk wind, that we would be struggling to keep warm.  A very grey cloudy sky prevented the sun from showing it's face most of the morning by which time the cold was penetrating every inch of our wet clothing.  But clouds began to part early afternoon and we were once again blessed with the kiss of the sun and oh, how good that felt!
 
Our racing started with heats of 500m followed by our BC final.  Lining the boats up at the start proved very tricky for sweeps as the relentless wind spun the boats out of their lanes in all directions.  We were fired up to give this race our all but alas it proved not to be good enough to take the gold that we had so much wanted.  Boobops took 1st, Busting with Life 2nd and Pink Dragons 3rd.  But we were not beaten yet there were still two more BC finals to race in.  However the Flower Ceremony was our first priority and all boats rafted together after the race finished to remember those no longer with us.  The teams united as they held pink roses high in the air and the boats drifted towards the shore lined with paddlers, friends and supporters.  Once again a Haka was performed to honour us ladies, an emotional experience every time.
 
Now for the best bit!  It would be fair to say that races can be won or lost at the start line and today luck was with us in the 200m, helped enormously by the skills of our sweep, Anne-Marie.  The whole race was over in a flash and at first we weren’t absolutely sure if we had won but the beaming face of our coach Soupu from the shore confirmed that we had just nailed that much wanted GOLD medal.  What a moment that was, a huge cheer went up from our boat and I think I am speaking on behalf of the whole team when I say it was the biggest high we’ve ever had following a race!  Epson girls Grammar formed a guard of honour for us on the beach with chants of ‘PINK DRAGONS, PINK DRAGONS’  followed by a guard of honour by other teams that just seemed to go on forever!
 
One more race to go, the 2000km, a race that we always want to do well in.  Despite nearly loosing our sweep at one point we had a good race, but again not good enough to take that gold away from Boobops or the silver from Busting, Pinkies taking the bronze.
 
Receiving our gold(copy)Never did a hot tub feel as good as it did when we returned triumphant to our motel for a quick dip before dinner.  The Pinkies mood was one of great excitement as we anticipated receiving our gold and bronze medals that evening.  Medals received, hugs, kisses, photos, a drink (if you were lucky) and then for most of the team back to the motel for that long awaited wind down and sleep.
 

Early Sunday morning most of us refreshed, (some not quite) were ready in our smart new uniforms to attend the BC breakfast, a chance to reunite once again with all the BC teams courtesy of NZBCF.  There were some very inspirational speakers from the teams reminding us of just why we paddle.  Time for a last team farewell with hugs and kisses all round and with jingling medals, a triumphant return to Auckland.  It may be the end of the season but not entirely for paddling as we now look forward to winter training and Super 10’s fun regattas.  WELL DONE PINKIES, SEE YOU ALL THERE!!!

Regionals - Lake Pupuke 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

Flower ceremony(copy)It’s that time of year again in the dragon boat calendar where all those weeks of team training will dictate how we perform and the competition starts to get serious!

It was obvious from the outset that the day promised to be kind to us weather-wise with light fluffy clouds gently wafting across the sparkling but somewhat receding lake.  With a light wind, this was looking to be a good paddling day.  Promises were kept but with the breeze just strengthening slightly sweeps had their work cut out to get boats lined up at the start.
 
The days’ programme started with two heats of 500m races followed by the Breast Cancer final.  Pinkies gained their first medal, a bronze, not really our preferred colour but hey it’s a medal!
 
The flower ceremony followed immediately after the final. The beautiful roses were donated by Van Lier Nurseries for the ceremony, check them out at wwvanlier.co.nz.      For many newbies this was a first as they experienced the emotion of the ceremony as the boats rafted together.  Every woman on board united by their own experiences and remembering friends, family and team members who have lost their battle against breast cancer.  The roses were held high and finally cast into the water where they settled amongst the lily pads by the bank as a memory to those brave ladies no longer with us.
 
The programme continued with the heats for 200m and we were very disappointed to just miss out on a medal in this final.  Disappointment put aside, the team were ready for the next challenge, the 2km, an event that we as a team were very determined to do well in.  The race went well and we gained our second medal of the day, silver this time, joint 2nd place with Busting With Life.  Overall Boobops wiped the board with their 3 gold medals – well done to them but we haven’t given up yet!
 
The ADBA’s excellent organisation of the whole event was superb especially in overcoming the challenge of crew loading with a record low water line!  As a team we had a great day and it only remains to mention our appreciation for the Haka that was performed for the breast cancer teams following the flower ceremony and the amazing guard of honour formed by so many paddlers.  Never have we seen a line so long – a very humbling experience!

Make-a-Wish - Gulf Harbour 2013

(by Liz Butcher)

Make a wish(copy)(copy)(copy)Sunday training for the 3rd of March was an all day affair at Gulf Harbour shared with other ADBA teams. This was a great opportunity to prepare for a full day event giving us multiple races rather than the usual one hour practice as we ready ourselves for the coming Regional’s. The Pinkies had 2 teams entered. With 18 in the squad available which meant we had an overlap in each boat ensuring we all had plenty of opportunity to race often.
 
After days (weeks) of hot dry weather, we had a pre-start scare that rain was finally arriving but that was just a tease and we soon had another hot day on the water. The ADBA ran the competitions in their usual friendly and efficient way ensuring every team raced every other team.  The races were held in a small viaduct by the Field of Dreams – an outdoor cinema. Gulf Harbour is being developed and the area we used was great for our needs. The reason we were there was to support the Make A Wish foundation’s fun day to raise money for the great job they do in granting wishes to sick children. At the end of the day ADBA was able to present over $500 raised by the dragon boat event.
 
There was great excitement when the Pinkies 2 boat won their race in the finals. We benefited from having Sooupu as our sweep. He taught us all (other boats included) a lesson on positioning at the race start. His enthusiasm (shouting) helped lift us all the way to the finish. Since we know how that feels we have to take that learning to the Regional’s and do it again – but without Sooupu in the boat with us.
 
Being a fun day, teams were encouraged to dress up in costume. Some were very creative. Our own pinkies wore our race uniforms (we mean business!) with pink embellishments (we can have fun too!).  Our two gazebos, were festooned in pink feathers and flowers. There was a great camaraderie between teams. All would agree it was an excellent day out.

Kai Iwi Boat Camp - 2013

An account of the weekend by Liz, one of our newbies!

10 Feb 2013 Kai Iwi Lakes Dragon Camp 007  2 There’s the sound of a piston in my ears – in fact the sound of a whole engine room full of pistons. We are ploughing ahead through and across the water. Our arms the pistons, bodies rocking with technique and timing, the dragon boat the engine room and the heart of the boat is the team. The sound of the water washing along the boat as it’s passed from the front to the back. Sooupu yelling behind us to reach. What a magnificent feeling when it all comes together. Even if that’s only for the moment before my body starts complaining and my mind wonders how much longer I can keep this up. Actually the truth is the magnificent feeling is when my body complains and my head says stop and I keep going anyway.

Dragon camp at Kai Iwi Lakes. What a fabulous weekend. What a fabulous group of people. What a fabulous experience. The weather report was for sun and that is what we got.

Arriving on Friday afternoon with Robin, checking out the camp grounds and setting up camp. Finding the other Pinkies and friends. Setting up the gazebo and shared area. All that takes time. We picked a corner position close to the paddling end of the camp (some say “party central”). As far from the loo block as we could get, I think. Great toilet facility but a damn long walk in the dark!! I did mention the trees looked handy but was advised by Robin it was not the done thing! It was a joke on my part but in the “wee” hours of the morning I was wishing the loo block was closer to home.

First up was an evening paddle for all those who organized themselves well enough to arrive in time or who didn’t mind putting up a tent in the dark. Robin and I were there but missed the boat – I think by the amount of time it took to cull all the surplus stuff I had before we could set off; or maybe by the time it took us to set up the tent and get the framing to behave or to work out the strings that hold everything in place. We were lucky enough that the boat came back and enough got out to let a few more in. Thanks to those that went out again with us and those that let us in.

Then, there was time to set up air beds and shake out the sleeping bags before joining the other Pinkies settling into their new home away from home for some socializing while the team managers had their meeting to cook up the plans for torturing, I mean tutoring, us the next day.

Robin set her alarm ready for the morning paddle – we were not going to miss that boat. Turns out my cell phone alarm goes even Liz at Kai Iwiwhen switched off, so we were up earlier than expected. The sun rose slowly and gently over the hills across the lake from us. It was soft and pink as it broke then once my camera was away and we headed to the boats for the promised 7am paddle we were given a dazzling display of rich orange as the sun cleared the hills and shone across the water.

Four boats went out across to the other side and back. A perfect start to a great weekend. The first set of wet clothes for Robin’s trusty washing line.  Back at camp it was breakfast time and time to prepare for a 2-3 hour training session starting at 10am where we were divided into newbies, intermediate and hardcore!

I am a newbie, there were a lot of us – excellent! That means the sport is healthy. There were also a large number in the intermediate, another good sign.  For the newbies, Alesha gave us individual coaching. She didn’t take the boat out for a while, instead we had technique training then an individual assessment.  Before going out everyone in the group had to say what they wanted to learn, or clarify. It was good for us to realize the questions we had were often the same as others. Then the weather changed and we did get in the boat and headed around to the sheltered bay. A chance to show our new learning and finish the individual coaching.

The day then became a wonderful programme of boating events interspersed with eating opportunities.  So, lunch and back to the boats and more paddling. The lakes are just lovely. With a hot day the water is warm and wonderful. A chance to put into practice our training. And of course… race! Wow! Not sure how fast we went but surely there was a record broken! Ok – maybe not… just a personal best for me.

Then le mans… oh lord! Prayer is a friend of mine. I pray just to keep going some days. Races are hard. We train for races. This is not a Sunday paddle. Wow, what great fun! There was a course set, there were instructions involving a ball. There were lessons on right of way at the buoy. Not sure what happened about the ball but that didn’t quite work out. As for right of way… might is right! Ok – maybe not, there are rules… no one fell out. Until later. I’m glad I wasn’t in the boat that capsized. It was a controlled capsize and a lesson for us all.  Next, it was play time. Could a dragon boat drag a skier? Yes, they could but not for long. Someone did get up, nearly. I have a picture to prove it. A great sight and an excellent effort all round.

Robin wasn’t finished with me yet. Since the water was there and we needed to get wet it was a perfect opportunity for the swim test. Bella was rounded up as well and I am pleased to say I am expecting my 50m swimming certificate any day soon in the mail. Bella dashed off to her tent after and came back with soap! Smart thinking!!

So, what was left for the day? Dinner and a dance. A seriously full day and a fun packed evening. A stage was set in front of the main gazebo and car lights had to be found for lighting. All the teams were to prepare a skit. Some put in more practice than others. Ours being one of the others. Oh dear! A moment of panic. A decision that we abandon all hope then our team was called and we took the stage – all of us. I am pleased to say we won a box of chocolates. Some people thought we were robbed and should have got first prize. We were there though. If we were going to be fools, we were fools together. That is a team! The acts we followed were great and showed a lot more practice than ours but we were there to paddle not sing. We took our paddles to the “stage” and what started out as a gentle rendition of Rock the Boat soon become a pole dance act. There were timing issues and I think that is why we didn’t win… well done ladies anyway. The teams that did not prepare a skit were called to the stage and given their penance. What a great evening.  With the acts finished people either headed to their own little groups or found their beds. Some went night fishing and cooked up a small feast of yabbies! The music went on (and on) and a happy camp settled. If this is camping, it is not to be missed.

I was on my own mission though. I wanted a picture of the sunrise. Having seen the beautiful sunrise that morning I was determined to get a photograph the next day. Robin and I were up early and headed to the toilet block and found the best vantage point for the photos. Lovely. A slow gentle start to the day with a cup of tea at the Busting camp, as the rest of the camp rose at their own pace and started the process of de-camping. Breakfast, take the tent down, pack the car and wave good bye Kai Iwi Lakes. Ahhhh… wonderful!

What I learned in the weekend
- the alarm on my cell phone goes even when the phone is turned off
- if you’re late you miss the boat
- if you’re lucky the boat comes back for you – if they have an empty seat
- it’s a good idea to plan your meals with your buddies so you don’t take excess food
- you do not need half the things you take – you are not gone that long from civilization
- you can not find the thing you are looking for anyway – even though it was packed
- pack plenty of knickers and pants – they keep getting wet
- the sun rises between 6:30 and 7:00
- it’s a good idea to practice your skit if you have to perform one
- it’s good to have a team with you even if you haven’t practiced the skit
- if Lyn has a paddle and an audience – she’ll use it for pole dancing
- timing is good and when you have it it’s wonderful – but just keep going anyway
- breathing is good – don’t forget it
- if Sooupu gets anywhere near another boat there will be a race – one there and one back (actually, I knew that already)
- a team of dragons can tow a water skier – nearly
- it’s fun finding that out
- dragon boaters are great people
- lean forward, shoulder over knee, draw back using legs, twist shoulders as you go… and power!
- grab the water the person pushes your way and push it on back to the next
- breathe

Auckland Anniversary Day - Super 10’s 2013

viaduct 2013The forecast was for another resoundingly spectacular day as the teams began setting up in the viaduct for what has become an ever growing regatta.  For the first time Pink Dragons entered two teams and the competition within the team was heightened as we competed to outdo each other! 
 
The crowds began to increase throughout the day with tourists, supporters and spectators just soaking up the atmosphere in and around the viaduct.  We raced splash and dash heats against mixed teams in our new 10 person boats.  There was much excitement within our 2 teams as we cheered and shouted for each other.  With no direct competition between team 1 and 2 it was all down to the team with the best results overall.  It was unanimously agreed that team 2 came out on top – so well done to them!
 
This regatta has grown immensely over the past three years and hopefully still growing.  With it’s special atmosphere, support from the Auckland Dragon Boat Association and Auckland Council it’s future is, hopefully, secure.   The Pinkies will be back for sure next year!

Wenderholm  2012

Tug a war Wenderholm 1A perfect day greeted us as we arrived at Wenderholm  with the expectation of a great day of racing, sun, sea and sand, what more could you ask for!
 
The racing got off to a start with an incoming tide making loading the boats quite tricky as we negotiated the waves.  Once we were away from the shore it was all good and  as the day progressed loading the boats became a good deal easier as the tide gradually retreated.  Our newbies took it all in their stride and thoroughly enjoyed their first regatta with the team.
 
We enjoyed a shared lunch and a visit from santa himself.  Unfortunately one of our team members got more than she bargained for when one of his lolly’s hit her on the mouth and gave her a bit of a fat lip!  Team tug-of-war followed but unfortunately we were beaten by Busting with Life.
 
The last race of the day was a relay race with four teams made up of paddlers from different teams.  It was great fun, especially when a wave capsized the leading boat, out spilling all paddlers into the sea.  It just shows the unexpected can happen just when you think you’ve got the race in the bag!
 
After last years complete wash out at Wenderholm, this year was a resounding success.  Hope next year will be just as good, looking forward to it already!

Tauranga Super 12 - 2012

Paddling out Tauranga 1 1The paddling gods were with us today,  all those rain dances must have worked this time!  Instead of trying to keep out of the rain we were trying to stay out of the sun – but we weren’t complaining.

Boobops once again managed and organised the event and the day went off without a hitch.  The breast cancer teams were lucky enough to be presented with a gift basket for each team full of fruit and goodies, so thank you to those who organised them.

Pink Dragons race results presented no real victory for us in the breast cancer race as Boobops took 1st place, Busting with Life just managing to pull ahead of us to take 2nd place and Pink Dragons 3rd.  The flowers for the ceremony following the race were beautiful and as last year, were picked by one of Boobops team members from her own garden.  Mark Tauranga 1

Another great weekend, with lots of laughs shared. Thanks also to our team member for the day, Mark for stepping up and padding with us and being such a good sport!

Hamilton Super 12 - 2012

Hamilton 2012 1With rain forecast for the day, the expectation was that it would be a wet and cold experience.  It was no surprise therefore that it did indeed rain all day!  However team spirit was good and we all made the most of the day. 
 
The breast cancer final was a very close call, with Boobops just taking 1st from us with a tiny lead.  A flower ceremony followed to honour our paddling angels.
 
Then time to pack up in the rain and get soaking wet clothing replaced with dry before the long drive home. Despite the rain, we had a good day, better luck next year with the weather hopefully!

Paddle for Hope  2012

Pink Dragons SUP teamThe weather turned up trumps for this event held at the Auckland viaduct. A fun annual festival of Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) devised by breast cancer survivor Karin Horen to raise money for breast cancer awareness.  Pink Dragons entered a team comprising two members and one seconded for the day!   After some practice paddling and a spot of yoga to limber up, the race was on with teams in all manner of fancy dress.  We didn’t win but we didn’t disgrace ourselves either by coming last  A great venue, great weather and great fun what more could you ask for!

 

 

The Pink Dragons baring all for a good cause

Calendar girlsEight members of the Pink dragons team were invited to be part of this year's Pink Ribbon Calendar. Art Directors Anna Molineaux and Cathy Davies, both highly respected body artists, had a unique challenge to paint one pink dragon on 8 bodies. The painting took 10 hours to complete and started with a simple sketch across all of the girls and then each of the Pinkies were painted individually. At the end of the day they fitted together to form this beautiful Pink Dragon symbolizing strength and togetherness.

As their October quote reads - 'Oh my friends, it's not what they have taken away from you that counts - it's what you do with what you have left'.

The calendar is available in all Whitcoulls stores or on line at
www.pinkribboncalendar.co.nz
Please support this wonderful fundraising event - $10 from every calendar goes to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

Splash & Dash Super 10 - September 2012

Super 10 Splash and DashOnce again ten members of the Pink Dragons team gathered with fellow paddlers at Westhaven for a morning of racing and to have some fun at the same time.  A keen southerly made racing pretty chilly especially when we were wet through, but glimpses of the sun occasionally gave us the opportunity to warm up.

Fun we certainly had as we took part in a couple of sprint races, a final and a timed circuit course.  This last timed race proved to be very interesting as we paddled 360º around several marker buoys.  At one point we had a close encounter with another boat but our sweep, who coaches Shirley Boys High in Christchurch, steered us out of trouble and nobody ended up in the water.  However seeing a dragons head heading straight towards you is pretty alarming!

The results of the mornings racing wasn’t as important as getting together with other team members, catching up with everyone and doing what we love to do most PADDLING!!!

Pink Ribbon Breakfast -2012

 
Pink Ribbon Breakfast 2One of our Pinkies kindly hosted a Pink Ribbon Breakfast at her house one Sunday morning.  Pink was the order of the day with pink nibbles and balloons galore.  The breakfast was well attended by pinkies and friends, many wearing pink themselves, we even had a pink fairy in our midst!
 
Everyone gave generously, bought raffle tickets and Pink Ribbon merchandise.  The grand total collected was $334 and this money will go towards funding community outreach programmes throughout the country. The programmes help to heighten community awareness of breast cancer and provide support that assists to improve the quality of life of people affected by breast cancer in New Zealand.  As breast cancer survivors we know how important these programmes are and that this will be money well spent.

Hot Rocking Super 10’s - Westhaven  - May 2012

 
May 10s at Pier X   CopyPicture the scene as we arrived early morning at Westhaven, a blanket of fog swirling over the water giving a cold almost spooky feel to the ocean.  Then out of the mist slowly emerge our dragon boats silently gliding through the water, what an amazing entrance for our new super 10 boats.  Then the fog began to lift to the promise of a good morning ahead and by the look of some of our Pinkies a lot of fun too!
 
We were told to dress for the occasion and we certainly did!  Out came our new pink and black woolly hats; on went pink feather boas and pink flower lays and even a pink wig, what a sight we must have looked! 
 
We competed in two short races before a final, followed by a longer race which involved several 180º‘s and a 360º hand brake turn!  The sweeps are loving these new short boats as they manoeuvre so easily around tight turns. We were amazed to hear that we had achieved the fourth fastest time in this race – well done Pinkies!  This was a ‘fun’ regatta and we all certainly had a lot of that today, bring on the next one.

Hammerheads Evening – 2012

 
Annemarie with awardOnce again the team were all invited to attend an evening get-together at the exceptional location of Hammerheads organised by our Captain, Paula, who is both partner in the restaurant and one of our sponsors.  Food and drink was supplied by Paula and was, as usual, plentiful and delicious.
 
The evening is primarily to thank all our sponsors, unfortunately none were able to attend this year but our thanks goes out to them anyway.  Without their funding we would not be able to train, enter regattas or be kitted out with uniforms.  However we were pleased to welcome two representatives from Auckland Dragon Boat Association this year who presented us with gold medals for our win in the Regional 2000m race.  The whole team were overjoyed to receive their first gold medal!

Besides enjoying a team reunion the evening presents an opportunity to announce the Team Member of the Year award.  This year it went to Annemarie Stevens for her remarkable effort to train as a sweep for the team.  She showed great confidence and ability as she took on what is a very difficult job.  The whole team were unanimous in their approval of this years’ choice, CONGRATULATIONS ANNEMARIE!

Auckland Anniversary Day

Racing in the finals  1A Rookie's recall of her first Regatta

Auckland really knows how to celebrate it's birthday.  Despite weeks of miserable weather leading up to the event, the sun was glistening on the water in the Viaduct,  welcoming me to my very first Dragon Boating event.
 
Amidst the crowds of colourful sporting uniforms, banners and throngs of tents,  I managed to find the sea of candy pink singlets indicating that my team, The Pink Dragons, were set up for the day and ready to compete.  The Viaduct was alive with drums, boats and people.  I wasn't sure of what to expect, but was quickly reassured by team members about the events for the day, and our plan of attack.   The nerves were building before the first race, fueled by the crowds and the insistency of the drums. It seemed almost incongruous to be in a dragon boat in the narrow Viaduct channel, flanked by Mega-yachts!
 
Not only was I a rookie to dragon boat racing, I was also just released from my treatment program for breast cancer,  my year to date being filled with doctors, operations, chemotherapy and radiation.  It was timed perfectly for me to begin training with the team, and I couldn't think of a better way than paddling twice a week in the Westhaven Marina to banish the demons of a not so great year.  The fitness and companionship with a group of women who had been through the same experience was invaluable.
 
The races were over in a flash, our results were forgotten just as quickly, as we entered the gangplank of hand slapping and comraderie, as each race ended.   The crowd was amazing and so was the spectacular venue.  As far as a rookie racing for the first time, it couldn't get any better. This competition was just the appetizer for the events to come, but like a memorable meal, is not one that is easily forgotten, with a perfect balance of competition coupled with a glamour location.  Happy birthday Auckland!

Nationals Lake Hood - 2012

Medals Lake Hood 2012 1Memories of our last Nationals at Lake Hood were still in the forefront of many of the  Pinkies minds.  The extreme cold of that day chilled our bodies to the bone and thus made us pack to be prepared for the worst!  We need not have worried because the day couldn’t have been any different from that last one.  A crisp morning was followed by sunshine throughout the day and everyone gave a sigh of relief.

With such good conditions our Pink Dragons sweep, Annemarie, was able to take up the challenge to test her sweeping skills in the most important event of the year.  She rose to every challenge and showed the team that she had indeed mastered the skill of sweeping – well done Annemarie!

The racing got off to a bit of a late start and after two heats of 500m races we were preparing for the breast cancer final.  A close call as usual and we took third place with Boobops taking 1st and CanSurvive 2nd.  The flower ceremony took place immediately following the race and as we came ashore we were honoured with a haka performed by some of the high school boys.

The 200m also gave us 3rd place for the breast cancer teams as did the 2000m.  One or two hiccups during this race may have lost us vital seconds that could have given us 2nd place.  However, the team were more than happy with their effort; after all, we came away with three bronze medals and were delighted to be presented with so much bling!

Following the presentation most of the team returned to the accommodation to mull over the events of the day with a well earned glass of wine beside the warm glow of the fire before retiring to bed.  The following morning was an early start for the drive back to Ashburton to attend the Breast Cancer Breakfast with other BC teams.  After breakfast and some farewells to old friends, the Pink Dragons headed off to Christchurch for a tour of the city, with it’s sad reminders of the devastating earthquake that tore it apart.  Then it was time to head off to the airport for our return to Auckland.

This weekend has meant more than just winning medals, it has brought out the team spirit and camaraderie of twenty-four survivors brought together by a common experience and a passion for dragon boating and without this the team could not exist.  Next season ‘go harder pinkies’ we’ve still got unfinished business of a goal not yet achieved!


Regionals Lake Pupuke – 2012

Arriving at the Lake in the morning the team could see they were going to be in for a rough ride!  The wind was whipping the lake into a frenzy of waves and promised to make paddling today more like a white water event with challenges all round for both paddlers and sweeps.

Today our Pink Dragons sweep, Annemarie, was to sweep for us in her first regional regatta.  With the prevailing conditions all the new sweeps found lining the boats up at the start line challenging.  In our first 500m we collided with a boat in the next lane as their boat edged nearer and nearer to ours and finally locked the two boats together momentarily.  In the second race a boat capsized, whew! It wasn’t us!  Officials announced that only experienced pool sweeps would be used for safety unless conditions improved.

The cross wind didn’t let up as we all paddled through the heats and the team was delighted to be awarded three trophies.  One for 3rd place in the 200m, 3rd in 2000m  Premier Women’s Division and best of all a 1st for the fasted breast cancer team in the 2000m.  A great result for all our hard work!

Once again we remembered our ‘paddling angels’ in a moving flower ceremony and as usual there was tremendous support from all teams and spectators.

The team was more than satisfied with their achievements today and I know we’ll do our best to do even better at the Nationals next weekend.  Kia Kaha Pink Dragons!


Kai Iwi Lakes Summer Dragon Boat Camp

Kai Iwi LakesThe third annual dragon boat camp kicked off on Friday, February 10, with 10 members of the Pink Dragons team and two Under 23 paddlers who accompanied their mums. 

On Friday evening conditions on the lake were absolutely superb for the sunset paddle, but unfortunately Pinkies missed the boats, literally, and stood forlornly on the shore, but admiring the sunset nevertheless.  Our next chance for a “leisurely” paddle was the sunrise Tour de Lake at 7am on Saturday.  The great thing about the DB camp is that all crews are mixed, so it’s a good opportunity to meet other dragon boaters we might never encounter except under competition conditions.

At 9 am we were divided into Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice groupings.  I was most impressed to see the size of the Novice group.  This season’s recruitment campaign has obviously been most successful.  The Advanced group was defined as comprising paddlers who have been dragon boating for 5 years or more, the Intermediate group 2-4 years and the Novices under 2 years.  Nothing about how fit we are!

With Sooupu at the helm of our Advanced group boat and Chris Stone in the bow, the next hour and a half was a gruelling session of stretching us to our limits and trying out race formats.  There were 4 of us Pinkies and a boatload of fit young people.  But we held our own and managed to walk, unaided, off the boat at the end. The intermediate group were also pushed to their limits and I believe the Novices were out under the command of a hard taskmaster, for a good two hours!

After lunch followed more training and the nice thing about this camp is that nothing is compulsory.  Most of us turned up for the team relay races at in the afternoon. The first 4 boats raced Le Mans style from the shallows, via a triangular course, back to the beach, tagged our next team who did the same, then the first pair of teams with all members ashore and Hi-Fived to the end were the winners.  Some of the Pinkies managed all the training AND the races.  Go girls!

Team races 1The fine weather faltered in the middle of Saturday, but was fine again by the evening. Happy Hour almost became dinner, as we shared our snacks and cooked our camp dinners before heading off to the fun and games of land races.  Amazingly, some still had the energy to participate in the relay races which involved mind-altering beverages, plus mind-altering actions with a paddle that made running in a straight line something of a challenge and a source of hilarity for the spectators.

The balmy evening encouraged chatting, laughing, singing and dancing until the 10.30 curfew of the campground.  The snores audible throughout the campground testified to some sound sleeps that night.

Sunday dawned sunny and hot again, and the real world began to intrude upon our idyllic camp.  Some had to depart early, and some of us took our time packing up and having a last lazy swim before heading back to Auckland.

Chris Stone and his AklDBA committee did a fine job of organising this increasingly popular highlight of the dragon boat season.  We Pinkies who attended would like to encourage even more of our members to join us next February at Kai Iwi Lakes.

 

Hamilton Super 12 - 2011

pinkies under cover 1I think it would be fair to say that most of the team came prepared for a reasonably warm sunny day’s racing at the Lake today.  No-one could have guessed how unpredictable the weather would be!  Gusts of wind began to pick up in the morning and so did the gazebos! 
 
Our first race didn’t go quite to plan, with a false start as some of our team thought they heard someone shout ‘GO’ and did just that and the rest of the team decided they’d better go too!  Part way through the race we were clipped from behind by another boat and our sweep (not Sooupu) veered across several lanes in an attempt to avoid a collision.  Most of us wondered what on earth was happening but just carried on paddling as we’ve been taught to and we came 2nd!  Subsequent races saw us placed 2nd, 3rd, 2nd and in the Breast Cancer Final we were 2nd.
 
It was just around lunch time that the first sudden deluge of rain caught us out with everyone desperately scrambling for any kind of cover they could find.  Once we were all well and truly soaked through the rain stopped and the sun came out once again and racing continued.  Ominous grey clouds started to gather as we loaded the boats for the Breast Cancer Final.  As we raced to the finish line the heavens opened on us in a torrent of rain.  Four boats laden with rain drenched paddlers, callers and sweeps rafted up reluctantly for the flower ceremony, limply holding their flowers aloft.  Our sweep, Sooupu shouted, “Forget the music, just throw the flowers”.   Flowers thrown, the boats headed back to the shore following the quickest flower ceremony ever!
 
As we all packed up our soggy gear the skies gradually cleared and by the time we set off for home it turned out to be a rather fine evening.  We had a great days racing, our results proved that and the rest, well we can just look back and laugh about it now and look forward to the next regatta.

 

Tauranga Super 12 – 2011

New look Pinkies 2There was quite an excited buzz amongst the team on Friday evening as individuals arrived at the accommodation and were issued with their long awaited new team racing shirts.  Lots of discussion and thought had gone into the design of these shirts  and here they were at last to be premiered at tomorrow’s regatta!

Unfortunately the wind was taken out of our sails as soon as we reached the venue  we realised the old boats would be in use and would snag our beautiful new shirts on their high sides!  So photos taken, off they came and on went the old shirts instead.  That aside, once again Boobops did us all proud, with an excellently organised event.  All the breast cancer survivor teams again received a wonderful basket of goodies which was very much appreciated by the team.

We took part in two races before the breast cancer race.  Boobops took first place by a boats length and Pink Dragons just beat Busting to the line for second place.  The race was then followed by a very moving flower ceremony.  The beautiful roses were provided by one of Boobops own team members from her garden.

One more race bought the days racing to an end for us and it was time to pack up and set off for the long drive home.  It had been another successful day’s paddling and I think the team would all agree that we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to take part in such a wonderful sport!
 

Splash & Dash Super 12 Westhaven – 2011

Pinkies at Splash   DashAs the Pinkies assembled for our first fun dragon boat regatta of the new season there were some very grey clouds gathering overhead.  Would they dampen our enthusiasm today or would our keenness to paddle after a long break override a shower or two?

There was lots of excited chatter as we greeted old team buddies and welcomed some new ones.  Today was all about having fun with rules also relaxed a little, hence we were joined by one or two members from other teams to make up our numbers.

All the races were short and sweet approx 250m with three boats per race, perfect for the start of the season as some of us had limbs and muscles that were a bit out of practice!
Our races went well and we surprised ourselves with good finishes.  In the final we managed first place, a result the team were more than happy with for our first regatta of the season. 
This was a great start now we just need to knuckle down to training and go from strength to strength and we’ll be right Pinkies!

 

Nationals -Blue Lake Rotorua 2011

Blue_lake_1.JPGWe were pre-warned that the forecast for the Nationals would be rain and we were not disappointed!  Most of the team arrived at various times on Friday and after an early night we woke Saturday to a dry morning and were teased  with a ray of hope, soon to be dashed, as we arrived at the lake and the first of the rain dampened our day.  Rain or shine however cannot take away from the sheer magic of this lake and whatever the weather it’s a privilege to be part of this event!

We worked our way through the heats keeping a careful watch on our times and how we might ‘fine tune’ before the breast cancer final.  This race is always such an important one for us as a team and as always we put our heart and soul into it.  It wasn’t enough however, and we came third and another bronze medal for the collection.

The disappointment of another year without a gold medal was soon put aside as the boats rafted up together for the flower ceremony and we gave a few moments of thought and prayer for our paddling angels and then cast our flowers onto the lake.

This year there were two new race categories to enter – a 250 metre sprint and a 2 kilometre race.  The 250 metre sprint should have The_happy_team_1.JPGbeen a breeze for us BUT – we panicked and our paddling turned to s*!t.  Oh well we’ll learn by our mistakes.  On the other hand we entered the 2k race with no expectation other than to paddle at a steady pace and finish it.  But as we got into the rhythm we began to pick up the pace and suddenly it was game on!  We were racing for a place and we got a well deserved third – not bad considering we were up against teams that were non-breast cancer too!  We were pretty proud of ourselves as I don’t think any of us thought we had anything left at the end of the day to give to that race, but it just shows that when that adrenaline kicks in anything is possible.

After a wonderful breakfast sponsored and organised by NZBCF for all the breast cancer survivor teams we left Rotorua tired, and I hope, with some good memories of a great weekend despite the rain.  Lets hope next time we return it will be to a glorious day of sunshine – fingers crossed!!!

Regionals - Lake Pupuke 2011

Manju_and_Marie.JPGThe lake put on its best glistening sparkle for us as the sun shone down on it for the Regionals and produced a great days’ racing for all.  We had yet another close Breast Cancer Final placing Pink Dragons in 3rd place, Boobops 2nd and another victory for Busting with life in 1st place.  It was a chance also for two of our newest members to experience the challenge of competitive racing.  Here’s how Manju writes about her first experience. (Manju on left Marie on Right)

“I have been lucky, really lucky, I had been asked if I could paddle for  the regionals at Lake Pupuke. Could a day be more perfect? I didn’t know what to expect, but by now I have so much faith in my team that I would brave anything as long as I was in the same boat as them.

By now, I have known a bit more of each of their journeys and I am so inspired by the courage and strength that each one has that I feel its a privilege to be able to paddle with one… so paddling with 19 of the most awesome women I have come across is something amazing. Our team completed six races and I received my first bronze medal, not just the first medal for dragon boating, but the first in my whole life!  The races were tough but the ‘Flower Ceremony’ was tougher.  Today at my first flower ceremony I found it profoundly moving and strengthening. I wish more women would have the luck to learn from my pink sisters as I have.

Six races to complete on a day was tough and if I thought that racing in a breast cancer survivor team was wishy-washy, I was wrong,  You could cut the air with a knife, and gritty determination ruled all the teams. Our competition was awesome, truly worthy of respect, and the underlying emotion for all of us was “ We’re all in the same boat”.

Tauranga Super 12 – Tauriko Lake - 2011


Ready_to_race_1.JPGThis year the Super 12 regatta was held for the first time at the beautiful setting of the Tauriko manmade Lakes, a superb location just a short distance out of Tauranga.  The Boobops team did a magnificent job of organising the event and the day was blessed with heaps of sunshine to aid, what was to be a day of good paddling, fun and great camaraderie.

Our first two races were against non-breast cancer teams and although we paddled our hearts out we are very rarely a match for these teams as they always include big burley male paddlers with strong arm muscles and today was no exception!

During the morning, to our delight, Boobops organised and delivered beautiful baskets of morning tea for the breast cancer teams, full of all kinds of goodies to eat.  Thank you so much!  It was obvious from the way everyone was tucking in that it was really appreciated!

This breast cancer race was particularly poignant for us as a few days previously we had lost a dear member of our paddling team, Leonie to breast cancer.  We paddled the race for her and as the boats rafted up for the flower ceremony our thoughts and hearts were for our paddling angel and all the others who had gone before.

We paddled well the rest of the day and we made it into a final, but alas for all our effort we took fourth place.  However, we didn’t go home feeling despondent, we’d had a wonderful day hosted by Boobops who’d made us feel so very welcome, a big THANK YOU once again for all their efforts.

Auckland Anniversary Day  - Super 16 Regatta 2011 

Auckland_Anniversary_Day_.JPGThe Viaduct harbour always proves to be the setting for a great days racing and today was no exception.  With the Seafood Festival in full swing along one side, restaurants, cafes and bars geared themselves up for a busy day ahead.The scene was completed by a line of tightly packed together gazebos belonging to the dragon boat teams, all ready for some fun and action.

We were up against some strong opposition as all teams taking part were non-breast cancer apart from Busting with Life.  Three boats took part in most races and you could say we were very consistent throughout the day, taking 3rd place in each of our rounds (yes that does mean we were last) until our final that is!

Our final consisted of three all woman teams; two breast cancer, Pink Dragons and Busting with Life and Jaffettes, a non-breast cancer team.  We’ve never managed to beat Busting yet but today we paddled our socks off and we did it!! It was a close race but the result was Jaffettes took first place by a fraction of a second.  Even though we didn’t win it was still a good result for us.

It was a great day not just for the paddlers but also for all the spectators who came to watch, including supporters for family and friends that cheered us on.  I’m sure we all hope this will become an annual event on the Auckland dragon boat calendar from now on.

Wenderholm Funday Regatta - 11 Dec 2010


Santa_comes_to_Wenderholm_1.JPGAnother fun day was had at The Wenderholm Beach Regatta. The weather stayed dry and we all stayed entertained. 

The first of 3 races before lunch had us all paddling our hearts out over the 500m distance. With warm water and not too choppy waves we got third. Third was very much the result of the day as we battled against Random Jaffa women, Busting with life and White Tigers to name but a few in our subsequent races.

Beach races are always fun, as to finish teams have to beach their boat in the shallows whilst one of the team scrambles out and races to a marker on the sand. We tied third in our second race when Yvonne’s mad dash up the beach was to close to call with our competitors.

Lunch was our Christmas picnic and as usual when women get together with shared lunch there was far too much food. Some of it was even good for us! Fun and games started after lunch. Soupu made a spirited attempt at the sack race and the kids all had a great time with the jandal toss and the special visit from Santa with his lolly bag.

Races after lunch were the Le Mans style. Toni (our newest recruit) had to stay on dry land and race to the boat before we could all push off and start paddling. The races were 250m with a turn half way. Soupu kept us all in line and no capsizes were reported!
Another great day of paddling for us and a great pre-Christmas get together for us all.

 

Hamilton Super 12 – 4th Dec 2010

The team gathered early on Saturday morning to the promise of fine weather for racing.  As the day progressed the clouds broke and the sun produced a sweltering hot day that sent most of us seeking some shade when we weren’t actually on the water.

Ready_to_go__2_.JPGOur first race of the day gave us a tremendous boost as we took first place.  It was however, the only win of the day for us and unfortunately a bit of a bad start in our second race, but these things happen!  We raced well throughout the day and didn’t have the misfortune that one of the teams had, as the hooter sounded at the race start – they capsized leaving all twelve paddlers, a sweep, a caller and their boat at the start line! This delayed the race programme slightly as they were toed back to shore accompanied by cheering from the onlookers.

We went into the breast cancer final with confidence and as ever it was a close call with Busting with Life taking first place by a fraction of a second and Pink Dragons and Boobops tying second place.  Immediately after the race the boats rafted up for a flower ceremony.

It was a great day enjoyed by all, now we need to go back to the drawing board to see how we can improve before the start of the 2011 regattas.

 

Dragons Abreast Regatta – Darling Harbour Sydney Trip

October 2010

posing_for_photo_1.JPGFriday morning, October 29th, the Pink Dragons are gathering at the airport check-in, excitedly anticipating their first international regatta as a full team. We’ve been planning and training for this for months, including some cold winter mornings.  The Air NZ crew make an announcement, wishing our team well this weekend.  On arrival at Sydney we make quite an impression as we troop through the airport in our uniform, pink paddle bags slung over our shoulders, people curious as to what we’re carrying in those bags!  We are questioned by many people and wished ‘good luck’ en route from the airport to our apartments. 

Friday afternoon and Saturday is free time to see some of the sights or catch up on shopping at some of the markets.  Some of us manage both and by the end of Saturday we have just about shopped ourselves out!  Saturday evening we have our pre-race meeting and get down to the serious business of why we are here.  Later, some of us watch the All Blacks v Wallabies match only to be totally demoralised when the Aussies beat us in the last few seconds of the game.  Oh well, I suppose we have to let them win sometimes!

ready_to_go_1.JPGSunday – this is it, it’s what we came for!    It is a perfect day for paddling on Darling Harbour, the venue and the atmosphere is amazing.  We wait quite a while for our first heat but finally it’s time for the warm up, line-up, team photo, line-up again and off we go to boat loading.  Now everyone is nervous. We don’t have our familiar sweep and coach, Sooupu to guide us through the race.  Brenda, our Aussie sweep, is lovely, but she speaks a different language! It is a tricky start, with calls that we don’t quite understand and suddenly it’s all go.  Once we’re on our way we know what to do and we come second! The next heat follows much the same pattern as the first – minus the photos.  We understand the calls better this time and well, would you believe it – we win! As our Aussie sweep says “I reckon it’s a tenner”!  This means that we make it to the finals. 

Lining up for the start of the final is a very tense time, but once that hooter sounds, we just put everything we possibly can into the race.  Final outcome: 1st DA Melbourne – 1.17.270, 2nd DA Geelong -1.18.010, 3rd Busting with Life -1.18.870 - Well done Busting!!, 4th Pink Dragons (by 0.3 sec) - 1.19.200 - Well done us!! 

looking_relaxed_1.JPGFollowing the Breast Cancer Survivors Final, eight boats of breast cancer survivors raft up together in the harbour to remember all those who have not shared our good fortune to survive, and the many who are undergoing treatment.  We throw handfuls of pink rose petals onto the water then let the boats drift apart.  Each paddler takes up their paddle and the boats follow one behind the other for a circuit of honour round the harbour. The only sound is the gentle tap-paddling rhythm of each crew. Then the cheering begins and follows us back to the pontoons. It is very emotional.

To round off the weekend we go out to Wagamama for our team dinner on Sunday evening followed by drinks and nibbles in one of the apartments.  After saying our goodbyes at Auckland airport on Monday we take home our memories.  Everyone agrees that they had an amazing time in Sydney.  We’ve had an experience that we will always remember and we hope, one day, we may be able to repeat it. 

A big ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who put in the hard work raising funds and organising the trip, it was a huge success. 

 

Flippin' Freezin' Super 12 - 2010

                                                                   Flippin_Freezin_Super12_1.JPGIt took all our will power to get up early on a cold weekend morning but once we got to Westhaven the sun was shining and the teams were ready for action and we all caught the mood. The first set of races was the long 3.5km under the Harbour bridge and back. It looked like hard work as we watched from the shore as the teams fought the current and their own tiredness. The fun started as the boats had to manouvre around the bridge supports. It was tight turn between the White Tigers and Lion but Soupu steered the team round on the inside with no collision or upset.

As there weren’t enough breast cancer teams members to have two teams some of our team joined Busting to create ‘pink busts’. We watched as they got through the waves and made a respectable time of 23 mins when the other boats were finishing at about 18 mins. Not bad for paddlers who hadn’t all paddled that far before.

Next came our team races. The boats were quickly loaded and we got ready on the start line. We were off pulling away as fast as we could manage, two reaches later and we had finished. It was all over so quickly and at 250m’s only half our normal race distance. two more races followed and we used them to get our technique right as we practiced our starts.  By the last race we felt good and back in action as a team after a long winter break. A good day was had by all and a useful re-bonding exercise was started. Roll on the start of the season! 

Thank you to our Sponsors

Another successful evening was organised by Team Captain Paula at Hammerheads Restaurant to thank our sponsors who have supported our team throughout 2009/2010 with their generosity. Without their support Pink Dragons would not have been able to have participated in events throughout the dragon boating season and purchased much needed equipment.

Sue_receiving_award_1.JPGPaula, (owner of Hammerheads) as a sponsor herself, put on yet another wonderful spread of food and drink for us as we gathered for what has become an annual event in our Pink Dragon calendar. Robin, our Team Leader, offered thanks to our sponsors for their continuing support and presented them with a team photo.  Paula announced that the Team Member of the Year trophy this year would go to Sue Jenness – well done Sue!

 

  

Pinkies in Canada

IPS_Kiwis_Canada_2010_1.jpgWhat a way to skip some of the gloom of a NZ winter! But that’s not the reason 4 members of the Pink Dragons team headed to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in June 2010. Leonie, Elaine, Sue and Robin attended the third World Participatory Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Festival together with 2 paddlers from the Waikato, one from Wellington, and one from the Wairarapa. These 8 proud Kiwis joined an international team called the International Pink Sisters, together with 7 Canadians and 6 Americans.

The IPS met each other over dinner one night, practised together on the water for an hour the next day, and raced together in 4 races over the next two days, winning 2 of those races and coming 3rd in another.

A special race was the Sandy Smith Global Race, in memory of a woman who was instrumental in helping establish teams all over the world. It is an honour to participate in this race, in crews comprised of members of different teams from around the world. Our own Leonie was chosen from the IPS team, and her boat won the race. Could that be Leonie’s paddling, or the efforts of the male breast cancer survivor in her boat?

After the race, 10 boats rafted together for the Flower Ceremony. During this moving event, a choir sang, and a formation of marchers bearing a long swathe of pink fabric created the international Pink Ribbon symbol. When the paddlers in the boats cast their flowers into the water, the remaining paddlers from 75 teams from around the world, who lined the lakeshore, followed suit, in a shower of pink carnations.

Kiwis_at_Gala__dinner.jpgThe hospitality of Peterborough was amazing. The festival participants marched behind their team banners along a parade route lined with the citizens of Peterborough. Even the policemen controlling the intersections liberally added pink to their uniforms. At the end of the parade participants were treated to a barbecue meal and the opening ceremonies, guest performers, and a fireworks display. The following night we attended a gala dinner for 2000 people, addressed by inspirational speakers including Dr Don McKenzie who started the whole breast cancer survivor dragon boating movement. A dance party followed the meal, for the hardy types who can paddle all day, party all night, and paddle all the next day. Some of us can’t and didn’t.  The Pinkies made many new friends and felt it was such a worthwhile experience.

Pink Ribbon Breakfast

Pink_Ribbon_Breakfast_1.JPGPink Dragon Team Captain Paula, very kindly hosted a pink ribbon breakfast/lunch for Pink Dragon team members and friends. The aim of the event was to raise funds for the Cancer Society by purchasing a ticket and merchandise supplied by them.  Paula came up with some interesting food and drink ideas and it was good to get together with team members again. Paula picked a brilliant day and we relaxed out on her deck in the sunshine catching up whilst eating our nibbles and sipping our pink bubbles! Thank you Paula it was great idea.

 

 

Nationals Lake Hood 2010

freezing_cold_Lake_Hood_1.JPGOn arrival at Ashburton the team all met up for a shared meal on Friday evening, a bit of a chat and a few drinks after travelling down throughout the day on different flights. We started out to Lake Hood early morning, and oh my goodness, it was FREEZING!! We spent the whole day trying to keep warm. Such a shame, as the location was perfect but it was so cold it was difficult to really appreciate it. We shivered our way through the races and kept a determined team spirit going as we paddled to the start line for the Breast Cancer final. Another close race, with Pink Dragons coming in fourth, but will only make us more determined to do better next year! After a very touching Flower Ceremony paddlers from other dragon boat teams honoured the breast cancer teams by performing a Huka for us. Saturday evening’s medal ceremony was followed by lots of partying! Sunday morning NZBCF sponsored a wonderful breakfast at The Lake House overlooking Lake Hood and was a fantastic finish to what had been a great weekend – pity about the weather!

 

Lake Pupuke Regionals 2010

Regionals_2010_1.jpgThe day started with the team arriving early to set up camp with our ‘injured’ gazebo (fatally wounded in a gust of wind at Wenderholm). The weather forecast was hopeful, although rain was expected later in the day. The team were raring to go and we raced with enthusiasm throughout the day. We were nearly rammed by another boat and narrowly avoided what could have been a disastrous and embarrassing drenching! The Breast Cancer final was as usual, a close nail biting finish, with Pink Dragons taking bronze this year. It’s been a tough start to the season for the team with quite a turnover of paddlers but we’re back on track now and ready to rock! It was a proud team that received their medals at the evening ceremony and a great incentive for our newbies.

Wenderholm Super 12 Regatta - 2010

shared_lunch.JPGWhat an amazing venue and what a fun packed day was had by all!  The racing started in the morning with boats paddling out from the shore and racing back in to the beach, with the caller jumping off the boat and sprinting to the finish part way up the beach.  In the afternoon the format changed with a paddler from each team sprinting down the beach and jumping into the boat as the team started to paddle away, racing toward the marker bouy, turning and racing back to the beach with the caller jumping off the boat and again sprinting to the finish.  It proved to be a lot of fun.  There was a long break mid-day with each team bringing a shared lunch, followed by fun and games - sack races, jandal throwing and tug-o-war - pity the rope snapped twice!!  By the end of the day everyone was exhausted but they all had a great day's racing.

Hamilton Super 12 Regatta - 2009

A Rookie's take on their first regatta

Warming_up_with_Franco_1.JPGWell I have done it! My first Dragon Boat Regatta since joining the Pink Dragons a month ago. The regatta was held at Hamilton Lake with our first race scheduled for 9.15 in the open competition. We had a group warm-up and then lined up in pairs in the position that we were to be seated on the boat. It was quite funny as it took us time to realise that left was actually right.  As we were two people short we were very pleased when some paddlers from other teams volunteered to race with us throughout the day.

I have to say that I started feeling very nervous before getting into the boat as from the shoreline it looked like a long course. As it was my first time I had no idea what to expect as up until the regatta I had just been concentrating on perfecting the correct paddling technique, then all of a sudden here I was with a team at the start line and then we were racing! It actually felt like we were hardly moving and then the race was over. The greatest shock of all shocks was that we came second. I was shaking as I left the boat but so very exhilarated and all I could think about was how I could improve in the next race.

Race two, three and four came and went so quickly and then race 5 was announced asking all spectators to support all 5 breast cancer survivor teams and everyone came to the shore line.  It was a great race and we came third. As we all came back to the shore line the boats came together for a minutes silence for those that could not join us. The most amazing thing of all is the respect and admiration that all the fellow competitors show towards the breast cancer survivors. A great day but oh my goodness I had better work on my fitness level.

Rookie - Dianne Hansen

 

Mid Winter Super 12 Fun Regatta 

super__12_fun_regatta.jpgOn Saturday 5th September some of the Pink Dragons team turned out, along with a few friends, for a fun regatta held at West Haven. The weather was definitely on our side with a cloudless blue sky creating a back drop for our wonderful city scape. It was a little chilly to say the least early in the day but we soon got warmed up as we started the racing. 

The day was all about having fun and we certainly did that! With the help of a few novice friends, two husbands, a son-in-law and a couple of paddlers seconded from other teams we managed to do ourselves proud, giving the other teams a run for their money.

Rosie_our_youngest_supporter.jpg

After the racing we all gathered at Swashbucklers restaurant for a well earned drink and fish and chip platters. Everyone had a great day and as you can see our youngest supporter, Rosie, had a great day too!

 

 

2008 - 2009 Season

 

Dragon Boat Talk in Whangerei 

Whangarei_Dragon_Boat_Presentation.jpgOn Monday, June 22, Leonie and Robin travelled to Whangarei to speak about Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boating. Last year, an approach was made to the NZBCDBC seeking guidance on the formation of a BCS team in Northland. Robin collaborated with Sue Baker and Kathy Paterson of the Breast Cancer Support Northland Trust to arrange a meeting of interested people to attend a talk given by Robin and Leonie.

After liaising with Robin, the local Whangarei Leader ran an article ahead of the meeting, which gave some publicity for the event. 15 women attended, and the feedback afterwards was very positive. A woman volunteered to coach the team, and other ideas flowed about sponsorship, and boat storage. The NZDBA has offered the use of one of the old boats and a set of paddles.

With such keenness and support, the formation of a Northland team is looking very promising.

Coach's Corner

Soopu reduced.jpgAt the end of 2008 Dragon boat season, Yvonne, team catain, approached me and wanted to know if I was interested to coach "The Pink Dragons". I had to seriously think about it, because here they are, a team of Breast Cancer Survivors, who have already been through a lot. The question I wanted to know was, “how far can I push them”?

After our first training, it was pretty clear from the girls and the message was loud and clear, “Don't make our trainings easy”, and I didn't.

2009 was a learning curve for me as I got to know the team, and the team got used to my training sessions. I promised them at the beginning of the season, they would get medals; what colour would be up to them. My other goal was to get to know everyone's name by the end of the season!

Thanks to Graeme’s coaching over the years, I didn't have to do much with the girls, just a bit of tweaking here and there, and the use of Fred the sea anchor.

We ended this season on a high with two Silver Medals, and I am so proud of what the girls have achieved in our first year together, and the girls are all looking fit and fantastic and we are all looking forward to 2010, as we have unfinished business to take care of.

Bring it on!!!!

End of Season Party

Elain__a_happy_waitress_reduced.jpgThe crowd of black and pink uniforms and excited chatter was further enlivened by pink ribbons and the clink of silver medals as the Pink Dragons gathered for the last time this season. Our generous sponsor, Hammerheads Restaurant & Bar, hosted by team member Paula Sheahan, provided the nibbles and drinks.

We were honoured to welcome most of our other sponsors – Alan Clarke from Abano, Andy and Sue Stuart from Pink Bins, Tony Jeanes from Koru Media, Sue Waugh who illustrated our two successful fundraising books, Heather Shotter from the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, and Rose Love from our website designer Zeald.Com.

Team support comes in many ways, one of which was to provide Rescue Boat services when the official boat was unavailable. Without these willing partners of team members, we would not have been allowed out on the water for training, so we expressed our appreciation for their help.

Our Coach, Sooupu, was presented with a Coach of The Year certificate, and a gift voucher from Paula to return to Hammerheads with his wife and daughter for a relaxing meal together..

Team captain, Yvonne’s, last duty for the season was to award the Team Member of the Year trophy, to Sally Miller and Sue Heyes.

Ascot Radiology Pink Dragons have had a wonderful six months together and are looking forward to the camaraderie, joy, and hard work of another season after the break.

Nationals at Rotorua

A_funny_moment_at_Blue_Lake_.JPG

Saturday 28th March marked the end of the seasons paddling with the Nationals being held at the Blue Lake Rotorua and what a stunning venue it was! The team assembled in very good spirits on Friday evening with great enthusiasm for the next days racing.

Saturday morning meant an early breakfast for the team before driving to the venue. With a chilly start to the day the weather was pretty kind to us.

Great racing for our team throughout the day meant we had 2nd choice of lanes for the Breast Cancer Final. It was an awesome race but we couldn’t quite pull off first place with Busting with Life pipping us at the post once again for gold, Pink Dragons taking silver and Abreast of Life taking the bronze.

Once the race was over the breast cancer teams rafted up their boats for the flower ceremony and it was one of the most moving we’ve taken part in. The boats gently drifted towards the shore where many of the corporate teams  were lined up alongside supporters. As the boats came to a halt the boys from the crew loading volunteers surprised us with a moving tribute to the breast cancer paddlers with their haka.

The prize giving and After Party was a noisy and happy one with a great deal of celebrating by all. Sunday morning NZBCDBC organised a wonderful breakfast for all the breast cancer teams and a chance to mingle with other paddlers before the end of another great season!

We'll be back next season with only one thing on our minds GOLD!!!

Lake Pupuke

Auckland Regionals - Lake Pupuke - Getting to the start line.jpg

Saturday14th March was the North Shore City Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Pupuke, Takapuna.  The team gathered together to a fine but rather chilly start to the day and as ever, full of enthusiasm for the days racing ahead.  Rain dampened the day for a while but it didn't dampen our spirits! 

The 580 metre course was taken in our stride and the Breast Cancer Final produced one of our closest finishes yet with Busting with Life and a nail biting wait for the final results.  Only a fraction of a second meant Busting took the gold, Pink Dragons the silver and Boobops taking the bronze. 

ROTORUA HERE WE COME!!!!

Tauranga Super 12 Regatta

Saturday 14th February

The team started the weekend off by gathering together on Friday for a great social evening. Lots of fun and a few drinks over a shared dinner kick-started the weekend on a good note. 

Shared_Dinner_1_1.jpgIt was an early start to Saturday in readiness for the races ahead. There was some drizzly rain to start with but thankfully the sky cleared and gave us a brilliant day for racing (unlike last year!). 

  

Our team consisted of 5 rookies, 8 experienced paddlers and 2 team members with broken wrists! Racing went well throughout the day giving us third place in the breast cancer final. The day came to a close with prize giving followed by a much needed rest before heading off for a team meal at a local restaurant. We’re all looking forward now to the next regatta in Auckland!


Book Sales

milford_book_sales_1.JPGNovember 2008 saw the launch of our book 'Percy the Pink Dragon Boat' Sales have gone incredibly well so far and the feed back from people has been very positive.

To kick start the sales and to take advantage of Christmas we spent four days at Milford Shopping Centre with team members manning a stall.  It was great talking to people about Pink Dragons and what the team is all about.  We're definitely on track to make much needed funds for both the team and Kenzie's Gift through the sale of the books.

Christmas BBQ

team_bbq_1.JPGTo celebrate the end of 2008 some of the team and their partners got together for a BBQ hosted by one of our rookies. The location was fantastic as was the weather. Everybody helped out providing the food and drink making for a wonderful spread. 

After lunch some of us relaxed while others burnt off a few calories exploring the grounds and taking in some of the bush walks surrounding the house. It was a great opportunity to get together off the water and have fun and to get to know some of the Rookies a little better. Thanks to Lisa for the opportunity it couldn’t have been a better end to 2008 training!

Hamilton Super 12 Regatta - 2008

Leaving_the_beach_Super_12_Hamilton_08.jpg

 November 29th saw the first regatta for the season the Hamilton super 12. Hamilton provided it’s best possible weather for the day and what a day we had! Most of our Rookies came along to sample first hand what it’s like to paddle under race conditions. The feed back from them was that it was ‘awesome’.   We raced throughout the day along side both corporate and breast cancer teams and as usual there was great support shown for all the breast cancer teams.

A minutes silence was held before the Breast cancer final in remembrance of all those who had lost their lives to the disease. In the final Boobops took first place closely followed by Busting with Life with Pink Dragons taking third . Altogether it was a very successful day and we look forward to the 2009 regattas.
 

2007/2008 Season wrap-up

 

From Tracey Richardson - Rookie Paddler

Tracey.jpg

The 2007/2008 dragon boating season was one of improvement and friendship for the Pink Dragons. I was one of five rookies to join the team at the beginning of the season and was blown away by the warmth and support from the existing team members.

 

We started the season out with the Tiger Beer Regatta in Auckland in February with five of us getting a taste for the competitive element of the sport. We then braved the wind and rain at the Tauranga Super 12 competition in March and made a fun-weekend of it with team-building activities and the joys of road trips and shared accommodation.

We were thrilled with our performance at the Nationals in Auckland in March and felt the improvement we made throughout the season was due to hard work and good leadership.

Paddler of teh year.jpg

Tric , Graeme, Yvonne (our on- the-land trainer), Lynn (Paddler of the Year) and Robin (Team Leader)

We bid farewell to our coach Graeme Rountree and team original Tric Nelson who are off to the Mainland and awarded Lynn Simons with our ‘Paddler of the Year’ award.

 

Off the water, we took part in the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and lots of fundraising walks/runs which improved our personal fitness and team camaraderie. Motivating, fun and supportive!

 

To all the breast cancer survivors reading this article who may be thinking about the possibility of joining a breast cancer dragon boating team – my response would be GO FOR IT!!

There are teams all around the country, with new ones being formed every year. It’s fun, good for you and you’ll meet some great personalities!! On the water trainings at Westhaven on a summer’s morning are magic. It’s open to all ages, body shapes and sizes and fitness levels, it’s inclusive and all about celebrating life, we deserve it!

So what’s in store for the Pink Dragons in 2008/2009? We are excited to be welcoming a new coach; our Team Captain Yvonne Dunn has fitness schedules typed up and ready to go. Currently we’re hibernating but building up for the upcoming season…. anything is possible!!

If you’d like to become a member of the Pink Dragon’s Dragon Boating Team in Auckland please contact Robyn Gamble Ph 630 6423

Tauranga Super 12 Regatta - 2008

It was fabulous fun and we rookies loved it. Thanks to Robin for organizing it and thanks to Janet for feeding us and thanks to Tric and Elaine for leading us . The weather was awful, but we were all keen as mustard to get out there.

My room mate was so enthusiastic about the regatta that she got up at 3.45am and was trotting off to the shower thinking it was 6am.

We raced hard, enjoyed our mixing and mingling of positions in the boat (care of Graeme) and were THRILLED to get second in the Breast Cancer final.

Yes, there were some celebratory drinks consumed and Coyote’s bar was rocking for the prize giving on Saturday afternoon. Some of us (no names) hadn’t eaten much, so the alcohol content of each drink was somewhat increased…. We were given towels instead of silver medals… interesting….. One party animal team mate crashed and burned at 7.30pm and was walked back to the hostel before she’d even eaten.

Tauranga.jpg

One picture says it all

Meanwhile back at the restaurant, the team was posing for a photo and one team mate decided she wanted her good side to be photographed. She climbed over the pedestal table and it flipped, yes, broken glass, red wine up the walls, salt and pepper everywhere… yee haa!!! Another team mate got a phone call on her mobile and was walking outside to take the call when she decided to be John Travolta and do the disco splits on the floor of the restaurant. The rest of the night was uneventful with a lovely meal consumed and cups of tea drank back at the hostel.

We were rudely awoken at 6.50am the next morning by the wailing fire alarm and all got to check out each others night attire (and the other backpackers) as we stood outside for 15 minutes while the firemen ‘cleared’ the building…..

Did the above involve any of the rookies…..? maybe…… was there mention of a ‘rookie contract and approval process’ being written up…. perhaps……. Did I steal Sue team shirt…. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

 

2006/2007 season

 

By Robin Gamble – our Team Leader

2006_2007.jpg

Up and racing against Breast Cancer Teams - Tiger Beer Regatta Auckland

We are the second breast cancer dragon boating team in Auckland, and the sixth team in New Zealand. We began as a mixed team in 2005 with the help of a number of non-breast cancer survivor paddlers, but became 100% breast cancer survivors for the 2006-07 season.

 

We participated in a fun festival at Takapuna Beach, and competed in the Tauranga Super 12’s, but it was at the Auckland Festival and the Nationals in Christchurch where we rewarded our coach and ourselves by achieving our best times yet.

We also found travelling together as a team a great bonding experience. We had so much fun, and ended the paddling season on a high note.

 

We suffered some withdrawal pangs once our regular contact with each other was put on hold, but we heeded coach Graeme's advice that, for the success of the team, we really needed to take a break over winter.

 

Our mission is to show our fellow breast cancer survivors that life is for living! After being swept along in the process of diagnosis, surgery, treatment, medication and supervision, we could feel rather helpless. Participation in this physically demanding sport has been empowering. We have benefitted from learning new skills, improving our fitness, feeling positive, and being part of a wonderful support group working together to achieve a goal.

  

Coaches Corner

This season I have seen a group of paddlers grow into a team of paddlers. A team that now knows how to paddle as one unit to the best of their ability.

The Tauranga Super 12 regatta was a good warm up and it is fair to say that it showed off a number of our weaknesses. It was however a good team bonding exercise and invaluable to get to where we are now.

 

At the Auckland regatta our paddling was much improved at times although we were still looking for consistency. Then there was the final and something clicked in the team and we paddled a near perfect race. We also picked up our first ever placing in a regatta with a well-deserved 3rd betting Treasure Chests by a massive 0.62 seconds.

 

The following weekend it was down to the nationals in Christchurch.

My main concern in the lead up to this regatta was again consistency.

Race 1,

I asked for a good steady paddle and got it along with a reasonable time.

Race 2, 3, 4 & 5,

Same as above however by race 3 I was now aware that the group of paddlers that made up the team were now a team of paddlers and that nothing was going to stand in their way of pushing hard and achieving the best they could.

 

There was however nothing else we could have given or done on the day but the team deserve to hold their heads high, stand tall and be very proud of what we have accomplished this year.

 

Yes a 4th at the nationals can be a hard pill to swallow however there was nothing else we could have done to improve on this on the day. Graeme Roundtree

  

By an anonymous Rookie

The paddling idea was introduced soon after the completion of my treatment and it required some consideration. Surely the healthiest thing to do at this point in my life was to move on and not link up with a ‘breast cancer’ group. However the lure of getting into some regular activity again, saw me turn up at Okahu Bay one Sunday afternoon. I was introduced to Jane, Beth and Maggie – or was that Mary, Sue and Lola and they all had their ‘pink caps’ - hmmmm! This (youngish) guy who introduced himself as the coach was so enthusiastic and I couldn’t for the life of me fathom why he would want to work with a matured group of woman. But he did seem to make some sense when talking about ‘core strength’ (couldn’t wait to see his 6-pack once he shed his winter layers of clothes!!). So there it started and I diligently did my exercises for 2 days!

 

rookie.jpg

First time paddling for a couple of Rookies

First paddle! Nervously turned up on time, more new faces and we were lined up and randomly placed in the boat. Slight sense of excitement whilst observing the Piha boat crew along side us. Right from the word go we had the ‘timing and technique’ message explained, said again, reiterated and repeated – for mature people, it struck me that we were very slow learners. The good thing is that I did really enjoy the first experience and knew I would be back for more – even after shivering away after practice while the coach regurgitated ‘that’ message. And no, I didn’t remember the name of the woman I was sitting next to. (That was me Sue)

 

First Regatta! Takapuna loomed before I even felt we were out of nappies. Three words to describe that day. Wet, intimidating, frustrating. But we PD’s stuck together and there was a sense of some team bonding happening AND I got a pink cap. So nice to get back to training on the Tuesday night afterwards with all the familiar faces.

 

First Real Regatta! Auckland. Now this was really nervous energy stuff. The first race was awesome and so good to get out of the way. According to Graham we were OK. I don’t think OK stacks up in any of our books and we really wanted to prove to ourselves (and the other breast cancer teams) that we are a force to be reckoned with. The first breast cancer race came and went and the entrenched timing and technique was evidently not on our boat for that one - photos prove we were not within kuwee of the other three teams. Gutted! (I was quietly confident that we would ‘kick ass’!)

 

To add insult to injury, I experienced my first flower ceremony. WOW! I don’t think ‘How Great Thou Art’ was the best choice of words to paddle down the viaduct with but, AJ, how great thou art for standing up and speaking so well on our behalf. It was so amazing to be a part of this and having my family there to share the occasion was incredibly special. The final was very uplifting (always welcome when you’re talking breasts, especially ours) and was proof that we were past the crawling and able to stand on our own feet and ‘mix it’ with the other bc teams. A triumph for Pink Dragons.

 

First Nationals! Christchurch. Visualise this. Sitting in a boat on a lake which is as still as a mill-pond, absolute blue skies above and dragon flies flitting around beside you. Despite the criteria to be eligible to sit in that boat with 19 other amazing women and a coach who can be a bit gruff on the out-side but has a pretty big heart (and a 6-pack somewhere), you can’t help but think ‘Life is Good’. Sunday was a great day, really good for us as a team and I look forward to more days of that nature – but with some more metal and / wood to show for our efforts now that we are ready to run with it. I believe I now know everyone’s name and I wear my pink cap with pride. everyone, you’re t’rific.

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Racing in Christchurch at the Nationals

 

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Team gathering in Christchurch prior to the Nationals

 

 

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER”

 

Robin’s Dragon Boating in Canada

 

In July of this year I visited Victoria, BC Canada, to spend time with my daughter, her fiance, and my extended family. When making my plans I noticed the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival coincided with my dates, so happily marked the event in my diary, intending to enjoy a great couple of days of entertainment.

 

As an afterthought, I contacted the local breast cancer survivor team, The Island Breaststrokers, to ask if I might meet some of them, and watch their training from the shore, promising to cheer them on on the day. My contact turned out to be the most charming, friendly and hospitable woman who became my “buddy”, Clare. “Don’t just stand and watch”, said Clare. “We often have a spare seat on the boat. Come paddle with us”.

 

Well, you know, one thing leads to another…

 

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Robin second paddler from right enjoying the Gorge Festival on board with the Island Breaststrokers

 

I attended two training sessions with the Island Breaststrokers, and managed to keep up with their powerful paddlers, which was a great relief, as I had been in hibernation from dragon boating in New Zealand for several months, since our own season finished at the end of March. After the second training session, I was asked “So what are you doing on Saturday?” Unknown to me, an annual One Day festival is held at The Gorge (a waterway which forms part of Victoria Harbour), one week before the 2 day festival I planned to attend, and my “New Best Friends” were a paddler short. The diary was consulted, a few plans were changed, and I presented myself for duty at the appointed hour. “No pressure”, but I learned The Island Breaststrokers were the world champions in the Breast Cancer Division at Singapore in 2006! We easily beat the other 5 breast cancer teams to win MY FIRST GOLD MEDAL. With that race under our belts, we then competed in the Women’s Open Division and picked up a bronze medal. I was delivered home, damp, but on a high, having assisted the IBS team to their fastest time, ever, in a Breast Cancer Survivors Grand Final. The home-coming Olympic athletes at Auckland airport weren’t the only people with a bunch of medals clanking around their necks!

 

The following weekend, the IBS expected to muster a full crew, but had suggested I ask the festival organisers to find me another team to paddle with. Thus, chameleon-like, I dressed in the colours of The Pink Piston Paddlers from Salmon Arm, BC, and acquired another set of New Best Friends. Again, I was impressed by their friendliness and their genuine interest in a visitor from New Zealand. I picture a bridge between NZ and Canada, across which Kiwis and Canucks cross easily into each other’s countries, finding kindred spirits in both places. It seems every Canadian I meet has either been to NZ, has had a life-long dream to visit, or knows someone living in NZ. I was the happy recipient of souvenir t shirts, team pins, photos of my new teams, and a beautiful medal given to every breast cancer paddler, sponsored by the BC Cancer Foundation of Vancouver Island.

 

The summer weather was brilliantly fine, the atmosphere of the Festival venue was electric, with the crowds of competitors and spectators milling amongst the tents of vendors and the stages of the entertainers. We did our Warm Ups to music, and were all marshalled for our races in a most methodical way.

 

The Pink Piston Paddlers made up for their lack of experience (being a team of only 3 seasons) by being colourful, not only in their peacock blue and orange dragon emblazoned shirts, but by their humour and penchant for bursting into song or chant at the drop of a hat. Quite the entertainers. We didn’t win any medals, but we enjoyed our races, giving our best efforts to finish a creditable fourth in the Breast Cancer Grand Final.

 

The night before the Victoria Festival, all the breast cancer teams were hosted to a lovely meal organised by the Island Breaststrokers. There were raffles, skits and dancing, along with a “trade table”. Raising funds is a universal goal for all teams, and I made a few mental notes of ideas I could bring home to the Pink Dragons.

 

Oh, and I also had a marvellous visit with my family!

 

http://www.islandbreaststrokers.com/

 

http://www.pinkpistonpaddlers.ca/

Kai Iwi Lakes - Feb 2015

(By Liz Butcher)

The Kai Iwi Lakes Dragon Camp continues to be a popular and welcome event on the dragon boat calendar. This year five Pinkies went north to set up camp on the Friday night, get up early the next day for the dawn paddle - 4k round trip across the lake - then back for a camp breakfast before facing the day's challenges.

A lot of planning went into the training sessions to be held. All levels of experience were catered for and participants could choose where to be to make the most of the opportunity to learn from other coaches and paddlers alike.

The weather was great and some of us took it more easy than others. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and supportive. Helen, as a first timer, had a great time attending every workshop she could.

Concurrent with the classes were time trials - this is where two people go out on a 20 seater boat, one paddles and and the other helps balance the boat. A sweep is in place with a paddle to assist steering but not adding to the progress. The distance covered is 200m. The time taken is measured and a complicated equation involving your vital statistics (weight and age) determines the result. This provides a benchmark to where a paddler is at and what they may need to improve upon. There is also a particular technique for effective paddling in a time trial. As with all things some are better than others which was proved very conclusively with Robin taking the honours over the rest of us.

After the lessons comes play time where teams are made up for races. It is great fun to participate or watch. Lot's of serious energy is burned as everyone paddles their heart out. Dragon boating is always the winner on the day!

After dinner we all gather again for the entertainment. Teams are asked to perform a skit or song or tell a story. These are so very excellent and worth the trip. There is a lot of talent in the dragon boat crowd - both on and off the water. It is a pleasure to share that special time together. Then all too soon the party is over and the sun comes up and we all head back to our homes.

 

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Jan 2015

(Liz Butcher)

This regatta continues to grow with a record number of teams taking part. The course was the same as past years but the on-land set up provided a closer view for all of us with the gazebos placed near the action at the viaduct as well as the inclusion of a public stand.

The day was perfect for races and spectators alike with an overcast morning turning into a hot day. Spectators gathered throughout the day, eager to watch the racing!

As with previous years we were racing in the 10’s boats kitted out with dragon head and tails, drums and callers. This year our full team turned out which meant we entered two boats - Pinkies Rock and Pinkies Roll. Having two teams soon turned us to rivals on the water as we fought our way through the heats. In the finals we fiercely battled to the finish with the added dimension of the battle of the sweeps (Lion's Sooupu and Ricky). The close result augurs well for a successful season.

 

Tauranga Super 12s Regatta – 29 November 2014

(by Chris Johnson)

P1040564 (640x440)-312   (photo: Trish; Helen; Cat)

This year we were lucky to have our three new paddlers taking part, for all of them it was their first participation in a breast cancer final and a Flower Ceremony.  Here are their thoughts on their experiences.

CAT: It was so exciting to be in a race with only women...no male brute strength to compete against!  Also very poignant that all of us in the race had faced the cancer battle -but survived!!!  We came in a respectable second - yay! - but the elation of the race was short lived and we were soon very somber for the rose ceremony. The ceremony was quite sad, especially as the song that was played seemed very dark and dreary, but the sentiment was not lost as we waved our roses in the air, shed a few tears and felt thankful that we were thereto compete.  I love being part of this team and hope I can still be competing in 10 years, teaching new paddlers who are in the same position that I am currently in - a newby!!
HELEN: The time was right for me to get back into a competitive sport after years just managing others. The knees don't work as well and so when I met Lyn and Sue at the Boatshow a new opportunity presented itself in Dragon boating. The first few "newby" trainings had me hooked and soon I was regularly turning up to learn correct paddling techniques (still working on that one!! Bear with me Sooupu) and trying to get paddling fit (I think this is coming).

I remember wondering after the first two trainings how I would ever be able to paddle long enough to last one race let alone a whole regatta.  Everyone was very encouraging and with three newbies starting out together new bonds were formed.  I really felt I had joined a new sisterhood and we shared a common bond that made us a wee bit special. Having unfortunately missed the Hamilton regatta due to my rugby 7's involvement I was very keen to participate in the Tauranga Super 12's.  Chris and Anete took me under their wing and off we went.  I was quietly nervous, never having competed in anything like that before.  The first race my butterflies were humming and all technique went out the window.  I'm pretty sure I forgot to breathe from start to finish, it was a frenetic pace and I wondered how I could do that for 3 more races?  After a break and some inner composure we were out again and this time I remembered to breathe, keep my head up and felt much more part of the team. I survived all races intact with encouragement and nurture from my new Sisters.

It was a fun experience, paddling in all the weather Tauranga could throw at us, wind, rain, hot sun - but that’s what its all about. The rose ceremony was truly touching and very humbling. It is a beautiful interlude reconnecting us to those paddling angels and bringing the sisterhood closer with the common bond we share. We are Special!

TRISH: Churning tummy, hard to take on board that I'm paddling my 1st BC race after 3 practices!   Part of a very special team - a shared bond.  So nervous at the start, elated at the finish, I did it!The Rose Ceremony was very emotional, mixed feelings, tears of remembrance and happiness! Thoughts of absent friends and the many people who saw me through the tough times.  A beautiful way to begin new friendships :)


 

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Hamilton Super 12 – November 2014

(by Liz Butcher)

The first regatta of the new season promised rain and it delivered, but not straight away. Hamilton was an opportunity to try out our new paddling style. It was good experience to apply our learning in a race environment. Despite the impact on the days event with both wind and heavy rain, it was a great day out and enjoyed by all.

 





 

Robin with AwardLife Member Robin !

The Pink Dragons came to an end of era recently when long standing Team Manager, Robin Gamble, decided to step down from the role and relax for the next few years as “just a paddler”.
 
Robin joined the Pink dragons at its inception in 2005 and has given huge amounts of her time and energy to both the team and the sport of Dragon Boating in Auckland ever since. Not only has Robin been one of the most consistent team members but she has also served her time with positions on the committee for Auckland Dragon boat and, if anything needed to be done for the team or the association, Robin is always there to lend a hand.
 
The Pink Dragons have acknowledged Robin’s contribution to the team by awarding her Life Membership of Pink Dragons and look forward to paddling with her for many years to come.

 



Gulf Harbour Dragon Fest Super 10’s 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

Gulf HarbourFor the second year running Pink Dragons joined with other teams to take part in a regatta at the wonderful venue of Hobbs Wharf, Gulf Harbour.  This year it had a dragon theme, an ideal opportunity for us as Pink Dragons to get inventive as dressing up was the order of the day!  Surprise, surprise Pink Dragons became ‘pink dragons’ with their pink onesies transformed into dragons with a little addition.

The team gathered together, fingers crossed for the sun gods to shine throughout the day, and prepared for the racing.  Teams were mixed and the emphasis was on having fun.  The team slipped away before our first race and transformed into ‘pink dragons’.  It was quite a surprise to the other teams as we loaded our boat and set off for our first race! 

There were several heats of short sprints, a final and a mixed turns race concluded the days racing.  Although Pinkies were unsuccessful in their racing, they gave it their best.  However in the dress-up department they were a winning team and we duly collected a prize for best dressed team.

All in all it was a successful day, it didn’t rain too much, the racing was great and everyone had fun what more could a team want?

 

ADBA Awards 2014

photo(copy)At the recent Auckland Dragon Boat Association’s End of Season Award Night, Pink Dragons received an award for “2014 Most Improved Team “.  Congratulations to all members of the team for all the effort  put in over the season . The question is, can we improve even more over the next season? 

 

 



Pink Ribbon Breakfast


Pink Ribbon Breakfast(copy)More than 20 friends, family and Pink Dragons gathered on a Sunday afternoon to attend and help support  the Pink Ribbon Breakfast appeal.  In this case it was more of an afternoon tea with an appetizing spread of yummy sweet and savoury food being provided.

A host of raffle prizes were on offer and tickets sales helped to boost the final total.  Also on offer for a small donation was a choice of beauty procedures and the offer was taken up by a number of ladies.

There was a great choice of drinks offered also from pink bubbles to flat whites so something for everyone.  A good time was had by all and just as important we raised a huge total of $550 for NZBCF.  Well done all you lovely ladies!

 

To The Glory of Dragonboating

(By Andrea Partington)

andrea1(copy)Five years ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer after finding a lump in my left breast.
As I progressed through my ordeal I was given booklets, leaflets and a whole raft of information to help me deal with my diagnosis before, during and after treatment. Amongst this myriad of information was a flyer for 'The Pink Dragons' a female Breast Cancer Dragon Boating team that caught my eye.  I remember ringing one of the team members and being told that once I had finished my treatment and was declared medically fit to paddle I should get back in touch with her.

However as the year wore on and I got busy with living life again the idea faded from memory until one day I received a phone call asking if I was still keen and if so there was an upcoming 'Give it a go' day down at the Westhaven Marina which I was invited to attend.  Now I consider myself to be reasonably fit (even for my advanced age) having been a long distance runner for about the last twenty odd years but that first year of paddling coupled with trying to buy a house at the same time was incredibly stressful and I nearly gave it away.

Sitting in a boat full of 20 strong minded female Breast Cancer Survivors all of whom have different opinions and are not afraid to tell you how paddling is meant to be done is quite daunting and in the beginning, quite confusing. Not only did I have to contend with being told off constantly, I also discovered to my horror that I was ‘Rhythmically challenged’ and as a result I often committed the cardinal sin of hitting other people’s paddles, not to mention the side of the boat and disrupting the timing of the team! However I persevered, learnt to accept the feedback gracefully and gradually I have improved.

Dragon boating both in the Cancer and non-Cancer divisions is fiercely competitive and regattas are a regular occurrence on the sporting calendar. As a team we have travelled to Australia to compete in the Breast Cancer division. We also compete in this division within New Zealand the highlight of which being the National Championships alternating each year between North and South Island venues. These trips (once the business of hard out paddling is completed) have been fun with lots of laughter. Medals have been won including last year, the coveted gold at the Nationals in Rotorua for the 200m.
 
Now after four seasons I have become a ‘Polar Bear’ (winter paddler, the name describes it aptly). This is not to everyone’s liking as it consists of training in all kind of weather as part of a mixed team made up of other likeminded fools from the many teams within the Auckland Dragon Boat Association. Recently one of these afore mentioned fools (not me honest!) thought that it would be a good idea to paddle the 22 kilometres from Westhaven marina to the historic Riverhead tavern. This is no mean feat when you consider a typical race is held over distances of between 200 and 500 metres and that ‘endurance races’ are no more than 2 kilometres in length! Our training for this has seen us going around (and around) a circuit commencing at Westhaven, down to the Viaduct, then out under the harbour bridge to Watchman’s island and back again. If the sea is choppy not only is it good resistance training but there is also at no extra cost the thought that we could capsize at any moment which serves to keep everyone working as a team to avoid this from happening!

After several false starts due to bad weather we finally got the go ahead for Sunday 20th October. Loaded into two of the smaller class of Dragon boats (10 seater) we departed in glorious conditions at 07:00 heading out into the wide expanse of a becalmed Waitemata harbour. Our route taking us out under the bridge, across to Kauri point, past the ferry terminal at Hobsonville point and then on towards Herald island. From here we entered the Rangitopuni creek, which would take us to our final destination of Riverhead.
Rounding the final bend, our goal, the Riverhead tavern came into view and we doubled our efforts for one final push. As we approached the jetty a cry went up from one of the two safety boats that were accompanying us “Keep going, don’t stop we’ve only done 19.6 kilometres!” It turns out a final check of the GPS had revealed that initial calculations of the distance to be covered were out by 2.4 kilometres and seeing how we had set out on a journey that we believed was 22 kilometres then by golly 22 kilometres it was going to be! (Besides we already had the Tee shirts with 22 kilometres printed on them!) Paddling back down stream for 1.2 kilometres we then turned and headed once more for the finish line.

We had done it! It had only taken us about 2 hours and 36 minutes. All that hard work and effort had paid off. With very sore bottoms we all headed to our reserved tables and over brunch it was decided that this was going to be an annual event and there was even some talk of doing it as a 44 kilometre return trip next time!

Overall, a good time, was had by all and a new New Zealand record was set for this class of Dragon boat.

Lake Hood -Nationals 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

Nationals 2014(copy)A few days out from Nationals the big question was “What would the weather be like”.  Having faced the brunt of a very cold and wet experience before at Lake Hood, we studied the weather forecasts with hopeful expectations for a good day. 

On Friday the majority of the team flew to Christchurch together arriving at our motel late afternoon.  After settling in we all took off for an evening meal  and then an early night followed by an early start and a big day ahead! Unfortunately day break didn’t fill us with much optimism for the warm sun-filled day we had hoped for, as the grey skies obscured the morning sun making for a bit of a chilly start to the racing.  However, the conditions were very calm with little or no wind and the sun did manage to break through mid afternoon and was gratefully received.

Racing soon got underway with the 200m races and we completed two heats before our BC final took place.  We put heart and soul into our final and were placed 3rd behind Cansurvive and Boobops.  Some of the team were beginning to feel the cold by this time and hot water bottles, blankets, hats, gloves and anything else that might warm the body became favoured attire back in the tent.

Two more heats were completed for the 500m and then the all-important BC final closely followed by the flower ceremony.  Once again the whole team put in 100% plus, but sadly we were unable to gain a better place against Cansurvive (1st)  and Boobop (2nd), placing us 3rd again  .  All teams rafted up following the race and as we joined together,  friends, family and other teams gathered on the shore.  All four boats locked together as one, focussing our thoughts on our paddling angels.  A haka was performed as the boats drifted slowly towards the shore and a guard of honour formed as the teams alighted from the boats and were high-fived through.

Now it was time to focus on the next race, the 2K, a favourite with the Pinkies.  We were the first boat to set off.  With the excellent skills of our sweep, Annmarie and the enthusiasm of our caller Elaine, we had a great race which, as we found out later at the prize giving, gave us yet another 3rd and a matching set of bronze medals. 

Some of us danced the night away following prize giving while others, exhausted by the day’s efforts, retired in the hope of rejuvenating themselves for another early start to attend the Breast Cancer Breakfast hosted by the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.  Many thanks to NZBCF for another fantastic breakfast; it was very much appreciated by all the BC teams.

All that was left now was to return home triumphant with our medals clinking around our necks enhancing our uniforms, but also a little sad as this marked the end of another paddling season.   With winter training and monthly regattas on the horizon keeping fit through the winter months would still be an option. Pinkies will return next season with renewed enthusiasm and GOLD will be back at the top of our to-do list!!

 

Regionals 2014 - Lake Pupuke

(By Sue Munro)

Ready to go  2 When I first joined the Pink Dragons in December 2013, I was under the impression that it was all about friendship, keeping healthy and strong. Well Regionals certainly were a surprise, this was serious racing and winning a medal was important to the team.
 
Regionals at Lake Pupuke dawned a perfect day. The Auckland Dragon Boating community had worked very hard to set up the area with lanes for racing and pontoons for loading.
 
Our first two races, the 500m heats were all about getting the start right, which we did. We also had a great start in the Breast Cancer 500m final and powered hard to the finish, just trailing behind Boobops who won gold and Cansurvive silver. This put us in the bronze position, and my first medal!
 
The Rose Ceremony was a truly moving experience. All four breast cancer teams remained on the water, rafted up together and following a tribute to friends and family who have helped on our journeys of treatment and recovery, we had a minutes silence to remember the paddlers we have lost. As we paddled back to the pontoons a haka welcomed us ashore and on the hill behind a guard of honour of fellow paddlers formed which we all walked through. Wow, what an honour.
 
The 200m sprint heats were again time to ensure we had “eyes in the boat”, we listened to the starter, 100% ready for the “attention “call. Following a hard power to the finish we were rewarded in the 200m final with a bronze medal, much to our delight.
 
Our final race, the 2K, was a rolling start at 15 second intervals; this gave us a target to chase. As we crossed the finish line we were exhausted as we had given it everything and so it was with great pride we accepted our silver medals that evening.
 
Many thanks to Auckland Dragon Boating, our coach Sooupu and my fellow paddlers for such a memorable day, I’m  loving this sport, bring on Nationals!

Kai Iwi Lakes - 2014

(By Anna Southern)

Kai Iwi 002(copy)The weather was dubious as Lynn and I left Auckland on a bleak Friday afternoon, and we drove north through torrential downpours.  However by the time we arrived at Kai Iwi Lakes, we were welcomed with clear skies and the optimism of a fine weekend. This was my first year at Kai Iwi lakes for the dragon boat training weekend and I was looking forward to not only learning some new skills but enjoying the company of my fellow paddlers beyond the water.  We quickly located our fellow Pinkies already set up in their weekend homes and relaxing as they gazed across the glorious outlook of the lakes. Following time honoured traditions of NZ camping, the tent was quickly erected, gear packed away ready to participate fully in the weekend. The twilight paddle came and went during this time, but I knew there was going to be plenty of opportunity for paddling the next day. For those that did partake it was a glorious way to herald the sun’s departure.

Saturday commenced with the bustle of paddlers readying  for the dawn paddle across to the other side of the lake.  It was a  great way to start the day, paddling with others with those first inspiring sun rays rising over the horizon. 
 
Training session followed after breakfast. As I had joined the Pinkies at the end of last season I decided to start with beginnings group.  The wonderful Alisha did one on one with everyone, and then we proceeded out on the water and were given the opportunity as pairs to stroke until we couldn’t stroke anymore and then some…but still keep the technique correct.  Everyone became competitive to do more strokes than those proceeding so it was some time before we returned to shore. While there was a bit of standing around I had some great discussions with experienced paddlers helping us that were really useful for me.
 
The thing I really liked about the camp is that it was relaxed.  Anyone could join in when and with what they wanted.  A second training came and went for those paddlers whose earlier training session had been shorter. The afternoon provided lots of hilarity with the Les Mans racing.  With four mixed boats – gender, experience and ability and racing that included intermittent back paddling and boat reverse paddling,  the paddlers were put through their paces while those watching on shore were highly entertained.
 
Following the water challenges, land challenges were planned.  The drinking race was stopped mid way with the opening of the heavens and everyone rushing for shelter.  Our good weather had lasted for most of the day, but our social activities looked like they may be curtailed.  Not to be outdone by the weather, gazebo’s were marched across camp to create a big party area, from which everyone watched the evening entertainment of the team talent quest.  The Pink Dragons had come semi prepared and did an excellent rendition of “Show me the way to go home”, even securing a prize. The day ended with dancing for those still with energy left from the day.
 
Our highly anticipated Sunday brunch following a morning swim was reluctantly cancelled due to inclement weather returning and the need to get tents into cars as dry as possible.  However, a stop at Blah Blah Blah café in Dargarville provided a nice conclusion to the weekend before the drive back to Auckland
 
I really enjoyed getting out of Auckland for the weekend with some fun people, doing a bit of dragon boating, learning a few new skills, enjoying great company, being outrageous – it was casual, relaxed, fun and friendly.  I’ll be returning next year.

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Jan 2014

(By Chris Johnson)

pinkies(copy)It was early morning as the teams started gathering at the viaduct to set up gazebos on the site of the new ‘urban beach’ for yet another great days racing.  This year saw more teams than previous years take part, 32 in all, in what is fast becoming a very popular annual event.

The day was perfect for paddlers, friends and supporters and with the Seafood Festival in full swing, crowds of spectators gathered throughout the day, eager to watch the racing!

We were racing in the 10’s boats kitted out with dragon head and tails, drums and callers, always a wonderful sight to see the boats dressed up for the occasion.  Pinkies did well in their heats and managed an overall time that put us into the second final.   Support from friends, family and other teams members gave us heaps of encouragement (always appreciated by the Pinkies!) as we approached the finish line.

Finals completed, another successful Anniversary Day Regatta was done and dusted, our thoughts now turning to our next calendar event, Kia Iwi Boat Camp.

Tauranga Super 12 – 2013

(By Chris Johnson)


Tauranga 2013Boobops managed to pull this special regatta off yet again, not only was it smoothly run, great weather but they also won the BC final again too!  Pinkies gathered together Friday evening prepared for rain or shine and were pleasantly surprised to wake up to clear skies in the morning.A  ll BC teams were welcomed with a magnificent gift basket courtesy of Boobops filled with all kind of goodies to eat.

Our first race of the day was our fastest with a total of five short sprints including a BC final.  We had a good BC race and took 2nd place to Boobops.  After the race the teams rafted together for the flower ceremony with the most amazing smelling roses supplied by a Boobops team member from her own garden.  The music accompanying the ceremony was quite a departure from the norm with an adaptation of a Katy Perry song – ‘Roar’ performed live.

Great hosts gave us all a most enjoyable days racing so thank you once again to Boobops!

 

Hamilton Super 12 – November 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

Hamilton 2013This was the first regatta of the new season and a chance to see how the team were coming together on the water.  It was an early start to the day for team members carpooling to Hamilton but the promise of good paddling weather made the trip all worthwhile. 
 
This was a gentle start to racing as all 5 races were short sprints on the lake, no 2km for us today!  We were pleased with out efforts throughout the day and especially the BC final.  It was a very close call between Boobops and Pinkies.  We rafted up after the race for another very moving Flower Ceremony. The result of the race was announced at the prize giving with just a fraction of a second between us giving Pinkies 2nd place and Boobops 1st.  Tremendous paddling team, keep it up for Tauranga!

Tutukaka Super 12 - 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

photo (48) (240x157)The recently formed dragon boat club at Tutukaka organised their first regatta and invited teams from Auckland to join them for a day of racing and fun on their delightful harbour.  Pink Dragons formed a Super 12 team and joined them for the day along with several other Auckland teams.

Luckily the weather was favourable although a little choppy out on the water.  This led to a few heart raising moments as the old boats rocked dangerously close to capsizing a few times!
 
It was a bit of a mix and match day with the emphasis on fun.  The day started with new paddlers being given a quick induction on the shore on how to paddle and then off into the boats to join more experienced paddlers to have a go. 
 
There were two sprint races followed by a final. Further heats were called off due to the worsening conditions.  The last race was mixed teams made up from anyone who wanted to paddle one more race.  With the risk of capsize very clearly in our minds, some of us decided to quit while we were still reasonably dry!
 
The day was a great success, lots of fun and a great venue; hopefully this will become a regular event on the Auckland dragon boat calendar from now on.

 

Super 10's 28th July 2013

(By Liz Butcher)

IMGL7286 (800x574) (640x459) (230x165)A very pleasant winter day saw the Pink Dragons gather for the winter 10’s racing for July.
There were eight teams at the regatta, including a Paddle Waikato contingent, from whom we managed to borrow a BC paddler. Several 200m races each.
We were a subdued team as we remembered Karen, who so recently became our 3rd Paddling Angel.
We performed all right in the 200m races considering many of us have been on winter break. We felt ok and know we have something to build on.

We were privileged to share a rose ceremony with the Busting with Life Team on the water while a guard of honour formed onshore as we all paid our respects. The flowers were a mixture of blooms from Karen’s hospital room and blooms that had been selected to travel with her to her final resting place in Scotland. The flowers weren’t able to go after all so we released them on her behalf.

The final race of the day was a short 2km. How short? A welcome 1km short. We still did our turns, but not the tortuous course this race has been designed around in the past. At prize giving we were announced 5th! Wow, we were better than we realized….but our self-congratulations faded sheepishly when the results list was found to be faulty.  It was our main opposition who achieved 5th, and we were relegated to 8th. Mostly it was just nice being together, paddling in calm conditions for a change, in St Mary's Bay. A healing day for many of us.

Mothers Day Super 10's

(By Liz Butcher)

Mothers Day Super 10s(copy) A perfect still and sunny day saw several teams gathering for winter paddling races. The Pink Dragons had 10 for their boat. Sooupu was available as our sweep and we recruited a caller from the neighbouring supporters.

First time back for several us had the nerves showing pre-race but as soon as the paddles hit the water we were back in the groove.

Three 200m races then a final. That allowed a slow build up to match fitness. Then the final – what an exciting event. The Pink Dragons came second in a very close and well fought race. Lot’s a smiles and a real confidence boost for the team for competing in an open event.

The last event of the day was a longer race, with tight turns. The course was agreed. The sweeps had their instructions. The teams set off in a staggered start at intervals. The race was 500m, maybe more. After the excitement and success of the 200m’s it would be nice to report an equally impressive result but not so.

Overall, the morning was well spent and highly recommended for winter paddling. A great way to keep the paddle in the water and maintain fitness. The perfect weather was a delightful bonus that all enjoyed.

Nationals - Blue Lake, Rotorua 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

2 bronze 1 gold(copy)I think the photo says it all!  However allow me to elaborate a little on our weekend before I get to the best bit.  The team came well prepared for the chill that Rotorua can have at this time of the year.  Flashbacks to our last visit two years ago was a stark reminder of just what happens when soaking wet clothes meets cold air!  So it was no surprise then, when we arrived at the lake early morning to a chill, brisk wind, that we would be struggling to keep warm.  A very grey cloudy sky prevented the sun from showing it's face most of the morning by which time the cold was penetrating every inch of our wet clothing.  But clouds began to part early afternoon and we were once again blessed with the kiss of the sun and oh, how good that felt!
 
Our racing started with heats of 500m followed by our BC final.  Lining the boats up at the start proved very tricky for sweeps as the relentless wind spun the boats out of their lanes in all directions.  We were fired up to give this race our all but alas it proved not to be good enough to take the gold that we had so much wanted.  Boobops took 1st, Busting with Life 2nd and Pink Dragons 3rd.  But we were not beaten yet there were still two more BC finals to race in.  However the Flower Ceremony was our first priority and all boats rafted together after the race finished to remember those no longer with us.  The teams united as they held pink roses high in the air and the boats drifted towards the shore lined with paddlers, friends and supporters.  Once again a Haka was performed to honour us ladies, an emotional experience every time.
 
Now for the best bit!  It would be fair to say that races can be won or lost at the start line and today luck was with us in the 200m, helped enormously by the skills of our sweep, Anne-Marie.  The whole race was over in a flash and at first we weren’t absolutely sure if we had won but the beaming face of our coach Soupu from the shore confirmed that we had just nailed that much wanted GOLD medal.  What a moment that was, a huge cheer went up from our boat and I think I am speaking on behalf of the whole team when I say it was the biggest high we’ve ever had following a race!  Epson girls Grammar formed a guard of honour for us on the beach with chants of ‘PINK DRAGONS, PINK DRAGONS’  followed by a guard of honour by other teams that just seemed to go on forever!
 
One more race to go, the 2000km, a race that we always want to do well in.  Despite nearly loosing our sweep at one point we had a good race, but again not good enough to take that gold away from Boobops or the silver from Busting, Pinkies taking the bronze.
 
Receiving our gold(copy)Never did a hot tub feel as good as it did when we returned triumphant to our motel for a quick dip before dinner.  The Pinkies mood was one of great excitement as we anticipated receiving our gold and bronze medals that evening.  Medals received, hugs, kisses, photos, a drink (if you were lucky) and then for most of the team back to the motel for that long awaited wind down and sleep.
 

Early Sunday morning most of us refreshed, (some not quite) were ready in our smart new uniforms to attend the BC breakfast, a chance to reunite once again with all the BC teams courtesy of NZBCF.  There were some very inspirational speakers from the teams reminding us of just why we paddle.  Time for a last team farewell with hugs and kisses all round and with jingling medals, a triumphant return to Auckland.  It may be the end of the season but not entirely for paddling as we now look forward to winter training and Super 10’s fun regattas.  WELL DONE PINKIES, SEE YOU ALL THERE!!!

Regionals - Lake Pupuke 2013

(by Chris Johnson)

Flower ceremony(copy)It’s that time of year again in the dragon boat calendar where all those weeks of team training will dictate how we perform and the competition starts to get serious!

It was obvious from the outset that the day promised to be kind to us weather-wise with light fluffy clouds gently wafting across the sparkling but somewhat receding lake.  With a light wind, this was looking to be a good paddling day.  Promises were kept but with the breeze just strengthening slightly sweeps had their work cut out to get boats lined up at the start.
 
The days’ programme started with two heats of 500m races followed by the Breast Cancer final.  Pinkies gained their first medal, a bronze, not really our preferred colour but hey it’s a medal!
 
The flower ceremony followed immediately after the final. The beautiful roses were donated by Van Lier Nurseries for the ceremony, check them out at wwvanlier.co.nz.      For many newbies this was a first as they experienced the emotion of the ceremony as the boats rafted together.  Every woman on board united by their own experiences and remembering friends, family and team members who have lost their battle against breast cancer.  The roses were held high and finally cast into the water where they settled amongst the lily pads by the bank as a memory to those brave ladies no longer with us.
 
The programme continued with the heats for 200m and we were very disappointed to just miss out on a medal in this final.  Disappointment put aside, the team were ready for the next challenge, the 2km, an event that we as a team were very determined to do well in.  The race went well and we gained our second medal of the day, silver this time, joint 2nd place with Busting With Life.  Overall Boobops wiped the board with their 3 gold medals – well done to them but we haven’t given up yet!
 
The ADBA’s excellent organisation of the whole event was superb especially in overcoming the challenge of crew loading with a record low water line!  As a team we had a great day and it only remains to mention our appreciation for the Haka that was performed for the breast cancer teams following the flower ceremony and the amazing guard of honour formed by so many paddlers.  Never have we seen a line so long – a very humbling experience!

Make-a-Wish - Gulf Harbour 2013

(by Liz Butcher)

Make a wish(copy)(copy)(copy)Sunday training for the 3rd of March was an all day affair at Gulf Harbour shared with other ADBA teams. This was a great opportunity to prepare for a full day event giving us multiple races rather than the usual one hour practice as we ready ourselves for the coming Regional’s. The Pinkies had 2 teams entered. With 18 in the squad available which meant we had an overlap in each boat ensuring we all had plenty of opportunity to race often.
 
After days (weeks) of hot dry weather, we had a pre-start scare that rain was finally arriving but that was just a tease and we soon had another hot day on the water. The ADBA ran the competitions in their usual friendly and efficient way ensuring every team raced every other team.  The races were held in a small viaduct by the Field of Dreams – an outdoor cinema. Gulf Harbour is being developed and the area we used was great for our needs. The reason we were there was to support the Make A Wish foundation’s fun day to raise money for the great job they do in granting wishes to sick children. At the end of the day ADBA was able to present over $500 raised by the dragon boat event.
 
There was great excitement when the Pinkies 2 boat won their race in the finals. We benefited from having Sooupu as our sweep. He taught us all (other boats included) a lesson on positioning at the race start. His enthusiasm (shouting) helped lift us all the way to the finish. Since we know how that feels we have to take that learning to the Regional’s and do it again – but without Sooupu in the boat with us.
 
Being a fun day, teams were encouraged to dress up in costume. Some were very creative. Our own pinkies wore our race uniforms (we mean business!) with pink embellishments (we can have fun too!).  Our two gazebos, were festooned in pink feathers and flowers. There was a great camaraderie between teams. All would agree it was an excellent day out.

Kai Iwi Boat Camp - 2013

An account of the weekend by Liz, one of our newbies!

10 Feb 2013 Kai Iwi Lakes Dragon Camp 007  2 There’s the sound of a piston in my ears – in fact the sound of a whole engine room full of pistons. We are ploughing ahead through and across the water. Our arms the pistons, bodies rocking with technique and timing, the dragon boat the engine room and the heart of the boat is the team. The sound of the water washing along the boat as it’s passed from the front to the back. Sooupu yelling behind us to reach. What a magnificent feeling when it all comes together. Even if that’s only for the moment before my body starts complaining and my mind wonders how much longer I can keep this up. Actually the truth is the magnificent feeling is when my body complains and my head says stop and I keep going anyway.

Dragon camp at Kai Iwi Lakes. What a fabulous weekend. What a fabulous group of people. What a fabulous experience. The weather report was for sun and that is what we got.

Arriving on Friday afternoon with Robin, checking out the camp grounds and setting up camp. Finding the other Pinkies and friends. Setting up the gazebo and shared area. All that takes time. We picked a corner position close to the paddling end of the camp (some say “party central”). As far from the loo block as we could get, I think. Great toilet facility but a damn long walk in the dark!! I did mention the trees looked handy but was advised by Robin it was not the done thing! It was a joke on my part but in the “wee” hours of the morning I was wishing the loo block was closer to home.

First up was an evening paddle for all those who organized themselves well enough to arrive in time or who didn’t mind putting up a tent in the dark. Robin and I were there but missed the boat – I think by the amount of time it took to cull all the surplus stuff I had before we could set off; or maybe by the time it took us to set up the tent and get the framing to behave or to work out the strings that hold everything in place. We were lucky enough that the boat came back and enough got out to let a few more in. Thanks to those that went out again with us and those that let us in.

Then, there was time to set up air beds and shake out the sleeping bags before joining the other Pinkies settling into their new home away from home for some socializing while the team managers had their meeting to cook up the plans for torturing, I mean tutoring, us the next day.

Robin set her alarm ready for the morning paddle – we were not going to miss that boat. Turns out my cell phone alarm goes even Liz at Kai Iwiwhen switched off, so we were up earlier than expected. The sun rose slowly and gently over the hills across the lake from us. It was soft and pink as it broke then once my camera was away and we headed to the boats for the promised 7am paddle we were given a dazzling display of rich orange as the sun cleared the hills and shone across the water.

Four boats went out across to the other side and back. A perfect start to a great weekend. The first set of wet clothes for Robin’s trusty washing line.  Back at camp it was breakfast time and time to prepare for a 2-3 hour training session starting at 10am where we were divided into newbies, intermediate and hardcore!

I am a newbie, there were a lot of us – excellent! That means the sport is healthy. There were also a large number in the intermediate, another good sign.  For the newbies, Alesha gave us individual coaching. She didn’t take the boat out for a while, instead we had technique training then an individual assessment.  Before going out everyone in the group had to say what they wanted to learn, or clarify. It was good for us to realize the questions we had were often the same as others. Then the weather changed and we did get in the boat and headed around to the sheltered bay. A chance to show our new learning and finish the individual coaching.

The day then became a wonderful programme of boating events interspersed with eating opportunities.  So, lunch and back to the boats and more paddling. The lakes are just lovely. With a hot day the water is warm and wonderful. A chance to put into practice our training. And of course… race! Wow! Not sure how fast we went but surely there was a record broken! Ok – maybe not… just a personal best for me.

Then le mans… oh lord! Prayer is a friend of mine. I pray just to keep going some days. Races are hard. We train for races. This is not a Sunday paddle. Wow, what great fun! There was a course set, there were instructions involving a ball. There were lessons on right of way at the buoy. Not sure what happened about the ball but that didn’t quite work out. As for right of way… might is right! Ok – maybe not, there are rules… no one fell out. Until later. I’m glad I wasn’t in the boat that capsized. It was a controlled capsize and a lesson for us all.  Next, it was play time. Could a dragon boat drag a skier? Yes, they could but not for long. Someone did get up, nearly. I have a picture to prove it. A great sight and an excellent effort all round.

Robin wasn’t finished with me yet. Since the water was there and we needed to get wet it was a perfect opportunity for the swim test. Bella was rounded up as well and I am pleased to say I am expecting my 50m swimming certificate any day soon in the mail. Bella dashed off to her tent after and came back with soap! Smart thinking!!

So, what was left for the day? Dinner and a dance. A seriously full day and a fun packed evening. A stage was set in front of the main gazebo and car lights had to be found for lighting. All the teams were to prepare a skit. Some put in more practice than others. Ours being one of the others. Oh dear! A moment of panic. A decision that we abandon all hope then our team was called and we took the stage – all of us. I am pleased to say we won a box of chocolates. Some people thought we were robbed and should have got first prize. We were there though. If we were going to be fools, we were fools together. That is a team! The acts we followed were great and showed a lot more practice than ours but we were there to paddle not sing. We took our paddles to the “stage” and what started out as a gentle rendition of Rock the Boat soon become a pole dance act. There were timing issues and I think that is why we didn’t win… well done ladies anyway. The teams that did not prepare a skit were called to the stage and given their penance. What a great evening.  With the acts finished people either headed to their own little groups or found their beds. Some went night fishing and cooked up a small feast of yabbies! The music went on (and on) and a happy camp settled. If this is camping, it is not to be missed.

I was on my own mission though. I wanted a picture of the sunrise. Having seen the beautiful sunrise that morning I was determined to get a photograph the next day. Robin and I were up early and headed to the toilet block and found the best vantage point for the photos. Lovely. A slow gentle start to the day with a cup of tea at the Busting camp, as the rest of the camp rose at their own pace and started the process of de-camping. Breakfast, take the tent down, pack the car and wave good bye Kai Iwi Lakes. Ahhhh… wonderful!

What I learned in the weekend
- the alarm on my cell phone goes even when the phone is turned off
- if you’re late you miss the boat
- if you’re lucky the boat comes back for you – if they have an empty seat
- it’s a good idea to plan your meals with your buddies so you don’t take excess food
- you do not need half the things you take – you are not gone that long from civilization
- you can not find the thing you are looking for anyway – even though it was packed
- pack plenty of knickers and pants – they keep getting wet
- the sun rises between 6:30 and 7:00
- it’s a good idea to practice your skit if you have to perform one
- it’s good to have a team with you even if you haven’t practiced the skit
- if Lyn has a paddle and an audience – she’ll use it for pole dancing
- timing is good and when you have it it’s wonderful – but just keep going anyway
- breathing is good – don’t forget it
- if Sooupu gets anywhere near another boat there will be a race – one there and one back (actually, I knew that already)
- a team of dragons can tow a water skier – nearly
- it’s fun finding that out
- dragon boaters are great people
- lean forward, shoulder over knee, draw back using legs, twist shoulders as you go… and power!
- grab the water the person pushes your way and push it on back to the next
- breathe

Auckland Anniversary Day - Super 10’s 2013

viaduct 2013The forecast was for another resoundingly spectacular day as the teams began setting up in the viaduct for what has become an ever growing regatta.  For the first time Pink Dragons entered two teams and the competition within the team was heightened as we competed to outdo each other! 
 
The crowds began to increase throughout the day with tourists, supporters and spectators just soaking up the atmosphere in and around the viaduct.  We raced splash and dash heats against mixed teams in our new 10 person boats.  There was much excitement within our 2 teams as we cheered and shouted for each other.  With no direct competition between team 1 and 2 it was all down to the team with the best results overall.  It was unanimously agreed that team 2 came out on top – so well done to them!
 
This regatta has grown immensely over the past three years and hopefully still growing.  With it’s special atmosphere, support from the Auckland Dragon Boat Association and Auckland Council it’s future is, hopefully, secure.   The Pinkies will be back for sure next year!

Wenderholm  2012

Tug a war Wenderholm 1A perfect day greeted us as we arrived at Wenderholm  with the expectation of a great day of racing, sun, sea and sand, what more could you ask for!
 
The racing got off to a start with an incoming tide making loading the boats quite tricky as we negotiated the waves.  Once we were away from the shore it was all good and  as the day progressed loading the boats became a good deal easier as the tide gradually retreated.  Our newbies took it all in their stride and thoroughly enjoyed their first regatta with the team.
 
We enjoyed a shared lunch and a visit from santa himself.  Unfortunately one of our team members got more than she bargained for when one of his lolly’s hit her on the mouth and gave her a bit of a fat lip!  Team tug-of-war followed but unfortunately we were beaten by Busting with Life.
 
The last race of the day was a relay race with four teams made up of paddlers from different teams.  It was great fun, especially when a wave capsized the leading boat, out spilling all paddlers into the sea.  It just shows the unexpected can happen just when you think you’ve got the race in the bag!
 
After last years complete wash out at Wenderholm, this year was a resounding success.  Hope next year will be just as good, looking forward to it already!

Tauranga Super 12 - 2012

Paddling out Tauranga 1 1The paddling gods were with us today,  all those rain dances must have worked this time!  Instead of trying to keep out of the rain we were trying to stay out of the sun – but we weren’t complaining.

Boobops once again managed and organised the event and the day went off without a hitch.  The breast cancer teams were lucky enough to be presented with a gift basket for each team full of fruit and goodies, so thank you to those who organised them.

Pink Dragons race results presented no real victory for us in the breast cancer race as Boobops took 1st place, Busting with Life just managing to pull ahead of us to take 2nd place and Pink Dragons 3rd.  The flowers for the ceremony following the race were beautiful and as last year, were picked by one of Boobops team members from her own garden.  Mark Tauranga 1

Another great weekend, with lots of laughs shared. Thanks also to our team member for the day, Mark for stepping up and padding with us and being such a good sport!

Hamilton Super 12 - 2012

Hamilton 2012 1With rain forecast for the day, the expectation was that it would be a wet and cold experience.  It was no surprise therefore that it did indeed rain all day!  However team spirit was good and we all made the most of the day. 
 
The breast cancer final was a very close call, with Boobops just taking 1st from us with a tiny lead.  A flower ceremony followed to honour our paddling angels.
 
Then time to pack up in the rain and get soaking wet clothing replaced with dry before the long drive home. Despite the rain, we had a good day, better luck next year with the weather hopefully!

Paddle for Hope  2012

Pink Dragons SUP teamThe weather turned up trumps for this event held at the Auckland viaduct. A fun annual festival of Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) devised by breast cancer survivor Karin Horen to raise money for breast cancer awareness.  Pink Dragons entered a team comprising two members and one seconded for the day!   After some practice paddling and a spot of yoga to limber up, the race was on with teams in all manner of fancy dress.  We didn’t win but we didn’t disgrace ourselves either by coming last  A great venue, great weather and great fun what more could you ask for!

 

 

The Pink Dragons baring all for a good cause

Calendar girlsEight members of the Pink dragons team were invited to be part of this year's Pink Ribbon Calendar. Art Directors Anna Molineaux and Cathy Davies, both highly respected body artists, had a unique challenge to paint one pink dragon on 8 bodies. The painting took 10 hours to complete and started with a simple sketch across all of the girls and then each of the Pinkies were painted individually. At the end of the day they fitted together to form this beautiful Pink Dragon symbolizing strength and togetherness.

As their October quote reads - 'Oh my friends, it's not what they have taken away from you that counts - it's what you do with what you have left'.

The calendar is available in all Whitcoulls stores or on line at
www.pinkribboncalendar.co.nz
Please support this wonderful fundraising event - $10 from every calendar goes to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

Splash & Dash Super 10 - September 2012

Super 10 Splash and DashOnce again ten members of the Pink Dragons team gathered with fellow paddlers at Westhaven for a morning of racing and to have some fun at the same time.  A keen southerly made racing pretty chilly especially when we were wet through, but glimpses of the sun occasionally gave us the opportunity to warm up.

Fun we certainly had as we took part in a couple of sprint races, a final and a timed circuit course.  This last timed race proved to be very interesting as we paddled 360º around several marker buoys.  At one point we had a close encounter with another boat but our sweep, who coaches Shirley Boys High in Christchurch, steered us out of trouble and nobody ended up in the water.  However seeing a dragons head heading straight towards you is pretty alarming!

The results of the mornings racing wasn’t as important as getting together with other team members, catching up with everyone and doing what we love to do most PADDLING!!!

Pink Ribbon Breakfast -2012

 
Pink Ribbon Breakfast 2One of our Pinkies kindly hosted a Pink Ribbon Breakfast at her house one Sunday morning.  Pink was the order of the day with pink nibbles and balloons galore.  The breakfast was well attended by pinkies and friends, many wearing pink themselves, we even had a pink fairy in our midst!
 
Everyone gave generously, bought raffle tickets and Pink Ribbon merchandise.  The grand total collected was $334 and this money will go towards funding community outreach programmes throughout the country. The programmes help to heighten community awareness of breast cancer and provide support that assists to improve the quality of life of people affected by breast cancer in New Zealand.  As breast cancer survivors we know how important these programmes are and that this will be money well spent.

Hot Rocking Super 10’s - Westhaven  - May 2012

 
May 10s at Pier X   CopyPicture the scene as we arrived early morning at Westhaven, a blanket of fog swirling over the water giving a cold almost spooky feel to the ocean.  Then out of the mist slowly emerge our dragon boats silently gliding through the water, what an amazing entrance for our new super 10 boats.  Then the fog began to lift to the promise of a good morning ahead and by the look of some of our Pinkies a lot of fun too!
 
We were told to dress for the occasion and we certainly did!  Out came our new pink and black woolly hats; on went pink feather boas and pink flower lays and even a pink wig, what a sight we must have looked! 
 
We competed in two short races before a final, followed by a longer race which involved several 180º‘s and a 360º hand brake turn!  The sweeps are loving these new short boats as they manoeuvre so easily around tight turns. We were amazed to hear that we had achieved the fourth fastest time in this race – well done Pinkies!  This was a ‘fun’ regatta and we all certainly had a lot of that today, bring on the next one.

Hammerheads Evening – 2012

 
Annemarie with awardOnce again the team were all invited to attend an evening get-together at the exceptional location of Hammerheads organised by our Captain, Paula, who is both partner in the restaurant and one of our sponsors.  Food and drink was supplied by Paula and was, as usual, plentiful and delicious.
 
The evening is primarily to thank all our sponsors, unfortunately none were able to attend this year but our thanks goes out to them anyway.  Without their funding we would not be able to train, enter regattas or be kitted out with uniforms.  However we were pleased to welcome two representatives from Auckland Dragon Boat Association this year who presented us with gold medals for our win in the Regional 2000m race.  The whole team were overjoyed to receive their first gold medal!

Besides enjoying a team reunion the evening presents an opportunity to announce the Team Member of the Year award.  This year it went to Annemarie Stevens for her remarkable effort to train as a sweep for the team.  She showed great confidence and ability as she took on what is a very difficult job.  The whole team were unanimous in their approval of this years’ choice, CONGRATULATIONS ANNEMARIE!

Auckland Anniversary Day

Racing in the finals  1A Rookie's recall of her first Regatta

Auckland really knows how to celebrate it's birthday.  Despite weeks of miserable weather leading up to the event, the sun was glistening on the water in the Viaduct,  welcoming me to my very first Dragon Boating event.
 
Amidst the crowds of colourful sporting uniforms, banners and throngs of tents,  I managed to find the sea of candy pink singlets indicating that my team, The Pink Dragons, were set up for the day and ready to compete.  The Viaduct was alive with drums, boats and people.  I wasn't sure of what to expect, but was quickly reassured by team members about the events for the day, and our plan of attack.   The nerves were building before the first race, fueled by the crowds and the insistency of the drums. It seemed almost incongruous to be in a dragon boat in the narrow Viaduct channel, flanked by Mega-yachts!
 
Not only was I a rookie to dragon boat racing, I was also just released from my treatment program for breast cancer,  my year to date being filled with doctors, operations, chemotherapy and radiation.  It was timed perfectly for me to begin training with the team, and I couldn't think of a better way than paddling twice a week in the Westhaven Marina to banish the demons of a not so great year.  The fitness and companionship with a group of women who had been through the same experience was invaluable.
 
The races were over in a flash, our results were forgotten just as quickly, as we entered the gangplank of hand slapping and comraderie, as each race ended.   The crowd was amazing and so was the spectacular venue.  As far as a rookie racing for the first time, it couldn't get any better. This competition was just the appetizer for the events to come, but like a memorable meal, is not one that is easily forgotten, with a perfect balance of competition coupled with a glamour location.  Happy birthday Auckland!

Nationals Lake Hood - 2012

Medals Lake Hood 2012 1Memories of our last Nationals at Lake Hood were still in the forefront of many of the  Pinkies minds.  The extreme cold of that day chilled our bodies to the bone and thus made us pack to be prepared for the worst!  We need not have worried because the day couldn’t have been any different from that last one.  A crisp morning was followed by sunshine throughout the day and everyone gave a sigh of relief.

With such good conditions our Pink Dragons sweep, Annemarie, was able to take up the challenge to test her sweeping skills in the most important event of the year.  She rose to every challenge and showed the team that she had indeed mastered the skill of sweeping – well done Annemarie!

The racing got off to a bit of a late start and after two heats of 500m races we were preparing for the breast cancer final.  A close call as usual and we took third place with Boobops taking 1st and CanSurvive 2nd.  The flower ceremony took place immediately following the race and as we came ashore we were honoured with a haka performed by some of the high school boys.

The 200m also gave us 3rd place for the breast cancer teams as did the 2000m.  One or two hiccups during this race may have lost us vital seconds that could have given us 2nd place.  However, the team were more than happy with their effort; after all, we came away with three bronze medals and were delighted to be presented with so much bling!

Following the presentation most of the team returned to the accommodation to mull over the events of the day with a well earned glass of wine beside the warm glow of the fire before retiring to bed.  The following morning was an early start for the drive back to Ashburton to attend the Breast Cancer Breakfast with other BC teams.  After breakfast and some farewells to old friends, the Pink Dragons headed off to Christchurch for a tour of the city, with it’s sad reminders of the devastating earthquake that tore it apart.  Then it was time to head off to the airport for our return to Auckland.

This weekend has meant more than just winning medals, it has brought out the team spirit and camaraderie of twenty-four survivors brought together by a common experience and a passion for dragon boating and without this the team could not exist.  Next season ‘go harder pinkies’ we’ve still got unfinished business of a goal not yet achieved!


Regionals Lake Pupuke – 2012

Arriving at the Lake in the morning the team could see they were going to be in for a rough ride!  The wind was whipping the lake into a frenzy of waves and promised to make paddling today more like a white water event with challenges all round for both paddlers and sweeps.

Today our Pink Dragons sweep, Annemarie, was to sweep for us in her first regional regatta.  With the prevailing conditions all the new sweeps found lining the boats up at the start line challenging.  In our first 500m we collided with a boat in the next lane as their boat edged nearer and nearer to ours and finally locked the two boats together momentarily.  In the second race a boat capsized, whew! It wasn’t us!  Officials announced that only experienced pool sweeps would be used for safety unless conditions improved.

The cross wind didn’t let up as we all paddled through the heats and the team was delighted to be awarded three trophies.  One for 3rd place in the 200m, 3rd in 2000m  Premier Women’s Division and best of all a 1st for the fasted breast cancer team in the 2000m.  A great result for all our hard work!

Once again we remembered our ‘paddling angels’ in a moving flower ceremony and as usual there was tremendous support from all teams and spectators.

The team was more than satisfied with their achievements today and I know we’ll do our best to do even better at the Nationals next weekend.  Kia Kaha Pink Dragons!


Kai Iwi Lakes Summer Dragon Boat Camp

Kai Iwi LakesThe third annual dragon boat camp kicked off on Friday, February 10, with 10 members of the Pink Dragons team and two Under 23 paddlers who accompanied their mums. 

On Friday evening conditions on the lake were absolutely superb for the sunset paddle, but unfortunately Pinkies missed the boats, literally, and stood forlornly on the shore, but admiring the sunset nevertheless.  Our next chance for a “leisurely” paddle was the sunrise Tour de Lake at 7am on Saturday.  The great thing about the DB camp is that all crews are mixed, so it’s a good opportunity to meet other dragon boaters we might never encounter except under competition conditions.

At 9 am we were divided into Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice groupings.  I was most impressed to see the size of the Novice group.  This season’s recruitment campaign has obviously been most successful.  The Advanced group was defined as comprising paddlers who have been dragon boating for 5 years or more, the Intermediate group 2-4 years and the Novices under 2 years.  Nothing about how fit we are!

With Sooupu at the helm of our Advanced group boat and Chris Stone in the bow, the next hour and a half was a gruelling session of stretching us to our limits and trying out race formats.  There were 4 of us Pinkies and a boatload of fit young people.  But we held our own and managed to walk, unaided, off the boat at the end. The intermediate group were also pushed to their limits and I believe the Novices were out under the command of a hard taskmaster, for a good two hours!

After lunch followed more training and the nice thing about this camp is that nothing is compulsory.  Most of us turned up for the team relay races at in the afternoon. The first 4 boats raced Le Mans style from the shallows, via a triangular course, back to the beach, tagged our next team who did the same, then the first pair of teams with all members ashore and Hi-Fived to the end were the winners.  Some of the Pinkies managed all the training AND the races.  Go girls!

Team races 1The fine weather faltered in the middle of Saturday, but was fine again by the evening. Happy Hour almost became dinner, as we shared our snacks and cooked our camp dinners before heading off to the fun and games of land races.  Amazingly, some still had the energy to participate in the relay races which involved mind-altering beverages, plus mind-altering actions with a paddle that made running in a straight line something of a challenge and a source of hilarity for the spectators.

The balmy evening encouraged chatting, laughing, singing and dancing until the 10.30 curfew of the campground.  The snores audible throughout the campground testified to some sound sleeps that night.

Sunday dawned sunny and hot again, and the real world began to intrude upon our idyllic camp.  Some had to depart early, and some of us took our time packing up and having a last lazy swim before heading back to Auckland.

Chris Stone and his AklDBA committee did a fine job of organising this increasingly popular highlight of the dragon boat season.  We Pinkies who attended would like to encourage even more of our members to join us next February at Kai Iwi Lakes.

 

Hamilton Super 12 - 2011

pinkies under cover 1I think it would be fair to say that most of the team came prepared for a reasonably warm sunny day’s racing at the Lake today.  No-one could have guessed how unpredictable the weather would be!  Gusts of wind began to pick up in the morning and so did the gazebos! 
 
Our first race didn’t go quite to plan, with a false start as some of our team thought they heard someone shout ‘GO’ and did just that and the rest of the team decided they’d better go too!  Part way through the race we were clipped from behind by another boat and our sweep (not Sooupu) veered across several lanes in an attempt to avoid a collision.  Most of us wondered what on earth was happening but just carried on paddling as we’ve been taught to and we came 2nd!  Subsequent races saw us placed 2nd, 3rd, 2nd and in the Breast Cancer Final we were 2nd.
 
It was just around lunch time that the first sudden deluge of rain caught us out with everyone desperately scrambling for any kind of cover they could find.  Once we were all well and truly soaked through the rain stopped and the sun came out once again and racing continued.  Ominous grey clouds started to gather as we loaded the boats for the Breast Cancer Final.  As we raced to the finish line the heavens opened on us in a torrent of rain.  Four boats laden with rain drenched paddlers, callers and sweeps rafted up reluctantly for the flower ceremony, limply holding their flowers aloft.  Our sweep, Sooupu shouted, “Forget the music, just throw the flowers”.   Flowers thrown, the boats headed back to the shore following the quickest flower ceremony ever!
 
As we all packed up our soggy gear the skies gradually cleared and by the time we set off for home it turned out to be a rather fine evening.  We had a great days racing, our results proved that and the rest, well we can just look back and laugh about it now and look forward to the next regatta.

 

Tauranga Super 12 – 2011

New look Pinkies 2There was quite an excited buzz amongst the team on Friday evening as individuals arrived at the accommodation and were issued with their long awaited new team racing shirts.  Lots of discussion and thought had gone into the design of these shirts  and here they were at last to be premiered at tomorrow’s regatta!

Unfortunately the wind was taken out of our sails as soon as we reached the venue  we realised the old boats would be in use and would snag our beautiful new shirts on their high sides!  So photos taken, off they came and on went the old shirts instead.  That aside, once again Boobops did us all proud, with an excellently organised event.  All the breast cancer survivor teams again received a wonderful basket of goodies which was very much appreciated by the team.

We took part in two races before the breast cancer race.  Boobops took first place by a boats length and Pink Dragons just beat Busting to the line for second place.  The race was then followed by a very moving flower ceremony.  The beautiful roses were provided by one of Boobops own team members from her garden.

One more race bought the days racing to an end for us and it was time to pack up and set off for the long drive home.  It had been another successful day’s paddling and I think the team would all agree that we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to take part in such a wonderful sport!
 

Splash & Dash Super 12 Westhaven – 2011

Pinkies at Splash   DashAs the Pinkies assembled for our first fun dragon boat regatta of the new season there were some very grey clouds gathering overhead.  Would they dampen our enthusiasm today or would our keenness to paddle after a long break override a shower or two?

There was lots of excited chatter as we greeted old team buddies and welcomed some new ones.  Today was all about having fun with rules also relaxed a little, hence we were joined by one or two members from other teams to make up our numbers.

All the races were short and sweet approx 250m with three boats per race, perfect for the start of the season as some of us had limbs and muscles that were a bit out of practice!
Our races went well and we surprised ourselves with good finishes.  In the final we managed first place, a result the team were more than happy with for our first regatta of the season. 
This was a great start now we just need to knuckle down to training and go from strength to strength and we’ll be right Pinkies!

 

Nationals -Blue Lake Rotorua 2011

Blue_lake_1.JPGWe were pre-warned that the forecast for the Nationals would be rain and we were not disappointed!  Most of the team arrived at various times on Friday and after an early night we woke Saturday to a dry morning and were teased  with a ray of hope, soon to be dashed, as we arrived at the lake and the first of the rain dampened our day.  Rain or shine however cannot take away from the sheer magic of this lake and whatever the weather it’s a privilege to be part of this event!

We worked our way through the heats keeping a careful watch on our times and how we might ‘fine tune’ before the breast cancer final.  This race is always such an important one for us as a team and as always we put our heart and soul into it.  It wasn’t enough however, and we came third and another bronze medal for the collection.

The disappointment of another year without a gold medal was soon put aside as the boats rafted up together for the flower ceremony and we gave a few moments of thought and prayer for our paddling angels and then cast our flowers onto the lake.

This year there were two new race categories to enter – a 250 metre sprint and a 2 kilometre race.  The 250 metre sprint should have The_happy_team_1.JPGbeen a breeze for us BUT – we panicked and our paddling turned to s*!t.  Oh well we’ll learn by our mistakes.  On the other hand we entered the 2k race with no expectation other than to paddle at a steady pace and finish it.  But as we got into the rhythm we began to pick up the pace and suddenly it was game on!  We were racing for a place and we got a well deserved third – not bad considering we were up against teams that were non-breast cancer too!  We were pretty proud of ourselves as I don’t think any of us thought we had anything left at the end of the day to give to that race, but it just shows that when that adrenaline kicks in anything is possible.

After a wonderful breakfast sponsored and organised by NZBCF for all the breast cancer survivor teams we left Rotorua tired, and I hope, with some good memories of a great weekend despite the rain.  Lets hope next time we return it will be to a glorious day of sunshine – fingers crossed!!!

Regionals - Lake Pupuke 2011

Manju_and_Marie.JPGThe lake put on its best glistening sparkle for us as the sun shone down on it for the Regionals and produced a great days’ racing for all.  We had yet another close Breast Cancer Final placing Pink Dragons in 3rd place, Boobops 2nd and another victory for Busting with life in 1st place.  It was a chance also for two of our newest members to experience the challenge of competitive racing.  Here’s how Manju writes about her first experience. (Manju on left Marie on Right)

“I have been lucky, really lucky, I had been asked if I could paddle for  the regionals at Lake Pupuke. Could a day be more perfect? I didn’t know what to expect, but by now I have so much faith in my team that I would brave anything as long as I was in the same boat as them.

By now, I have known a bit more of each of their journeys and I am so inspired by the courage and strength that each one has that I feel its a privilege to be able to paddle with one… so paddling with 19 of the most awesome women I have come across is something amazing. Our team completed six races and I received my first bronze medal, not just the first medal for dragon boating, but the first in my whole life!  The races were tough but the ‘Flower Ceremony’ was tougher.  Today at my first flower ceremony I found it profoundly moving and strengthening. I wish more women would have the luck to learn from my pink sisters as I have.

Six races to complete on a day was tough and if I thought that racing in a breast cancer survivor team was wishy-washy, I was wrong,  You could cut the air with a knife, and gritty determination ruled all the teams. Our competition was awesome, truly worthy of respect, and the underlying emotion for all of us was “ We’re all in the same boat”.

Tauranga Super 12 – Tauriko Lake - 2011


Ready_to_race_1.JPGThis year the Super 12 regatta was held for the first time at the beautiful setting of the Tauriko manmade Lakes, a superb location just a short distance out of Tauranga.  The Boobops team did a magnificent job of organising the event and the day was blessed with heaps of sunshine to aid, what was to be a day of good paddling, fun and great camaraderie.

Our first two races were against non-breast cancer teams and although we paddled our hearts out we are very rarely a match for these teams as they always include big burley male paddlers with strong arm muscles and today was no exception!

During the morning, to our delight, Boobops organised and delivered beautiful baskets of morning tea for the breast cancer teams, full of all kinds of goodies to eat.  Thank you so much!  It was obvious from the way everyone was tucking in that it was really appreciated!

This breast cancer race was particularly poignant for us as a few days previously we had lost a dear member of our paddling team, Leonie to breast cancer.  We paddled the race for her and as the boats rafted up for the flower ceremony our thoughts and hearts were for our paddling angel and all the others who had gone before.

We paddled well the rest of the day and we made it into a final, but alas for all our effort we took fourth place.  However, we didn’t go home feeling despondent, we’d had a wonderful day hosted by Boobops who’d made us feel so very welcome, a big THANK YOU once again for all their efforts.

Auckland Anniversary Day  - Super 16 Regatta 2011 

Auckland_Anniversary_Day_.JPGThe Viaduct harbour always proves to be the setting for a great days racing and today was no exception.  With the Seafood Festival in full swing along one side, restaurants, cafes and bars geared themselves up for a busy day ahead.The scene was completed by a line of tightly packed together gazebos belonging to the dragon boat teams, all ready for some fun and action.

We were up against some strong opposition as all teams taking part were non-breast cancer apart from Busting with Life.  Three boats took part in most races and you could say we were very consistent throughout the day, taking 3rd place in each of our rounds (yes that does mean we were last) until our final that is!

Our final consisted of three all woman teams; two breast cancer, Pink Dragons and Busting with Life and Jaffettes, a non-breast cancer team.  We’ve never managed to beat Busting yet but today we paddled our socks off and we did it!! It was a close race but the result was Jaffettes took first place by a fraction of a second.  Even though we didn’t win it was still a good result for us.

It was a great day not just for the paddlers but also for all the spectators who came to watch, including supporters for family and friends that cheered us on.  I’m sure we all hope this will become an annual event on the Auckland dragon boat calendar from now on.

Wenderholm Funday Regatta - 11 Dec 2010


Santa_comes_to_Wenderholm_1.JPGAnother fun day was had at The Wenderholm Beach Regatta. The weather stayed dry and we all stayed entertained. 

The first of 3 races before lunch had us all paddling our hearts out over the 500m distance. With warm water and not too choppy waves we got third. Third was very much the result of the day as we battled against Random Jaffa women, Busting with life and White Tigers to name but a few in our subsequent races.

Beach races are always fun, as to finish teams have to beach their boat in the shallows whilst one of the team scrambles out and races to a marker on the sand. We tied third in our second race when Yvonne’s mad dash up the beach was to close to call with our competitors.

Lunch was our Christmas picnic and as usual when women get together with shared lunch there was far too much food. Some of it was even good for us! Fun and games started after lunch. Soupu made a spirited attempt at the sack race and the kids all had a great time with the jandal toss and the special visit from Santa with his lolly bag.

Races after lunch were the Le Mans style. Toni (our newest recruit) had to stay on dry land and race to the boat before we could all push off and start paddling. The races were 250m with a turn half way. Soupu kept us all in line and no capsizes were reported!
Another great day of paddling for us and a great pre-Christmas get together for us all.

 

Hamilton Super 12 – 4th Dec 2010

The team gathered early on Saturday morning to the promise of fine weather for racing.  As the day progressed the clouds broke and the sun produced a sweltering hot day that sent most of us seeking some shade when we weren’t actually on the water.

Ready_to_go__2_.JPGOur first race of the day gave us a tremendous boost as we took first place.  It was however, the only win of the day for us and unfortunately a bit of a bad start in our second race, but these things happen!  We raced well throughout the day and didn’t have the misfortune that one of the teams had, as the hooter sounded at the race start – they capsized leaving all twelve paddlers, a sweep, a caller and their boat at the start line! This delayed the race programme slightly as they were toed back to shore accompanied by cheering from the onlookers.

We went into the breast cancer final with confidence and as ever it was a close call with Busting with Life taking first place by a fraction of a second and Pink Dragons and Boobops tying second place.  Immediately after the race the boats rafted up for a flower ceremony.

It was a great day enjoyed by all, now we need to go back to the drawing board to see how we can improve before the start of the 2011 regattas.

 

Dragons Abreast Regatta – Darling Harbour Sydney Trip

October 2010

posing_for_photo_1.JPGFriday morning, October 29th, the Pink Dragons are gathering at the airport check-in, excitedly anticipating their first international regatta as a full team. We’ve been planning and training for this for months, including some cold winter mornings.  The Air NZ crew make an announcement, wishing our team well this weekend.  On arrival at Sydney we make quite an impression as we troop through the airport in our uniform, pink paddle bags slung over our shoulders, people curious as to what we’re carrying in those bags!  We are questioned by many people and wished ‘good luck’ en route from the airport to our apartments. 

Friday afternoon and Saturday is free time to see some of the sights or catch up on shopping at some of the markets.  Some of us manage both and by the end of Saturday we have just about shopped ourselves out!  Saturday evening we have our pre-race meeting and get down to the serious business of why we are here.  Later, some of us watch the All Blacks v Wallabies match only to be totally demoralised when the Aussies beat us in the last few seconds of the game.  Oh well, I suppose we have to let them win sometimes!

ready_to_go_1.JPGSunday – this is it, it’s what we came for!    It is a perfect day for paddling on Darling Harbour, the venue and the atmosphere is amazing.  We wait quite a while for our first heat but finally it’s time for the warm up, line-up, team photo, line-up again and off we go to boat loading.  Now everyone is nervous. We don’t have our familiar sweep and coach, Sooupu to guide us through the race.  Brenda, our Aussie sweep, is lovely, but she speaks a different language! It is a tricky start, with calls that we don’t quite understand and suddenly it’s all go.  Once we’re on our way we know what to do and we come second! The next heat follows much the same pattern as the first – minus the photos.  We understand the calls better this time and well, would you believe it – we win! As our Aussie sweep says “I reckon it’s a tenner”!  This means that we make it to the finals. 

Lining up for the start of the final is a very tense time, but once that hooter sounds, we just put everything we possibly can into the race.  Final outcome: 1st DA Melbourne – 1.17.270, 2nd DA Geelong -1.18.010, 3rd Busting with Life -1.18.870 - Well done Busting!!, 4th Pink Dragons (by 0.3 sec) - 1.19.200 - Well done us!! 

looking_relaxed_1.JPGFollowing the Breast Cancer Survivors Final, eight boats of breast cancer survivors raft up together in the harbour to remember all those who have not shared our good fortune to survive, and the many who are undergoing treatment.  We throw handfuls of pink rose petals onto the water then let the boats drift apart.  Each paddler takes up their paddle and the boats follow one behind the other for a circuit of honour round the harbour. The only sound is the gentle tap-paddling rhythm of each crew. Then the cheering begins and follows us back to the pontoons. It is very emotional.

To round off the weekend we go out to Wagamama for our team dinner on Sunday evening followed by drinks and nibbles in one of the apartments.  After saying our goodbyes at Auckland airport on Monday we take home our memories.  Everyone agrees that they had an amazing time in Sydney.  We’ve had an experience that we will always remember and we hope, one day, we may be able to repeat it. 

A big ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who put in the hard work raising funds and organising the trip, it was a huge success. 

 

Flippin' Freezin' Super 12 - 2010

                                                                   Flippin_Freezin_Super12_1.JPGIt took all our will power to get up early on a cold weekend morning but once we got to Westhaven the sun was shining and the teams were ready for action and we all caught the mood. The first set of races was the long 3.5km under the Harbour bridge and back. It looked like hard work as we watched from the shore as the teams fought the current and their own tiredness. The fun started as the boats had to manouvre around the bridge supports. It was tight turn between the White Tigers and Lion but Soupu steered the team round on the inside with no collision or upset.

As there weren’t enough breast cancer teams members to have two teams some of our team joined Busting to create ‘pink busts’. We watched as they got through the waves and made a respectable time of 23 mins when the other boats were finishing at about 18 mins. Not bad for paddlers who hadn’t all paddled that far before.

Next came our team races. The boats were quickly loaded and we got ready on the start line. We were off pulling away as fast as we could manage, two reaches later and we had finished. It was all over so quickly and at 250m’s only half our normal race distance. two more races followed and we used them to get our technique right as we practiced our starts.  By the last race we felt good and back in action as a team after a long winter break. A good day was had by all and a useful re-bonding exercise was started. Roll on the start of the season! 

Thank you to our Sponsors

Another successful evening was organised by Team Captain Paula at Hammerheads Restaurant to thank our sponsors who have supported our team throughout 2009/2010 with their generosity. Without their support Pink Dragons would not have been able to have participated in events throughout the dragon boating season and purchased much needed equipment.

Sue_receiving_award_1.JPGPaula, (owner of Hammerheads) as a sponsor herself, put on yet another wonderful spread of food and drink for us as we gathered for what has become an annual event in our Pink Dragon calendar. Robin, our Team Leader, offered thanks to our sponsors for their continuing support and presented them with a team photo.  Paula announced that the Team Member of the Year trophy this year would go to Sue Jenness – well done Sue!

 

  

Pinkies in Canada

IPS_Kiwis_Canada_2010_1.jpgWhat a way to skip some of the gloom of a NZ winter! But that’s not the reason 4 members of the Pink Dragons team headed to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in June 2010. Leonie, Elaine, Sue and Robin attended the third World Participatory Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Festival together with 2 paddlers from the Waikato, one from Wellington, and one from the Wairarapa. These 8 proud Kiwis joined an international team called the International Pink Sisters, together with 7 Canadians and 6 Americans.

The IPS met each other over dinner one night, practised together on the water for an hour the next day, and raced together in 4 races over the next two days, winning 2 of those races and coming 3rd in another.

A special race was the Sandy Smith Global Race, in memory of a woman who was instrumental in helping establish teams all over the world. It is an honour to participate in this race, in crews comprised of members of different teams from around the world. Our own Leonie was chosen from the IPS team, and her boat won the race. Could that be Leonie’s paddling, or the efforts of the male breast cancer survivor in her boat?

After the race, 10 boats rafted together for the Flower Ceremony. During this moving event, a choir sang, and a formation of marchers bearing a long swathe of pink fabric created the international Pink Ribbon symbol. When the paddlers in the boats cast their flowers into the water, the remaining paddlers from 75 teams from around the world, who lined the lakeshore, followed suit, in a shower of pink carnations.

Kiwis_at_Gala__dinner.jpgThe hospitality of Peterborough was amazing. The festival participants marched behind their team banners along a parade route lined with the citizens of Peterborough. Even the policemen controlling the intersections liberally added pink to their uniforms. At the end of the parade participants were treated to a barbecue meal and the opening ceremonies, guest performers, and a fireworks display. The following night we attended a gala dinner for 2000 people, addressed by inspirational speakers including Dr Don McKenzie who started the whole breast cancer survivor dragon boating movement. A dance party followed the meal, for the hardy types who can paddle all day, party all night, and paddle all the next day. Some of us can’t and didn’t.  The Pinkies made many new friends and felt it was such a worthwhile experience.

Pink Ribbon Breakfast

Pink_Ribbon_Breakfast_1.JPGPink Dragon Team Captain Paula, very kindly hosted a pink ribbon breakfast/lunch for Pink Dragon team members and friends. The aim of the event was to raise funds for the Cancer Society by purchasing a ticket and merchandise supplied by them.  Paula came up with some interesting food and drink ideas and it was good to get together with team members again. Paula picked a brilliant day and we relaxed out on her deck in the sunshine catching up whilst eating our nibbles and sipping our pink bubbles! Thank you Paula it was great idea.

 

 

Nationals Lake Hood 2010

freezing_cold_Lake_Hood_1.JPGOn arrival at Ashburton the team all met up for a shared meal on Friday evening, a bit of a chat and a few drinks after travelling down throughout the day on different flights. We started out to Lake Hood early morning, and oh my goodness, it was FREEZING!! We spent the whole day trying to keep warm. Such a shame, as the location was perfect but it was so cold it was difficult to really appreciate it. We shivered our way through the races and kept a determined team spirit going as we paddled to the start line for the Breast Cancer final. Another close race, with Pink Dragons coming in fourth, but will only make us more determined to do better next year! After a very touching Flower Ceremony paddlers from other dragon boat teams honoured the breast cancer teams by performing a Huka for us. Saturday evening’s medal ceremony was followed by lots of partying! Sunday morning NZBCF sponsored a wonderful breakfast at The Lake House overlooking Lake Hood and was a fantastic finish to what had been a great weekend – pity about the weather!

 

Lake Pupuke Regionals 2010

Regionals_2010_1.jpgThe day started with the team arriving early to set up camp with our ‘injured’ gazebo (fatally wounded in a gust of wind at Wenderholm). The weather forecast was hopeful, although rain was expected later in the day. The team were raring to go and we raced with enthusiasm throughout the day. We were nearly rammed by another boat and narrowly avoided what could have been a disastrous and embarrassing drenching! The Breast Cancer final was as usual, a close nail biting finish, with Pink Dragons taking bronze this year. It’s been a tough start to the season for the team with quite a turnover of paddlers but we’re back on track now and ready to rock! It was a proud team that received their medals at the evening ceremony and a great incentive for our newbies.

Wenderholm Super 12 Regatta - 2010

shared_lunch.JPGWhat an amazing venue and what a fun packed day was had by all!  The racing started in the morning with boats paddling out from the shore and racing back in to the beach, with the caller jumping off the boat and sprinting to the finish part way up the beach.  In the afternoon the format changed with a paddler from each team sprinting down the beach and jumping into the boat as the team started to paddle away, racing toward the marker bouy, turning and racing back to the beach with the caller jumping off the boat and again sprinting to the finish.  It proved to be a lot of fun.  There was a long break mid-day with each team bringing a shared lunch, followed by fun and games - sack races, jandal throwing and tug-o-war - pity the rope snapped twice!!  By the end of the day everyone was exhausted but they all had a great day's racing.

Hamilton Super 12 Regatta - 2009

A Rookie's take on their first regatta

Warming_up_with_Franco_1.JPGWell I have done it! My first Dragon Boat Regatta since joining the Pink Dragons a month ago. The regatta was held at Hamilton Lake with our first race scheduled for 9.15 in the open competition. We had a group warm-up and then lined up in pairs in the position that we were to be seated on the boat. It was quite funny as it took us time to realise that left was actually right.  As we were two people short we were very pleased when some paddlers from other teams volunteered to race with us throughout the day.

I have to say that I started feeling very nervous before getting into the boat as from the shoreline it looked like a long course. As it was my first time I had no idea what to expect as up until the regatta I had just been concentrating on perfecting the correct paddling technique, then all of a sudden here I was with a team at the start line and then we were racing! It actually felt like we were hardly moving and then the race was over. The greatest shock of all shocks was that we came second. I was shaking as I left the boat but so very exhilarated and all I could think about was how I could improve in the next race.

Race two, three and four came and went so quickly and then race 5 was announced asking all spectators to support all 5 breast cancer survivor teams and everyone came to the shore line.  It was a great race and we came third. As we all came back to the shore line the boats came together for a minutes silence for those that could not join us. The most amazing thing of all is the respect and admiration that all the fellow competitors show towards the breast cancer survivors. A great day but oh my goodness I had better work on my fitness level.

Rookie - Dianne Hansen

 

Mid Winter Super 12 Fun Regatta 

super__12_fun_regatta.jpgOn Saturday 5th September some of the Pink Dragons team turned out, along with a few friends, for a fun regatta held at West Haven. The weather was definitely on our side with a cloudless blue sky creating a back drop for our wonderful city scape. It was a little chilly to say the least early in the day but we soon got warmed up as we started the racing. 

The day was all about having fun and we certainly did that! With the help of a few novice friends, two husbands, a son-in-law and a couple of paddlers seconded from other teams we managed to do ourselves proud, giving the other teams a run for their money.

Rosie_our_youngest_supporter.jpg

After the racing we all gathered at Swashbucklers restaurant for a well earned drink and fish and chip platters. Everyone had a great day and as you can see our youngest supporter, Rosie, had a great day too!

 

 

2008 - 2009 Season

 

Dragon Boat Talk in Whangerei 

Whangarei_Dragon_Boat_Presentation.jpgOn Monday, June 22, Leonie and Robin travelled to Whangarei to speak about Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boating. Last year, an approach was made to the NZBCDBC seeking guidance on the formation of a BCS team in Northland. Robin collaborated with Sue Baker and Kathy Paterson of the Breast Cancer Support Northland Trust to arrange a meeting of interested people to attend a talk given by Robin and Leonie.

After liaising with Robin, the local Whangarei Leader ran an article ahead of the meeting, which gave some publicity for the event. 15 women attended, and the feedback afterwards was very positive. A woman volunteered to coach the team, and other ideas flowed about sponsorship, and boat storage. The NZDBA has offered the use of one of the old boats and a set of paddles.

With such keenness and support, the formation of a Northland team is looking very promising.

Coach's Corner

Soopu reduced.jpgAt the end of 2008 Dragon boat season, Yvonne, team catain, approached me and wanted to know if I was interested to coach "The Pink Dragons". I had to seriously think about it, because here they are, a team of Breast Cancer Survivors, who have already been through a lot. The question I wanted to know was, “how far can I push them”?

After our first training, it was pretty clear from the girls and the message was loud and clear, “Don't make our trainings easy”, and I didn't.

2009 was a learning curve for me as I got to know the team, and the team got used to my training sessions. I promised them at the beginning of the season, they would get medals; what colour would be up to them. My other goal was to get to know everyone's name by the end of the season!

Thanks to Graeme’s coaching over the years, I didn't have to do much with the girls, just a bit of tweaking here and there, and the use of Fred the sea anchor.

We ended this season on a high with two Silver Medals, and I am so proud of what the girls have achieved in our first year together, and the girls are all looking fit and fantastic and we are all looking forward to 2010, as we have unfinished business to take care of.

Bring it on!!!!

End of Season Party

Elain__a_happy_waitress_reduced.jpgThe crowd of black and pink uniforms and excited chatter was further enlivened by pink ribbons and the clink of silver medals as the Pink Dragons gathered for the last time this season. Our generous sponsor, Hammerheads Restaurant & Bar, hosted by team member Paula Sheahan, provided the nibbles and drinks.

We were honoured to welcome most of our other sponsors – Alan Clarke from Abano, Andy and Sue Stuart from Pink Bins, Tony Jeanes from Koru Media, Sue Waugh who illustrated our two successful fundraising books, Heather Shotter from the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, and Rose Love from our website designer Zeald.Com.

Team support comes in many ways, one of which was to provide Rescue Boat services when the official boat was unavailable. Without these willing partners of team members, we would not have been allowed out on the water for training, so we expressed our appreciation for their help.

Our Coach, Sooupu, was presented with a Coach of The Year certificate, and a gift voucher from Paula to return to Hammerheads with his wife and daughter for a relaxing meal together..

Team captain, Yvonne’s, last duty for the season was to award the Team Member of the Year trophy, to Sally Miller and Sue Heyes.

Ascot Radiology Pink Dragons have had a wonderful six months together and are looking forward to the camaraderie, joy, and hard work of another season after the break.

Nationals at Rotorua

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Saturday 28th March marked the end of the seasons paddling with the Nationals being held at the Blue Lake Rotorua and what a stunning venue it was! The team assembled in very good spirits on Friday evening with great enthusiasm for the next days racing.

Saturday morning meant an early breakfast for the team before driving to the venue. With a chilly start to the day the weather was pretty kind to us.

Great racing for our team throughout the day meant we had 2nd choice of lanes for the Breast Cancer Final. It was an awesome race but we couldn’t quite pull off first place with Busting with Life pipping us at the post once again for gold, Pink Dragons taking silver and Abreast of Life taking the bronze.

Once the race was over the breast cancer teams rafted up their boats for the flower ceremony and it was one of the most moving we’ve taken part in. The boats gently drifted towards the shore where many of the corporate teams  were lined up alongside supporters. As the boats came to a halt the boys from the crew loading volunteers surprised us with a moving tribute to the breast cancer paddlers with their haka.

The prize giving and After Party was a noisy and happy one with a great deal of celebrating by all. Sunday morning NZBCDBC organised a wonderful breakfast for all the breast cancer teams and a chance to mingle with other paddlers before the end of another great season!

We'll be back next season with only one thing on our minds GOLD!!!

Lake Pupuke

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Saturday14th March was the North Shore City Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Pupuke, Takapuna.  The team gathered together to a fine but rather chilly start to the day and as ever, full of enthusiasm for the days racing ahead.  Rain dampened the day for a while but it didn't dampen our spirits! 

The 580 metre course was taken in our stride and the Breast Cancer Final produced one of our closest finishes yet with Busting with Life and a nail biting wait for the final results.  Only a fraction of a second meant Busting took the gold, Pink Dragons the silver and Boobops taking the bronze. 

ROTORUA HERE WE COME!!!!

Tauranga Super 12 Regatta

Saturday 14th February

The team started the weekend off by gathering together on Friday for a great social evening. Lots of fun and a few drinks over a shared dinner kick-started the weekend on a good note. 

Shared_Dinner_1_1.jpgIt was an early start to Saturday in readiness for the races ahead. There was some drizzly rain to start with but thankfully the sky cleared and gave us a brilliant day for racing (unlike last year!). 

  

Our team consisted of 5 rookies, 8 experienced paddlers and 2 team members with broken wrists! Racing went well throughout the day giving us third place in the breast cancer final. The day came to a close with prize giving followed by a much needed rest before heading off for a team meal at a local restaurant. We’re all looking forward now to the next regatta in Auckland!


Book Sales

milford_book_sales_1.JPGNovember 2008 saw the launch of our book 'Percy the Pink Dragon Boat' Sales have gone incredibly well so far and the feed back from people has been very positive.

To kick start the sales and to take advantage of Christmas we spent four days at Milford Shopping Centre with team members manning a stall.  It was great talking to people about Pink Dragons and what the team is all about.  We're definitely on track to make much needed funds for both the team and Kenzie's Gift through the sale of the books.

Christmas BBQ

team_bbq_1.JPGTo celebrate the end of 2008 some of the team and their partners got together for a BBQ hosted by one of our rookies. The location was fantastic as was the weather. Everybody helped out providing the food and drink making for a wonderful spread. 

After lunch some of us relaxed while others burnt off a few calories exploring the grounds and taking in some of the bush walks surrounding the house. It was a great opportunity to get together off the water and have fun and to get to know some of the Rookies a little better. Thanks to Lisa for the opportunity it couldn’t have been a better end to 2008 training!

Hamilton Super 12 Regatta - 2008

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 November 29th saw the first regatta for the season the Hamilton super 12. Hamilton provided it’s best possible weather for the day and what a day we had! Most of our Rookies came along to sample first hand what it’s like to paddle under race conditions. The feed back from them was that it was ‘awesome’.   We raced throughout the day along side both corporate and breast cancer teams and as usual there was great support shown for all the breast cancer teams.

A minutes silence was held before the Breast cancer final in remembrance of all those who had lost their lives to the disease. In the final Boobops took first place closely followed by Busting with Life with Pink Dragons taking third . Altogether it was a very successful day and we look forward to the 2009 regattas.
 

2007/2008 Season wrap-up

 

From Tracey Richardson - Rookie Paddler

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The 2007/2008 dragon boating season was one of improvement and friendship for the Pink Dragons. I was one of five rookies to join the team at the beginning of the season and was blown away by the warmth and support from the existing team members.

 

We started the season out with the Tiger Beer Regatta in Auckland in February with five of us getting a taste for the competitive element of the sport. We then braved the wind and rain at the Tauranga Super 12 competition in March and made a fun-weekend of it with team-building activities and the joys of road trips and shared accommodation.

We were thrilled with our performance at the Nationals in Auckland in March and felt the improvement we made throughout the season was due to hard work and good leadership.

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Tric , Graeme, Yvonne (our on- the-land trainer), Lynn (Paddler of the Year) and Robin (Team Leader)

We bid farewell to our coach Graeme Rountree and team original Tric Nelson who are off to the Mainland and awarded Lynn Simons with our ‘Paddler of the Year’ award.

 

Off the water, we took part in the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and lots of fundraising walks/runs which improved our personal fitness and team camaraderie. Motivating, fun and supportive!

 

To all the breast cancer survivors reading this article who may be thinking about the possibility of joining a breast cancer dragon boating team – my response would be GO FOR IT!!

There are teams all around the country, with new ones being formed every year. It’s fun, good for you and you’ll meet some great personalities!! On the water trainings at Westhaven on a summer’s morning are magic. It’s open to all ages, body shapes and sizes and fitness levels, it’s inclusive and all about celebrating life, we deserve it!

So what’s in store for the Pink Dragons in 2008/2009? We are excited to be welcoming a new coach; our Team Captain Yvonne Dunn has fitness schedules typed up and ready to go. Currently we’re hibernating but building up for the upcoming season…. anything is possible!!

If you’d like to become a member of the Pink Dragon’s Dragon Boating Team in Auckland please contact Robyn Gamble Ph 630 6423

Tauranga Super 12 Regatta - 2008

It was fabulous fun and we rookies loved it. Thanks to Robin for organizing it and thanks to Janet for feeding us and thanks to Tric and Elaine for leading us . The weather was awful, but we were all keen as mustard to get out there.

My room mate was so enthusiastic about the regatta that she got up at 3.45am and was trotting off to the shower thinking it was 6am.

We raced hard, enjoyed our mixing and mingling of positions in the boat (care of Graeme) and were THRILLED to get second in the Breast Cancer final.

Yes, there were some celebratory drinks consumed and Coyote’s bar was rocking for the prize giving on Saturday afternoon. Some of us (no names) hadn’t eaten much, so the alcohol content of each drink was somewhat increased…. We were given towels instead of silver medals… interesting….. One party animal team mate crashed and burned at 7.30pm and was walked back to the hostel before she’d even eaten.

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One picture says it all

Meanwhile back at the restaurant, the team was posing for a photo and one team mate decided she wanted her good side to be photographed. She climbed over the pedestal table and it flipped, yes, broken glass, red wine up the walls, salt and pepper everywhere… yee haa!!! Another team mate got a phone call on her mobile and was walking outside to take the call when she decided to be John Travolta and do the disco splits on the floor of the restaurant. The rest of the night was uneventful with a lovely meal consumed and cups of tea drank back at the hostel.

We were rudely awoken at 6.50am the next morning by the wailing fire alarm and all got to check out each others night attire (and the other backpackers) as we stood outside for 15 minutes while the firemen ‘cleared’ the building…..

Did the above involve any of the rookies…..? maybe…… was there mention of a ‘rookie contract and approval process’ being written up…. perhaps……. Did I steal Sue team shirt…. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

 

2006/2007 season

 

By Robin Gamble – our Team Leader

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Up and racing against Breast Cancer Teams - Tiger Beer Regatta Auckland

We are the second breast cancer dragon boating team in Auckland, and the sixth team in New Zealand. We began as a mixed team in 2005 with the help of a number of non-breast cancer survivor paddlers, but became 100% breast cancer survivors for the 2006-07 season.

 

We participated in a fun festival at Takapuna Beach, and competed in the Tauranga Super 12’s, but it was at the Auckland Festival and the Nationals in Christchurch where we rewarded our coach and ourselves by achieving our best times yet.

We also found travelling together as a team a great bonding experience. We had so much fun, and ended the paddling season on a high note.

 

We suffered some withdrawal pangs once our regular contact with each other was put on hold, but we heeded coach Graeme's advice that, for the success of the team, we really needed to take a break over winter.

 

Our mission is to show our fellow breast cancer survivors that life is for living! After being swept along in the process of diagnosis, surgery, treatment, medication and supervision, we could feel rather helpless. Participation in this physically demanding sport has been empowering. We have benefitted from learning new skills, improving our fitness, feeling positive, and being part of a wonderful support group working together to achieve a goal.

  

Coaches Corner

This season I have seen a group of paddlers grow into a team of paddlers. A team that now knows how to paddle as one unit to the best of their ability.

The Tauranga Super 12 regatta was a good warm up and it is fair to say that it showed off a number of our weaknesses. It was however a good team bonding exercise and invaluable to get to where we are now.

 

At the Auckland regatta our paddling was much improved at times although we were still looking for consistency. Then there was the final and something clicked in the team and we paddled a near perfect race. We also picked up our first ever placing in a regatta with a well-deserved 3rd betting Treasure Chests by a massive 0.62 seconds.

 

The following weekend it was down to the nationals in Christchurch.

My main concern in the lead up to this regatta was again consistency.

Race 1,

I asked for a good steady paddle and got it along with a reasonable time.

Race 2, 3, 4 & 5,

Same as above however by race 3 I was now aware that the group of paddlers that made up the team were now a team of paddlers and that nothing was going to stand in their way of pushing hard and achieving the best they could.

 

There was however nothing else we could have given or done on the day but the team deserve to hold their heads high, stand tall and be very proud of what we have accomplished this year.

 

Yes a 4th at the nationals can be a hard pill to swallow however there was nothing else we could have done to improve on this on the day. Graeme Roundtree

  

By an anonymous Rookie

The paddling idea was introduced soon after the completion of my treatment and it required some consideration. Surely the healthiest thing to do at this point in my life was to move on and not link up with a ‘breast cancer’ group. However the lure of getting into some regular activity again, saw me turn up at Okahu Bay one Sunday afternoon. I was introduced to Jane, Beth and Maggie – or was that Mary, Sue and Lola and they all had their ‘pink caps’ - hmmmm! This (youngish) guy who introduced himself as the coach was so enthusiastic and I couldn’t for the life of me fathom why he would want to work with a matured group of woman. But he did seem to make some sense when talking about ‘core strength’ (couldn’t wait to see his 6-pack once he shed his winter layers of clothes!!). So there it started and I diligently did my exercises for 2 days!

 

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First time paddling for a couple of Rookies

First paddle! Nervously turned up on time, more new faces and we were lined up and randomly placed in the boat. Slight sense of excitement whilst observing the Piha boat crew along side us. Right from the word go we had the ‘timing and technique’ message explained, said again, reiterated and repeated – for mature people, it struck me that we were very slow learners. The good thing is that I did really enjoy the first experience and knew I would be back for more – even after shivering away after practice while the coach regurgitated ‘that’ message. And no, I didn’t remember the name of the woman I was sitting next to. (That was me Sue)

 

First Regatta! Takapuna loomed before I even felt we were out of nappies. Three words to describe that day. Wet, intimidating, frustrating. But we PD’s stuck together and there was a sense of some team bonding happening AND I got a pink cap. So nice to get back to training on the Tuesday night afterwards with all the familiar faces.

 

First Real Regatta! Auckland. Now this was really nervous energy stuff. The first race was awesome and so good to get out of the way. According to Graham we were OK. I don’t think OK stacks up in any of our books and we really wanted to prove to ourselves (and the other breast cancer teams) that we are a force to be reckoned with. The first breast cancer race came and went and the entrenched timing and technique was evidently not on our boat for that one - photos prove we were not within kuwee of the other three teams. Gutted! (I was quietly confident that we would ‘kick ass’!)

 

To add insult to injury, I experienced my first flower ceremony. WOW! I don’t think ‘How Great Thou Art’ was the best choice of words to paddle down the viaduct with but, AJ, how great thou art for standing up and speaking so well on our behalf. It was so amazing to be a part of this and having my family there to share the occasion was incredibly special. The final was very uplifting (always welcome when you’re talking breasts, especially ours) and was proof that we were past the crawling and able to stand on our own feet and ‘mix it’ with the other bc teams. A triumph for Pink Dragons.

 

First Nationals! Christchurch. Visualise this. Sitting in a boat on a lake which is as still as a mill-pond, absolute blue skies above and dragon flies flitting around beside you. Despite the criteria to be eligible to sit in that boat with 19 other amazing women and a coach who can be a bit gruff on the out-side but has a pretty big heart (and a 6-pack somewhere), you can’t help but think ‘Life is Good’. Sunday was a great day, really good for us as a team and I look forward to more days of that nature – but with some more metal and / wood to show for our efforts now that we are ready to run with it. I believe I now know everyone’s name and I wear my pink cap with pride. everyone, you’re t’rific.

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Racing in Christchurch at the Nationals

 

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Team gathering in Christchurch prior to the Nationals

 

 

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER”

 

Robin’s Dragon Boating in Canada

 

In July of this year I visited Victoria, BC Canada, to spend time with my daughter, her fiance, and my extended family. When making my plans I noticed the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival coincided with my dates, so happily marked the event in my diary, intending to enjoy a great couple of days of entertainment.

 

As an afterthought, I contacted the local breast cancer survivor team, The Island Breaststrokers, to ask if I might meet some of them, and watch their training from the shore, promising to cheer them on on the day. My contact turned out to be the most charming, friendly and hospitable woman who became my “buddy”, Clare. “Don’t just stand and watch”, said Clare. “We often have a spare seat on the boat. Come paddle with us”.

 

Well, you know, one thing leads to another…

 

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Robin second paddler from right enjoying the Gorge Festival on board with the Island Breaststrokers

 

I attended two training sessions with the Island Breaststrokers, and managed to keep up with their powerful paddlers, which was a great relief, as I had been in hibernation from dragon boating in New Zealand for several months, since our own season finished at the end of March. After the second training session, I was asked “So what are you doing on Saturday?” Unknown to me, an annual One Day festival is held at The Gorge (a waterway which forms part of Victoria Harbour), one week before the 2 day festival I planned to attend, and my “New Best Friends” were a paddler short. The diary was consulted, a few plans were changed, and I presented myself for duty at the appointed hour. “No pressure”, but I learned The Island Breaststrokers were the world champions in the Breast Cancer Division at Singapore in 2006! We easily beat the other 5 breast cancer teams to win MY FIRST GOLD MEDAL. With that race under our belts, we then competed in the Women’s Open Division and picked up a bronze medal. I was delivered home, damp, but on a high, having assisted the IBS team to their fastest time, ever, in a Breast Cancer Survivors Grand Final. The home-coming Olympic athletes at Auckland airport weren’t the only people with a bunch of medals clanking around their necks!

 

The following weekend, the IBS expected to muster a full crew, but had suggested I ask the festival organisers to find me another team to paddle with. Thus, chameleon-like, I dressed in the colours of The Pink Piston Paddlers from Salmon Arm, BC, and acquired another set of New Best Friends. Again, I was impressed by their friendliness and their genuine interest in a visitor from New Zealand. I picture a bridge between NZ and Canada, across which Kiwis and Canucks cross easily into each other’s countries, finding kindred spirits in both places. It seems every Canadian I meet has either been to NZ, has had a life-long dream to visit, or knows someone living in NZ. I was the happy recipient of souvenir t shirts, team pins, photos of my new teams, and a beautiful medal given to every breast cancer paddler, sponsored by the BC Cancer Foundation of Vancouver Island.

 

The summer weather was brilliantly fine, the atmosphere of the Festival venue was electric, with the crowds of competitors and spectators milling amongst the tents of vendors and the stages of the entertainers. We did our Warm Ups to music, and were all marshalled for our races in a most methodical way.

 

The Pink Piston Paddlers made up for their lack of experience (being a team of only 3 seasons) by being colourful, not only in their peacock blue and orange dragon emblazoned shirts, but by their humour and penchant for bursting into song or chant at the drop of a hat. Quite the entertainers. We didn’t win any medals, but we enjoyed our races, giving our best efforts to finish a creditable fourth in the Breast Cancer Grand Final.

 

The night before the Victoria Festival, all the breast cancer teams were hosted to a lovely meal organised by the Island Breaststrokers. There were raffles, skits and dancing, along with a “trade table”. Raising funds is a universal goal for all teams, and I made a few mental notes of ideas I could bring home to the Pink Dragons.

 

Oh, and I also had a marvellous visit with my family!

 

http://www.islandbreaststrokers.com/

 

http://www.pinkpistonpaddlers.ca/

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