NAROOMA Blue Water Dragons joined with South Coast partners, Sapphire Water Dragons, to form the Blue Sapphires and to take on the Bei Loon Dragon Boat Club's annual 8.9 km paddle around Scotland Island.
The event is a time trial and this year eight Dragon Boat clubs from around NSW travelled to Bay View on Sydney's Northern Beaches to test themselves against the clock and a summer heat wave that had hit the state just in time for the paddle.
Temperatures in the mid-30s were going to make the paddle difficult and Blue Water Dragons' strokes, Jane Mansergh and Sue Seath, who were taking part in their first distance event, were given the task of setting the paddling rate for the Blue Sapphires crew.
The event was run in two heats with four boats in each heat, starting at 30 second intervals. The Blue Sapphires were the first boat out. Jane and Sue kicked off with a cracking pace that the crew maintained throughout the whole 8km.
Only one crew in the heat, Penrith's Pendragons, who ended up with the third best time in the event, passed the Blue Sapphires. The South Coast crew rallied and closed in on the Pendragons' boat but couldn't catch them before the finish line.
The heat had taken its toll on all paddlers, who went for a swim to cool off as soon as they'd disembarked but exhaustion turned to elation when the times were announced.
The Blue Sapphires had smashed last years’ time of 56 minutes 40 seconds by a whopping seven minutes to set a new personal best time of 49 minutes 45 seconds.
The team also took out the Regional Challenge trophy and edged out friendly rivals, Nature Coast Dragon Boat Club from Moruya. Sue Seath, who had never stroked in a race before said, “It was amazing how people from different clubs who share a passion for paddling can unite to achieve an incredible result. We all performed beyond our expectations!”
The Blue Sapphires' success in their first distance event was put down to the way Blue Water Dragons and Sapphire Water Dragons have gelled as a team and also to Blue Water Dragons' coach, Leck Swaddling, who favours endurance training which builds strength and endurance but is kind to paddlers' bodies. Thanks to Gilly Kearney, club captain, for organising a great fun weekend.
Anyone who'd like to try Dragon Boating socially or to represent Narooma, call Kathryn or Peter on 4476 3952 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Narooma Blue Water Dragons, looking good having fun!