Rain didn’t quench the fire in the Rainbow Region Dragons recently when they paddled in the Chinese New Year Dragon Boat Regatta, a highlight of the dragon boating season, where these spectacular 12 metre long boats, flamboyantly decorated to feature the head and tail of the dragon, battle it out on the waters of Cockle Bay in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ceremonial tradition, with dragons traditionally believed to be the rulers of rivers, lakes and seas, dominating the clouds, mists and rains from heaven. Each boat is large enough to seat 20 people with a sweep to steer and a drummer pounding loudly above the thrashing oars and cheering spectators. The paddlers in the Rainbow Dragons come from the Ballina, Byron and Lismore local government areas.
Despite the wild weather conditions on Friday February 22 wreaking havoc with travel plans, most of the team arrived in Sydney on Friday night, after a day of diversions, uncertainty and waiting around. Some of their strongest paddlers were stranded in Ballina with no flights available and were unable to attend.
The Masters Women’s team on Saturday, with two paddlers down, won the race start in the first heat. A fourth place in their final heat demonstrated that they were able to keep pace with the frontrunners, showing they were formidable opponents. This was even more evident with the Masters Open team, which was up against some teams comprising nearly all men (RRDBC only had two male paddlers). They were therefore justifiably proud of their fourth place finish in the second heat, nudging out two other boats.
Sunday morning saw RRDBC entering a team of 16 in the Cancer Survivors event. Despite being four paddlers short, the team earned high praise for its excellent teamwork, timing and focus. They were the fourth fastest team in the heats, winning a spot in the Major Final, where they shaved two seconds off their previous times.
New paddlers are welcome to join the Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club, which trains at Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head. Phone Juliette Sizer on 0421 550 335 for more information.