Regatta are held at a variety of paddling venues, including:
- Kerr's Reach on the Avon River, in Dallington
- Pegasus Lake, just north of Woodend
- Lake Hood, just east of Tinwald, Ashburton
Races include the:
- Ice Breaker in the first week of December (usually at Kerr's Reach)
- Early Bird in late February
- South Island Championships in early March.
- Nationals, which alternate between the North Island (typically Blue Lake near Rotorua) and South Island (typically Lake Hood, Ashburton).
Race days start around 9.00am and you need to be at the lake by 8.30am to make sure you are ready and organised.
We generally have four to five races on the day with approximately one hour between races.
Items you will need for race days include (but is not limited to) your paddle, own chair, food - snack and lunch, plenty to drink, both hot and cold, hat, sunscreen, dry warm clothing to put on between races, race uniform, polyprops, towels, dress uniform for the after race function.
The coach selects the team based on what they consider the best team for the race.
The team assembles 20-30 minutes before race start, and walks in boat formation to the warm-up area where the team captain will take us through our warm up sequence. You need to have your paddle, knee pad and life jacket (if wearing one) with you at this time.
Ten minutes before race start we proceed in boat formation to the crew assembly point and await directions to load. Lanes and boats are drawn by ballot, so you need to be prepared to paddle an unfamiliar boat (although they are all 'made from the same mould').
If loading from a beach (that is, not a ponton) the back of the boat loads first, Sweep first then Row 10 (the furthest back 2 paddlers) and so on up the boat to the Stroke Pair and finally the Drummer. This needs to be done quietly, quickly and efficiently. Be seated as quickly as possible with paddles flat on the water to help hold the boat in a stable position while the rest of the team gets seated. The Drumme (caller) is the last to load. Ther is a number board on the bow to indicate racing lane.
Once loaded the Sweep is in command and eyes and ears are in our boat only. We paddle out to the race start line and line up in our lane. As soon as we are in position in our lane everyone is focussed and has paddles at attention. The two or four back paddlers will generally control the position of the boat under instructions from the sweep. The Race Starter commands are "Are You Ready?" then "Attention!" then the race hooter to start.
A very special part of breast cancer survivor dragon boat racing is the flower ceremony at the end of racing. All boats racing in this division join together on the water for a ceremony of remembrance for all those women and men who have succumbed to this insidious disease.
All the other teams join in on the land as well to pay tribute to the brave and courageous people who gave their lives to cancer. The race announcer sets the scene, then as silence descends on paddlers and public alike, the survivors cast their flowers to the water amidst much emotion, hugs and tears. It brings a lump to the throat of anyone who has ever taken part in or witnessed this most moving ceremony.
Click here to read our introductory booklet.