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Paddle for Life

Christchurch's Premier Womens Dragonboat Club for Breast Cancer Survivors and supporters

"Paddle for Life" comprises of two teams of dragon boat paddlers living in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The “Abreast of Life” team is a group of breast cancer survivors and the “Amazon Hearts” are their sister team.

Abreast of Life (ABOL)

The sport of Dragon Boat paddling for breast cancer survivors was started in 1996 in Vancouver, Canada.

New Zealand were earlier adopters of breast cancer dragon boating and Abreast of Life was the second team to be formed in New Zealand in 1999. 

Dragon boat paddling has been proven to be incredibly good exercise for those women and men with a diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer. Repetitive upper body exercise not only helps to prevent lymphoedema but in many cases can cause symptoms to abate. 

Our team members come from all walks of life we are all different shapes and sizes and we range in age from early thirties to late 70s. The one thing that we do have in common and which binds us in a very special way is a diagnosis and treatment for cancer. 

We believe that by participating in Dragon boat paddling that we can reclaim what we lost with our diagnosis. We share in and incredible comradery. We are not a support group, but we are very empathetic of each other and for us each day is another brilliant day. 

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    Amazon Hearts
"Premier Woman's"

Amazon Hearts started as a sister team to "Abreast of Life" ABOL - friends and family came together to not only enjoy and participate in dragon boating but also to support breast cancer survivors. A few of our team members have supported ABOL at their International Breast Cancer Paddling Committee (IBCPC) events in Florence 2018 and Lake Karapiro 2023 - what an amazing experience!


We join ABOL over winter for Saturday trainings and are never too far away at regattas. Since the creation of Amazons, we have worked to develop into an independent woman's team who currently compete in the Premier Woman's Division. We are a very competitive team with the options of training up to three days a week at a choice of three different venues. When we're not training we are quite social, meeting for coffee after Saturday training and we like to take advantage of any away regattas, staying and making a social weekend of the event.


We are always recruiting! We want to build our team and the sport of dragon boating. Join us as a paddler, sweep or caller - we will support you to get you where you want to be in our boat. 

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Paddle for Life Board 

President/Chair: Dorothy McPhail

ABOL reps: Carmel Hurley-Watts, Janice Melville, Suzy McLachlan

Amazon Hearts reps: Karen Lloyd-Griffiths, Kay Johns and Amanda Chamberlain

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