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Caloundra Dragon boat Nationals 2011

Three paddlers from Abreast of Life (ABOL) dragon boat team joined a team of very enthusiastic paddlers and supporters in Caloundra for the National dragon boat Regatta in early September 2011.

The team included Helen Burzacott, Helen Dorning, Kay Kilmartin, Rhonda Sherwood, Anne Stowe and Margaret Van Berkel(all from Ballarat); Judith Bell-Towers, Toni Borrett, Kathy Collins, Sharon Holt, Victoria Horner, Sandra Knight, Pru Menzies, Maggie Moulds, Mim Tielen and Ali Sutton(from Melbourne) and... Jillian Broadbent, Anita Thompson and Meri Gibson from ABOL.

We were also fortunate to have along, a group of very faithful supporters from all three teams: Julie Hunnybell, Maria Tielen, Ruth Speirs, Ron Borrett and Conway Knight. Meri was unable to paddle so she was either running around as a supporter or sitting on the "princess" seat as a caller.

People were arriving on the beautiful Sunshine Coast from Wednesday onwards and all was looking gloriously promising weather wise when we went along to sign in and collect our goodie bags on Thursday!

Friday morning bright and early, some of our team headed off to their chosen workshop, (coaching, sweeping or drumming) whilst the rest of us headed out to Kawana Waters for some fun activities (yoga, tai chi and zumba).

The majority of us thought we would give Zumba a go! We joined a huge group of excited Zumbadians and were greeted by three gorgeous, fit, experienced, young Zumbadians on the back of a semi with their music at the ready.

The music started pumping and we were off… some more than others! It wasn’t long till the hysterics could be heard near and far!! We pumped, stepped, shook, shimmied, and flapped our way through a number of songs. People passing by on foot, in cars, in buses and even truckies all gave us a wave or shout of encouragement as about 100 Zumbadians did their thing on the banks of the river. Fortunately for some, the rain started and our Zumba session had to come to an early end. We all thought we might die laughing if we didn’t stop soon.

We are hoping that if we slip our photographer the right number of the right colored notes you may never have to see any incriminating photos…

After that we were ready to start the day’s racing events which was a round robin knockout event. Each heat started with 4 teams who raced the 200mt course, the team who came last were out, and the remaining 3 boats turned around and raced back 200mt in the other direction. Again at the end the team that came last was out and the final 2 teams had to race back leaving one team winning.

The first heat went off as the sky darkened and the wind was whipping up into a frenzy.

Our team was in the second heat and we headed off in almost gale force winds and paddled our first leg of the race. Not sure where we came because we only had “eyes in the boat” (it was too blustery to see) but we were not last and were still in the event. As we turned around to head back the organizers had to call off the whole event due to the almost mini tornado that whipped through uplifting several of the marquees and sending people scurrying!!

Fortunately no one was hurt, but that was the end of our fun day of racing, we were drowned rats, freezing cold, so much for sunny Queensland. The buses promptly arrived to take us all back to the warmth of our rooms and the chill of the beverages awaiting us.

The next day, Saturday we were all shuttled out to the race site again. This time the sun was shining on and off but the wind was still ridiculous! The marquees were not allowed up because they were expecting some strong gusts… and we got them.

Racing began, we had our first event and unfortunately had a little wee mishap and almost collected the team in the lane beside us. The day continued and we had a couple more heats but the wind really was shocking.

Just before lunch we had the Race of Remembrance followed by the Flowers on the Water Ceremony which required the boats to be held on the edge of the water so they wouldn’t all get blown to Brisbane!! The ceremony was beautiful despite the weather.

After lunch were the finals, we were in the mini minor finals and ended up third and were a happy a bunch of windblown paddlers!!!

After a whole group photo and helping to put the boats on trailers we were all free to go back to our rooms and prepare for the Gala dinner!!! Some ‘galas’ decided to have pre gala drinks.. , then we were off to the dinner in all our finery.

The dinner was fantastic, the food delicious and the band was great! We wined, dined and danced the night away.

All in all we had a fantastic time in Caloundra despite the weather.

Another memorable weekend away! Lots of laughs and good times were had. For those of you that couldn’t be there, you were always in our hearts and minds!! Paddles up and see you all soon!!!

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