Paddle for Life teams (ABOL and Amazon Hearts) aim to compete at all local (Canterbury) regatta, including those in North, Mid Canterbury and Banks Peninsula.
We also travel to other locations in New Zealand, and to overseas regatta in Australia, Canada, Italy, America or other locations.
Dates for the domestic season are typically:
Spring Regatta at the Avon River late September
Corporate "Give it a Go" day in early November
Ice Breaker Regatta, Sunday in November at Lake Rua
Akaroa 10s event on in January or February at Childrens Bay, Akaroa
Aoraki Open - Sunday in January or February at the Avon River
South Island Champs, - Saturday mid March at Lake Hood
Nationals are at Lake Karapiro on Friday and Saturday in late March or
the first week in April.
See www.aoraki-dragons.co.nz for the current dates
On Race Day
Race days can start as early as 8 am, and you need to be at the lake AT LEAST 30 minutes earlier 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 is 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 and life jacket 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 Drummer (Caller) is the last to load. There 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 goes 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 lost 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.