First they take NZ, then the world
A dragon boating team of breast cancer survivors is looking for new paddlers as it chases a new goal of competing internationally.
Wellington’s Cansurvive crew, which includes four Porirua women, won gold and silver medals at the dragon boating nationals on Lake Hood, Ashburton, recently.
Paddler Marlene Solomon, a former breast health nurse who survived a cancer scare herself, said that at the Wellington event, in a field of Cansurvive crews that included two teams from Australia, the locals gained a third place.
‘‘We knew we’d have to step up our efforts [at the next event] in Auckland.’’
That’s exactly what they did, taking silver in the 500m final and gold in the 200m sprint. It was a great effort because foul weather was chopping up Lake Pupuke badly.
One open adult crew was involved in an ugly capsize earlier in the day, so organisers insisted the usual teams of 20 paddlers, plus sweep and drummer, had to be reduced to 16.
At the nationals in Ashburton, against the five best Cansurvive crews in the country, the Wellingtonians repeated their success – another 200m gold and 500m silver.
Ms Solomon said the sprints seemed to suit the local team, perhaps because their practice and racing course on Wellington harbour was the relatively short distance between the Life Flight helicopter pad and The Heketia.
Nevertheless the local paddlers, who are aged 42 to 69, also took on a two-kilometre race at Ashburton.
‘‘We went a bit off course but we finished. Now we know what we need to do next time.’’
Porirua crew member Ngawai Richardson said the crew were ‘‘absolutely whacked’’ after the event but the exhilaration made up for it.
She said the crew had moulded well together, both on and off the water. They do aqua aerobics together and are considering the Wellington half-marathon.
The crew lost one or two members a year to cancer, said Ms Richardson, and the crew had honoured them with a new banner.
The sport was a great way to stay fit, healthy and motivated, she said, and they were always on the lookout for new talent.
‘‘You get hooked once you’ve started.’’
The other Porirua crew members are Sonja Young, Marianna Robati and Frances Pedro.
Their coach Dave Elliott was full of praise for his paddlers.
‘‘They’re an amazing group of committed women, rising above the challenges to achieve a greater purpose in their lives.’’
The women are now planning to take the team to the international BC Regatta happening in Florida, United States, in October 2014.
Check out facebook.com/canSurvivenz or sportsground.co.nz/ cansurvive or contact them via cansurvivedragonboatteam @ gmail. com. Sponsors are also most welcome.
Survive and prosper: The Wellington Hutt Cansurvive breast cancer dragonboaters have finished the season with gold and silver medals from the nationals.