SPECTATORS might think dragon boating doesn't require much technique but ask anyone who actually paddles the 220kg racing vessels and they would beg to differ.
"It takes probably about three years to get the technique right," Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club president Mary Davis said.
"They key is to get every-one to hit the water at the same time.
"It is a whole-body work-out if you do the stroke properly."
The Lennox Head-based club hosted its second annual regatta at Ballina's Shaws Bay at the weekend with 18 teams coming from as far as the Sunshine Coast and Coffs Harbour to compete.
On Saturday crews contested a 1km "chase race" with each boat setting off at intervals and aiming to catch the crew ahead.
One well-drilled team from the Gold Coast managed to do just that, running down the crew in front of them and taking line honours by half a length.
The main racing events were contested yesterday with women, men and mixed crews competing in a knockout round of 200m sprints.
Dragon boating has become popular with women recovering from breast cancer as scientific research has proven that the activity reduces lymphedema, a swelling of the arms common to breast cancer survivors.
But it's also just good, social fun, according to Rainbow Region club member Marie Masters.
"I just recently retired so it's a good way to exercise and meet people," she said.
"It's also about camaraderie and teamwork."
The Rainbow Region club, which trains on Lake Ainsworth four times a week, was started by a breast cancer survivor group and now has 52 male and female members from all backgrounds ranging in age from 25 to 73.
The club tours to up to eight regattas up and down the east coast each year and Ms Davis said this year's home regatta was substantially bigger than last year.
"It's grown really well and we've got interest from Queensland which we didn't have last year," she said
"Tell people if they want to get fit and healthy, come dragon boating.
"And if you've got a competitive spirit, you've got lots of opportunities to compete too.
"We're always chasing men for the mixed events."