The rhythm of a dragon drum

PADDLING a dragon boat is all about listening to the beat of the drum.

"You've got to keep in time," the publicity manager for Rainbow Region Dragon Boating Club, Ms Annola McQuade, told The Northern Star.

"There's a drummer who drums while you paddle."

Dragon boating and racing has been around for thousands of years but an organised international competition began in Hong Kong in 1976.

The sport was later adopted by Canada, where breast cancer survivors did it to aid recovery.

It has a lot in common with rowing.

"Once (people) have had treatment for breast cancer, the muscles in the shoulders and chest are weakened, so paddling is a great way to strengthen them," Ms McQuade said.

In 2004, the sport's healing capabilities caught the attention of local breast cancer survivors who formed Rainbow Dragons Abreast and incorporated the sport into their recovery schedules.

Now the organisation is called Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club and its members have kept the sport's distinct Asian aspects at the fore.

A drummer accompanies them on every voyage.

While most members are aged between 30 and 50, anyone over 18 can join the club - they don't have to be a breast cancer survivor.

"One lady I know is 70," Ms McQuade said.

"She's a breast cancer survivor and she loves to get out there and paddle."

Ms McQuade urged younger people to get involved too.

"We need all the muscle we can get," she said.

The club has mixed, men's and women's categories, and regularly travels around Australia to compete.

However, you don't have to be a fierce competitor to join and Ms McQuade said the most important thing was to have fun.

The club will hold a "come and try day" at Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head, on Sunday.

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