PADDLER: Thea Kennedy of the Rainbow Dragons, dragon boat team at Shaws Bay, Ballina.
PADDLER: Thea Kennedy of the Rainbow Dragons, dragon boat team at Shaws Bay, Ballina. Patrick Gorbunovs

Teamwork key to dragon boat success

THESE days it doesn't take much to promote a dragon boat race, what with all the popularity surrounding the ever-growing sport.

But the weekend's first inter-club regatta for local crew The Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club kept a dedicated band of paddlers busy organising what will become a regular gig on the smooth waters of Ballina's Shaws Bay.

What began as a perfect way to drain the lymph glands of post breast-cancer survivors has turned into a popular water sport for both sexes of all ages, as the regatta proved.

There were more paddles than you could poke a stick at and everywhere you looked there were contestants in sticky-bum pants, designed to provide maximum torque with minimal slip.

But all the competitors agreed that the trick to winning is timing, technique and teamwork.

East Ballina resident Thea Kennedy joined the Rainbow girls only 18 months ago and yet she has taken her participation all the way to the national titles, winning that race with a North Coast crew that included eight other Rainbow Region paddlers.

"I used to ride a horse as a competitor," said the Yorkshire-born lass. "I'm not what you'd call an athlete. But this is a mental thing. I like to put in my 110% and give it my best shot."

Sue Olive is a 10-year survivor of breast cancer and started paddling with the Rainbow girls before moving to Coffs Harbour last year.

Now she wears the col- ours of that club and has come to Ballina to compete, along with groups from the Clarence Coast and Grafton.

"With dragon boats there is camaraderie, they're fun and they get you fit," she said.



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