International trip for dragon boat crew

Forbes Dragon Boat club members Nicole Williams, Claire Davis and Neil May have recently returned from a hosted trip to China where they competed in three regattas over 19 days.

The three members joined the Canberra Ice Dragons to become one of six international teams invited by the Chinese International Dragon Boat Festival Committee.

The Canberra Ice Dragons was made up of 38 members from Canberra, Dubbo, Forbes, Orange, Mudgee, Mt Beauty, Sydney and the Illawarra.

The international teams came from England, Hong Kong, Bangladesh as well as the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne.

The first regatta was the Haohe River International Dragon Boat Invitational Tournament located at Nantong.

Neil May said everyone did well under the circumstances, and the difficulties in getting a good start due to the language barrier.

Mr May said that there was an estimated 50,000 people watching the regatta from the bridges and lining the shores on their first day.

The next regatta was set to take place at Tongren in central China, but was cancelled at the last minute.

Instead, the Canberra Ice Dragons travelled to Foshan, near Guangzhou on an overnight 18-hour train trip to compete in a local regatta.

"In Foshan we competed at a local regatta in Jiujiang which is the training base for the Chinese National Women's Dragon Boat Team," Mr May said.

The international teams competed in several races over the day, which were sprints over 300m.

Mr May said that while both the men and women did well against the other International teams, their teams provided little competition against very professional and strong Chinese teams.

Nicole Williams said the team did well under the circumstances.

"We were not deterred by the heat and the 90% humidity or the dead cat floating by on the start line."

During the event the Canberra Ice Dragons were the only international team to win a medal.

The final destination was Guangzhou (Canton) on the busy Pearl River where the Ice Dragons competed in The Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Invitational Tournament. This was the largest regatta on the itinerary with 125 men's and 20 women's teams competing over a distance of 600m.

Mr May said conditions on river were tricky due to the tidal nature of the Pearl River which is tidal - with the tide against the race direction in the morning.

"The men's race at the Guangzhou regatta was one of the toughest I have paddled in. The current, wind and lane draw was all against us."

Mr May said the women did well at the Guangzhou regatta, making it to the B Final.

This regatta also had the 100-man boats racing over the 600m, which Mr May said was incredible to watch, with how quickly they get up to speed.

Mr May said the tour was a fantastic opportunity to experience dragon boating where it began and to meet with other paddlers from around the world.

"Our three Lachlan Dragons gained valuable paddling experience that will no doubt filter down to the club level," he said.

The tour to China wrapped up a busy part of the year for the three club members. As well as the usual club training and regattas, the three members, along with Chris Favelle also represented Western Regional NSW at the National Titles in Canberra.

The Lachlan Dragons have finished paddling for the season but will resume on Sunday, July 28. To get involved, contact the Forbes Dragon Boat Club on Facebook or meet at their shed at the bottom of the Forbes Sport and Recreation's bowling green at 8:15am on Sundays.

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