Great Lakes Pearl Dragons to host annual regatta November 18 to 19

Ready to race: Teams will travel from as far as Sydney, Grafton and Illawarra for the Great Lakes Pearl Dragons annual regatta. The event gets underway at 8am on Saturday, November 18.
Ready to race: Teams will travel from as far as Sydney, Grafton and Illawarra for the Great Lakes Pearl Dragons annual regatta. The event gets underway at 8am on Saturday, November 18.

It’s that time of the year when the Great Lakes becomes the centrepiece of dragon boat racing as the Pearl Dragons gear up to host the annual regatta at Elizabeth Reserve, Forster Keys this weekend, November 18 to 19.

This will be the sixth time the reigning NSW club of the year will host the regatta.

Great Lakes Pearl Dragons president Denise Marr said all members of the club were banding together to make the event a success.

“It’s all hands on deck,” she said.

“We’ve also had great support from the community.”

Day one will see senior and junior community groups, sporting teams as well as businesses hit the water as well as the combined 500 metre and two kilometre race.

The regatta will close on Sunday with the 200 metre sprints. 

An event highlight will include the Dragon Spirit Race for Mid Coast disability clients. This event will see two boats, containing both clients and their carers, compete in a 400 metre race.

“It’s to give them the experience of being on the water in a safe and controlled manner,” Denise said. 

The regatta is set to attract more than a dozen sports teams from across NSW such as the North Coast, Illawarra, Sydney and Grafton.

Denise added that Newcastle would be one of the strongest competitors across the weekend.

“They are a big club and have come up the last few times,” she said.

Denise said the Pearl Dragons also were keen to add another chapter to their “friendly rivalry” with the Flamin Dragons Port Macquarie and Kempsey Macleay Dragon Boat Club. 

The sides regularly compete against one another other at regional events before joining forces at out-of-area regattas.

With the responsibility of the regatta in the hands of the Dragons, the club is normally unable to field any teams in the sprints.

However, Denise said this year would be different as the club was prepared to work overtime to ensure the women’s open side have a paddle.

“We’re all working hard to get the women in the water,” Denise said. 

“It will allow our newer members to join in with our other members.”

The side finished with a bronze medal in the 200 metre event at the Australian Dragon Boat Nationals earlier this year. 

Denise added that the regatta would be a sound economic boost to the Great Lakes, with at least one club expected to stay more than one day.

A barbecue and coffee vendor will be available across the weekend.

The Pearl Dragons will also hold a raffle. The regatta will begin at 8am.