Great Lakes Pearl Dragons score bronze at National Dragon Boat Championships

Coaches GLPD Kim Creighton, Rejane Chapman, Wendy Orman (head coach) and Jo Harris.
Coaches GLPD Kim Creighton, Rejane Chapman, Wendy Orman (head coach) and Jo Harris.

Taking out a bronze medal at the National Dragon Boat Championships was a great reward for all the hard work at training by the Great Lakes Pearl Dragons.

The club was represented at Lake Kawana on the Sunshine Coast by a team of 24 women paddlers, three male volunteers and all the support crew of family members who came to cheer them on.

This success follows on from the success of the NSW State team on Sunday (March 11), which four Pearlers were a part of.

Racing was held over two days of wild, windy and wet conditions. Despite this, the team’s spirits never dissipated but instead grew more intense as the women waited to hear the call for their race.

The first day’s afternoon events included the Senior A Women’s 500 metre race, but this was cancelled after an interrupted morning schedule due to the severe weather squalls that caused damage to the starting pontoon and threatened to sweep the volunteer boat handlers into the lake.

The second day’s program continued as scheduled and the excitement grew as the call for the Senior A Women’s standard boat 200 metre ‘splash and dash’ sprint came.

The team paddled furiously and within the field of five other teams proudly performed a personal best of 55.41 seconds, finishing closely beside two friendly club rivals of Newcastle and Pittwater.

The final event of the competition was to be the Senior A Women’s standard boat 2km endurance race.

Forster and Tuncurry residents would have seen the club training out on Wallis Lake regularly, practicing making turns at the end of 500m straights.

Pearl women paddling up to 200 metre start.

Pearl women paddling up to 200 metre start.

The women felt a mixture of eager anticipation and disappointment when this event had to be reduced to 1km to allow for all teams to complete the 2km race that also had to be cancelled the previous day.

Without any hesitation, head coach, Wendy Orman set the team up for success by reminding them of their ability to keep up the power and rate required, having been used to doing 2kms regularly.

After a smooth racing start, and heading into the wind, Jo Harris, the team’s drummer kept calling the women up. Kerrie Gammage, the team’s sweep for this event, kept the boat straight on the 500’s and turned nicely.

Together, the team responded to the call ‘bring it home’ and that’s what they did, brought it home with power.

The result was the bronze in a time of 5:52.38 minutes, narrowly missing out on silver by 1.97 seconds from Pittwater.

Great Lakes Pearl Dragons look forward to competing at next year’s Auschamps.

The club hopes to compete in mixed events as well as the women’s, but needs a few more keen and dedicated males to support our current members. We hope to build up our representation of men in the club.

If you are interested in having a go at this sport then contact Peter Reed 0416268408 or Wendy Orman 0407543813.