11th October 2015
By Sharmaine Aguanta

From the shore, a dragon boat race looks like a tessellation of rapidly moving arms. The starting gun is fired and there’s a moment of solemnity, before you hear pounding drums and each sweep’s sharp calls. At the Dragon Boat NSW Penrith regatta, we had 200 metres to display everything we had gained as a team. It was the payoff for Spring practices hampered by windless heat and icy rain.

Every regatta reminds me why being ‘in the same boat’ is a metaphor for shared experience. To form a race, teams maneuver their boats with precise half-strokes. We wait while every boat is lined up to the satisfaction of race officials. In the tense moments before the Premier women’s second heat, crew members addressed the restlessness with encouraging messages ‘to reach for the finish line’. When the race finally began, we snapped into steely focus with those words ringing in our heads.

The Dragon Sports Association had a fantastic race day, holding our own among the best teams in the state. We competed in the Premier Open, Premier Women’s and had two crews in the Premier Mixed division. Our Premier Women’s team made the final.

Beyond the racing results, it was a privilege to be part of the racing atmosphere on the day. Teams went to great lengths to differentiate themselves with painted moustaches, zinc smothered cheeks or neon headbands. The marshalling tents were filled with paddlers stretching, commiserating and singing along to portable music players. At the end of the second heat, we lifted our heads and discovered we had edged out our competitors to earn a spot in the finals. Our immediate reaction was to begin a rousing chorus of cheers for the other teams. Regattas demonstrate team spirit is intrinsic to dragon boating, and I have never been prouder of DSA for continuing this legacy.

Check out the photos from the day HERE

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