All together now: The art in dragon boat racing is to paddle in unison. Photo: SUPPLIED

Swiftly across the lake

November 7, 2019 BY

WITH a golden dragon head on the bow and a green tail at the stern it is easy to spot the Golden Dragons Ballarat Boat Club when they are out paddling on Lake Wendouree.

Judy Parry, the club’s Vice President, said now that it is regatta season, the boats are training on the water four times a week.

“While we are a competitive club, paddling is a fun thing to do and it helps keep you fit,” Ms Parry said. “It is a team sport so everyone has to work together yet you don’t need special skills”

Originating in China 2500 years ago they were used to transport warriors into battle.

Boats come in different lengths, traditionally Golden Dragons train teams of 10 or 20 rowers.

Each boat has a two other people on board, a sweep and a drummer.

The sweep positions the team in the boat so it is balanced in the water from front to back and left to right and the drummer sits at the bow beating the rhythm to keep time for the rowers.

The sweep stands at the stern steering the boat and is ultimately in charge of the boat and calls all the commands.

“Feeling the boat rise up and glide across the water is invigorating,” Ms Parry said. “It is all about upper body and team work.

“Age is not a restriction and I’ve seen people lowered from a wheelchair into the boat in order to compete.”

The club is open to people of all ages and abilities and offers three ‘come and try’ sessions before taking up membership.

During the winter months if the weather precludes rowing the members maintain their fitness with an indoor program.

“So many people can do it, if you like water and canoeing you are bound to love dragon boats,” Ms Parry said. “Its also a great way to network and make connections with sports minded folk and there is often travel involved during regatta season.”

The club sent a team to Hong Kong last year and have just returned from Adelaide where they competed in the Australian Masters Games.

They have regular team meetings, social gatherings and celebrations throughout the year.

Since the club was founded in 2012 members have, through community support fund raising, purchased two boats, a trailer and all the equipment required for paddling.

Golden Dragons Ballarat Boat Club launch from the boat ramp at Durham Point, North Shore, Lake Wendouree.