A TASMANIAN crew of novice paddlers has made its mark in China thanks to mentoring received from two Lindisfarne-based dragon boat clubs.
Derwent Storms and Dragons Abreast Hobart (Tasmania) provided coaching, boats, paddling support and expert advice to the young bloods from the University of Tasmania during the three-month lead up to an intervarsity cultural and sporting event in Shanghai in September.
Sponsored by the Shanghai Ocean University, the 12 undergraduates competed in short-course racing against university students from China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Europe.
They performed beyond their wildest expectations, coming second in the 100-metre races and sixth in the 200-metre events among a field of 11 crews.
Coach Julie Davidson said an approaching typhoon cut the regatta program short, but the students performed heroically in atrocious water conditions.
“One of the local coaches thought that they must have been training for a year, not three months,” she said.
The students had not been in a dragon boat prior to their first training session in Lindisfarne Bay in June.
However, a mixture of youth, strength and enthusiasm ensured their weekly on-water training sessions in the depths of winter prepared them for some tough conditions and competition in Asia.
Before the crew left for China, the Derwent Storms and Dragons Abreast clubs provided some race practice with a mini regatta on Lindisfarne Bay.
The good-spirited racing enabled the UTAS crew to perfect their starts and improve their timing.
Among the Derwent Storms paddlers were four Australian representatives, who were able to provide some racing tips and sound advice about overseas competition.
Caption: Australian dragon boat representatives, from left, Martin Turner, Sebastian Sullivan, Geoff Andrews, Julie Davidson (coach), Davis Hinton, Ashleigh Constance, Oliver Gales, Alison Mourant, Stuart Iles, Matthew Lake and Angie Turner.