Incredible to think that in just over 6 weeks the Australian dragon boat community will be converging on the Melbourne Docklands! Dragon Boats Victoria could not have chosen a more spectacular venue for this spectacular sport and I know how very proud they are as host state to the 2012 Championships, to have this opportunity to show case the vibrant attractions of the Docklands.
As an honorary Life Member of the Australian Dragon Boat Federation, I will definitely be dock-side! I’m excited at the prospect of seeing 2,500 dragon boat athletes from across the nation thrash their way through the waters of the Docklands, for the coveted title of Australian Dragon Boat Champions.
When I first became a dragon boat paddler almost 14 years ago, the sport was still very much in its infancy here, with little general public awareness and even less media interest. It is due to Dragons Abreast, the breast cancer survivor movement of individuals post breast cancer treatment paddling dragon boats that the sport in Australia has spread to so many regional areas of this vast country. Whilst Dragons Abreast may have been the vanguard in regional Australia, the clubs today are thriving entities embracing the whole of local communities with paddlers ranging from juniors through to great grand dragons in their late 7o‘s and even 80’s. Dragon boating is the fastest growing team water sport in Australia and, indeed the world and this is no doubt to its wide appeal and accessibility to all age ranges regardless of fitness levels.
The fast and furious racing action combined with the colourful spectacle of majestic dragon heads surging across the water to the rhythmic beat of the drums has captured the interest and imagination of both the public and the media. There is no more visually dynamic sport on, or off, the water. Okay, I am biased!
Spectators at Docklands will be treated to lots of eye candy from our premier men and women, be amazed at the fitness of our over 60’s category of racing and generally admire the spectacular prowess of pure muscle power, grit and determination which powers the majestic crafts as they race for the finish line with only a dragons whisker separating the positioning. I sincerely hope that Melburnians will come along and witness the extraordinary carnival atmosphere that surrounds a Dragon Boat Championship event – it is not very often that dragon boat racing of this calibre takes place right in the centre of a city.
Dragon Boats Victoria’s Organising Committee (working in partnership with the Australian Dragon Boat Federation) for the 2012 Australian Dragon Boat Championships, promise us the largest turn out ever this year, in both elite athlete competitor numbers and in spectator numbers. It is the first championships event to be held over 5 days (Sat. 31st March – Thurs. 5th April) – a testament to the growth and popularity of the sport.
Docklands will be rife with Dragon Fever! 2012 is the Year of the Water Dragon in the Chinese calendar and the sport’s rich Chinese origins will be honoured with spectacular opening and closing ceremonies. I hope Melbourne is ready because the Dragons Are Coming – in their thousands!!
The Dragons are Coming to Melbourne 31 March – 5 April 2012 http://www.dragonboatsvictoria.com.au/nat/