FSC dragon boaters celebrating tradition

STARING down the barrel of an exciting new dragon boat racing season, the Sapphire Water Dragons are taking the chance to look back on the sport. 

Sapphire Water Dragons sweep Pat Helmore said the sport is believed to have originated in China 2500 years ago. 

Lore says the poet Qu Yuan threw himself into the river rather than see China taken over by political rivals and locals took to the water in their boats to scare fish from eating Yuan’s body. 

“Dragons are traditionally believed to be the rulers of rivers and seas, and dominate the clouds and the rains of heaven,” Helmore said. 

“Dragon Boat racing as the basis for annual water rituals and festival celebrations, and for the traditional veneration of the Asian dragon water deity, have been practiced continually since these times,” she said. 

Opposing teams would clash and people who fell overboard were not to be helped and would be considered a sacrifice to the water deity. 

“Modern day Dragon Boating has lost none of the excitement of days gone by, but has become one of the fastest growing team sports in Australia and the world,” Helmore said. 

The sport is now governed by a dragon boating body at state, national and international levels.

Helmore said the races are closely regulated, but are plenty of fun. 

“Despite the rules of racing, the action is fast and furious, and there is plenty of noise with the paddlers splashing, the drummers beating their drums with enthusiasm and the sweeps yelling instructions,” she said. 

Helmore said there was a strong base for dragon boaters on the Far South Coast. 

“The coast has  clubs at Sussex Inlet, Moruya, Narooma and Merimbula.

Helmore said the Merimbula club, the Sapphire Water Dragons, also advocated and included members from Dragons Abreast in support of breast cancer support. 

“They promote paddling as a fun way of getting back into exercising following a breast cancer diagnosis,” she said. 

“It is a misconception that you have to have had breast cancer to paddle a dragon boat.

“Anybody 12 years and over can do it,” she said. 

Helmore said the club offers both social and competitive meets with recent success at the masters games. 

“The most recent success was five gold, two silver and one bronze medal at the Australian Masters Games in Geelong in October,” Helmore said. 

For more information on dragon boating in the local area contact Pat Helmore on 0427 961 626, or go to www.sapphirewaterdragons.com.au 

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