Dragon boating proves to be a sport for all ages
THE Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club is proud of its seven Great Great Grand Dragons, who still actively train and compete with the Rainbow's sports team.
All septuagenarians, they provide inspiration and encouragement to the younger members of the club.
Great Great Grand Master Annola McQuade, a paddler with the club for nine years, says dragon boat regattas take place all over the world, and most of these 70-plus-year-olds have travelled far and wide to race in Europe, Asia and North America.
"National competitions have seen the septuagenarians at the Masters Games in Adelaide and Pan Pacs at the Gold Coast, fiercely giving their all to 'lift the boat'," Annola said.
Always striving to increase their fitness levels, these dynamic paddlers overlook the "aging process" and refuse to let a few aches and pains deter them from a sport they love.
"A typical training session involves land warm-ups, which include aerobic movement, weights and the infamous ERG machine - a computerised paddling machine which measures distance, time and strength," Annola said.
"After one to one-and-a-half hours on the water, working on technique, timing, power and racing, a cool-down and stretch session is mandatory.
"The camaraderie within the members of the Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club has never had an issue with age.
"It's all a matter of strength, timing and enthusiasm that keeps the Great Great Grand Dragons a force to be reckoned with in a dragon boat."
The club has 68 members and the oldest is aged 75.
They train on Lake Ainsworth at Lennox Head on Sundays at 8am, Saturdays at 7am, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5.30pm.
WHAT IS DRAGON BOATING?
Dragon boating is a fast and fun team-based paddling sport. Its origins go back 2500 years to ancient China where races played an important role in religious ceremonies and festivals.
Around the world thousands of paddlers, aged from 12 to in their 80's, compete in events from local social races to international regattas.
Whether it be for fitness, friendship, competition or fun, dragon boating caters for all.