Dragon boaters are training hard in the lead up to an upcoming international event in Hong Kong.
A team of 30 will make the trip to compete at the 2018 Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races from Friday, June 22 until Sunday, June 24.
Eight members are from the dragon boatclub based at Laurieton with others from Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Woy Woy, Brisbane, Toowoon Bay, Galston, Mt Colah, Maitland, Sydney and the Waikato Region of New Zealand.
The team's name is Swaggies, a name originating from the song ‘Waltzing Matilda’. This event will be a first for this crew.
Member of the team Anne Ditton said the crew was looking forward to networking with other dragon boat members at the event and would have ‘a lot of fun too’.
Anne said the camaraderie within Swaggies is born from a mutual love of the sport and willingness to have a go, regardless of who they’re competing against.
The team is also very inclusive, Anne said and discrimination is not tolerated.
Anne said the team is made up of people who have disabilities, those who have battled cancer and a person who is legally blind.
Anne said the youngest team members are in their late 20s, while others are in their 60s.
Swaggies originated in 2013 when the team first competed in Wellington, NZ. It’s a regatta which team members have continued to compete at each year since.
Swaggies was formed so paddlers can compete in overseas or interstate regattas when their own club doesn’t have enough members available.
It’s often difficult for an individual club to put together a full crew for events requiring significant travel and associated expenses.
For the Hong Kong campaign there are paddlers from nine different dragon boat clubs from NSW and New Zealand.
Some of the participants have never met each other and the first time they will all paddle together will be on the first day of competition.
They have entered crews in small and standard boats in Mixed, Open, Women, Fancy dress and Cancer survivor categories.