Camden Haven Dragon Boat Club members compete in Dragon Boats NSW Region V Region Regatta during June

SYDNEY COMPETITION: Robert 'Bob' Woelders (blue cap, middle) and Northern team paddlers competing at the regatta in Penrith. Photo: Camden Haven Dragon Boat Club.
SYDNEY COMPETITION: Robert 'Bob' Woelders (blue cap, middle) and Northern team paddlers competing at the regatta in Penrith. Photo: Camden Haven Dragon Boat Club.

Former marine engineer Robert 'Bob' Woelders is enjoying life back on the water as a vital member of the Camden Haven Dragon Boat Club.

The marine engineer of 23 years was one of eight members representing the northern region at the Olympic Rowing Centre in Penrith for the Dragon Boats NSW Region v Region Regatta this month.

The north coast team finished fourth against regional teams from Sydney, South West and Townsville.

Mr Woelders, who also worked as a fitter machinist in Newcastle, began his dragon boat journey only recently in April 2019 after moving to Lakewood.

"Before I moved to the Camden Haven from Newcastle I was always thinking about it. It was only later when I was talking with a neighbour in Lakewood who said 'why don't you just try it, see how it goes'," he said.

"I've always been a water person and I found that I quite liked dragon boating. I like anything about water and it was similar to kayaking, which I have done a lot of since 2002.

REGION VERSUS REGION: Camden Haven paddlers competing at the regatta in Penrith. Photo: Camden Haven Dragon Boat Club.

REGION VERSUS REGION: Camden Haven paddlers competing at the regatta in Penrith. Photo: Camden Haven Dragon Boat Club.

"I enjoy the physical aspect of it, looking out into nature and the friendship involved.

"I'll continue into my 70s for sure because in the boat you don't need to try hard all the time. As long as you're in time with the paddles and body motion you can put as much effort as you want into the stroke."

Mr Woelders said the hobby reminded him of being out on the water while fishing or spear fishing but required practice to compete in.

"I enjoy the competitiveness of the sport and not necessarily to win all the time, but just to try as hard as you can. I normally stay in the middle of the boat with the more powerful paddlers and they call us the engine room," he said.

"A good dragon boat paddler takes practice, strength, agility, endurance and to have good heart. Being in time with the rest of the crew is critical in the dragon boat.

"We have another regatta against Newcastle and local teams in Kempsey in three week's time."