Dragon boaters in fun for funds

Crowds gathered at Henley Lake on Sunday for the Masterton Dragon Boat regatta.

Described as a "fun event" there was a lot of friendly competition between the local Cancer Society Wairarapa dragon boat team and visiting teams who were all here for a day of fundraising and a training session.

Visitors included Upper Hutt's Heretaunga College school team and four other Wellington teams including CANsurvive, Department of Conservation team, Doctopus and a team from Capital Coast Health.

Also competing was Wairarapa's Solway College.

Chairman of the Cancer Society Wairarapa dragon boat team Lindy Daniell said the Masterton team, which was formed four years ago, is made up of 80 per cent cancer survivors and 20 per cent friends and family.

Lindy says the medical benefits of dragon boating in helping keep cancer at bay were first investigated by a Canadian, Doctor Don McKenzie.

"In 1996 he launched in Vancouver, Abreast in a Boat, which was the very first breast cancer dragon boat.

"Today there are teams worldwide and it's not just breast cancer survivors - people with all sorts of cancers take part. Some teams are made up solely of breast cancer survivors but others aren't and many of course include men. Something that is becoming more common today for example is breast cancer in men."

Lindy has no doubts that dragon boating has helped her enormously both physically and emotionally during her own experience with cancer, and says the comradeship among the team is wonderful.

Other members agree and believe they, too, have gained so much in many ways since joining the team.

Jenny Duggan, of Carterton, says the friendship and fitness gained has been very beneficial. Jenny first became involved with the team three years ago after a battle with bladder cancer.

"I'd definitely recommend it - it's helped me. The support is wonderful and the family can become involved in it to, I love it."


Her Eketahuna team mate Janet Lochhead agrees. Diagnosed with kidney cancer at 49, Janet is enjoying her second season of dragon boating and describes it as the ``best thing'' for all roundhealth.

``I was introduced to dragon boating by a member and thought I would give it a go - it's one of  the best things I've done.

``You have to go past the pain and do it. The friends you make are wonderful and it gives you a whole new aspect on life - it helps you get control of all your emotions.

``It helps you put in perspective where you are going in life. Getting cancer really made me look at what was important and peel off things that weren't.

``I can't stress what our coach Ivan Karaitiana has done for so many people. He's an angel _ a hard man when it comes to training, but he's just full of love.''

Lindy describes the day as a ``great success'' that was enjoyed by everyone - although who won is probably anyone's guess.

``We had eight races and our Wairarapa team ended up being split into two teams - so we ended up racing against each other.

``It was a huge decision deciding who came first and who came second between them - I think we can safely call it a dead heat.

``There was a lot of play fighting going on over the result - but it was a lot of good humoured fun.''

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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