Reaping the rewards of fitness - Nationals, Lake Hood, March 23rd & 24th 2018

Lake Hood, 2018 will be remembered as our first year in recent times to get medals at the Nationals. With increased fitness, not only did we win three bronzes, we also did Personal Bests in all our finals, including cracking the one minute barrier with a time of 59.68 seconds in the 200 metres. The graciousness of Boobops when we beat them in the 500 metres final will also be remembered.

Although cold, the weather held out with good conditions on the water. Our lovely new lined jackets came in very handy over our thick fleeces, keeping us warm between events and during prizegivings. It was great to have those prizegivings at the end of each event, rather than all at once at the end.

Once again, the BCS dinner was a highlight. Mixing with other teams’ members at tables meant the camaraderie within our own team extended to our BCS sisters in other teams when we met them the next day. Gemma McCaw was a riveting speaker as she described not only her connection to breast cancer through her nan, but told us personal stories and lessons learnt as a top sportswoman. We are still wondering whether it is true that when we think we are giving it our all, it is only 40%!

As always, the success on the water is matched equally by the enjoyment of being away together as a team. To share our goals, our successes, our disappointments, our accommodation, our transport, our meals, our fun times and our lives with each other, is treasured by us all.

I want to give a big thank you to Leslie, our coach, and to Judy and the committee for all their hard work. The rest of us just had to paddle; they gave so much of their time to ensure everything was ready and set up for us to succeed. Thanks too to our family members for their support and to the four paddlers from other teams who joined Busting for this event. They were a great addition.

This was the last year we would be at Lake Hood, but not the last one to win medals at Nationals events!   

- Helen McKessar

National Championships, Lake Karapiro, Friday & Saturday 7/8 April 2017

There was more these National Champs than simply chasing medals, as Beth Davis shares ...
One memory I hope never to forget is eating our Hangi in the dark by Lake Karapiro after the National Championships for Dragon Boat Racing. There we were, just our team, sitting all together around two folding tables eating tin-foiled wrapped meals that had been picked up from the back of a truck and presumably cooked underground on a local Marae. The air was crisp. We couldn’t ask for more unless it was perhaps a flashlight to see what the smoky deliciousness was that we were eating. It was a magical moment, having just finished 2 days of hard competition and now wanting to savour the moment before heading off. The moonlight was shining off the lake and it was truly just us eating in the dark. The 30 other teams and hordes of spectators had trouped off after the final 2km race.

We sat reflecting on our day. “How about those spirited teenage girls dancing the Macarena in a large 100-girl circle on the slope of the hill leading down to the lake?” Who can forget the young ones belting out Adele’s “Hello” at the top of their lungs - just like we were all at Vector Arena? We weren’t as amused when those young ones chased us down and snuck past us on the final race of the day. They overtook us on the second turn of the gruelling 2km Race. I think we all felt outraged as they powered past us with their youth and enthusiasm, and we were so close that we could have told them off. I wanted to splash them with my paddle, but I needed every ounce of energy just to keep time with my teammates. Instead we tuned out those pretty young things, and stayed focused.

I’ll never forget Caro beating the drum and Robynne urging us to REACH…yelling POWER! It was so exciting but so exhausting! The sun had nearly set by the time we left everything we had out on that lake. My throat was so parched that I had to dip a hand into the lake after crossing the finish line. Then I patted my teammates on the back to thank them for their supreme efforts and accepted their pats on my back in a lovely tactile ritual that shows deep appreciation for everyone's effort. Although we didn’t know it as we crossed the finish line, we had achieved a personal best—under 12 minutes for the 2km race! But we did know, in that moment, that all of our hard work had paid off and made that moment possible. Together, we had achieved something really difficult. 

Amazing how far 20 strangers have come since I joined the team 6 months ago. I feel so grateful to all my teammates for turning up at practice and giving it their all - and setting such fine examples of being good people. For me, Nationals was about Life Lessons and how we strive to be better people. For example, we were all grateful to Jude for coming back to us. She somehow managed to compartmentalise a close family tragedy and still come back to race the next morning. We also thought about our great friend Donna with her youthful face and curly hair who just found out she is facing the challenge of recurrence of her breast cancer. We are all so grateful to them both for joining us in the boat at Nationals despite the immediate challenges they faced. And like a circle, we offered them love and support right back. Nothing special, just listening with our hearts.

I hope that by writing this down now, it will help us to remember that night by the lake when we did our best for ourselves and for our teammates. Thank you all for a great season!


NZ National Championships, Lake Hood, Ashburton - 19/20 March 2016

Linda Ashton (aka The Pink Panther) presents her first slice of life with BWL

Ok, so coach says pack for the bitter cold, it will be bitter and when you’re wet you will be cold. DO AS YOU ARE TOLD!

Packed to the brim with thermals …. I’m ready!

Friday 18th March. We start filtering through to the Auckland airport pulling behind us our little “houses “ (well, they felt like heavy bricks to be fair, all that thermal gear! ) As our flight numbers rolled up on the big screens SOME of us boarded, SOME of us had to stay behind … flight cancellations, oh bugger! What next, drink more coffee? So as SOME of the team travelled down to Christchurch, we gathered together in the airport talking and waiting for the others to arrive. All phones go off, text from the “leader” it reads "2nd attempt to get to you all but flight again cancelled." I can feel a movie sequel about to break out, “The Terminal 2" starring (part of the team) Busting With Life!!. While this is going on other team members who had earlier flights that day were also being cancelled and a back log started to develop, OMG! Friday ended a bit like this…..SOME of us got into our awaiting vans - SOME of us went food shopping - SOME of us arrived at Methven - and SOME of us had first choice of the beds!! and the remaining team arrived in Methven at 10.15pm. A very VERY lonnnng day stuck in an airport. Sleep was totally on the agenda that night, zzzzzzz……

Saturday 19th March….ding dong….ding dong..5.30am alarm bells going off, dam it - no sleep in. Light from the kitchen shines through the gap of the bedroom door and the noise of the water pressure from a tap fills the kettle reminding us there is no time to sleep in. Four women get up, so organized in getting ready, a bit like watching synchronized swimming, PERFECTO! Head count from the coach and load the 3 vans with team and gear for the day and we’re off. Morning was a tad cool but the day was just unfolding. We arrived at Lake Hood and as the sun began to rise, its orange glow reflected onto the still waters - awesome, romantic almost……no time for that! We have a job to do, so let’s do it. “Accommodation” for the weekend event was grand, felt like you were about to enter a sheiks tent; no camels in sight though, just rows of pristine white peak tents with white picket fences for the entrance - outstanding! Today’s races were 500metre in 20 and 10 man boats. 5 BC teams entered (Busting With Life one of them). A light breeze developed first thing and as the day went on the breeze turned to strong gusty winds causing chaos at the start line. Sweeps calling “back paddle..hold..back paddle…hold, forward….back paddle," just trying to keep the boat in a good starting position and with keen-eager paddlers ready to, frustrating! Tough competition, team strength and loads of dedication. All teams had the ability to win, and all teams did win but there were those teams that did exceptionally well and they were the winners on the day. Busting With Life were only seconds away, literally, seconds away to winning medals. We achieved personal bests in the 500metre 10 man boat sprint. All the other teams were supportive of each other on land but on the water… could see the strength in the faces as the paddles went in longer and harder, faster and faster, pure adrenalin pumping stuff, truly a sight to see. Prize giving for the day's winners and we loaded into our vans off to a dinner function that was kindly sponsored by the NZ Breast Cancer Association. We were assigned to tables, napkins marked with our team colour and sat next to other BC teams. We talked and laughed about our past and previous races, some handy tips to take on board. Dinner was delicious (better cause we didn’t have to cook it!) and dessert just filled us to our brims. A guest speak from a BC team spoke on recruitment - well, what a laugh a real hoot! The lengths to “embrace” a new member to come on board is harder than what you think!. Time to go, so we loaded our weary bodies with full tums in the vans back to Methven to unpack and re-pack our gear bags and “houses" for day 2 of race day. A quick cuppa and heads on pillows ZZzzzzzzzzzzzz……

Sunday 20th March (last race day, boohoo ) ….Bing…bong, buzz….buzz…musictunes from alarms5.30am wakeup call………Quick wake up sleepy head in room 4. Chaos - headless chickens - flapping wings and loose feathers going everywhere! Quick showers scoff breakfast down; collect the bathroom stuff and skull a cuppa tea. Check the rooms for any left behinds - Nah, all good. Head count and load up the vans with bodies and gear bags (don’t get the 2 mixed) and “houses" made of bricks! 2000metre race 1st up (due to the gusty winds the day before). Followed by 200metre 20 and 10 man races. The 10 man race was carried out in a 20 man boat! Totally different dynamics involved. Wind and weight take a big part and knowing how quickly things can change in a flash on the water all eyes ahead and ears turned on. The races were thrilling to be in as well as to watch. All ages of people participated from teens to the more “matures”. It was an honour (to me) that we paddled amongst the great ones, just amazing. Busting With Life, we came, we saw, we paddled our little hearts out - pat on the back to all. A raffle was drawn on the last night of prize giving. Our wonderful coach won the prize and the team cheered and clapped. The prize was a carbon fibre paddle - CONGRATS COACH!. We packed up yet again, this time for the last time of the season. Said our goodbyes and headed for Christchurch to the motel. Lucky for us a restaurant was on site so we booked a table for around 20 of us. Tummies full again we disbursed to our rooms. Got ready for bed and a quick chin wag about the weekends event. We all had a great time, and we all needed to head off to bed early to catch our flights in the morning and throughout the day. No big delays this time and soon we were all back in Auckland to the “rat race" of the day to day issues, basically hitting the ground running. To sum up the weekend’s event, Busting With Life is a team with heart and soul. We care, we strive and best of all, we gel….like chewing gum to a shoe or wax to paddles and other places! We are ready and waiting for the new season to start, roll on summer cause we are “busting" to get back on the water.