The strength of women - documentaries and hard-earned treasure

A for - ACTION!

This season just seemed to have started and finished so quickly, it’s now all over- boohoo ☹.

 2019 Nationals took place at Lake Karipiro on  Friday the 5th & Saturday the 6th April. We were “lucky or fortunate” (whichever way you want to think) to have a film crew follow us and the team A BREAST OF LIFE, and Pink Dragons. The topic for this film is THE STRENGTH OF WOMEN, can’t wait to see the end product.  At first we were all a bit young girly giggly stuff knowing they were filming us but as the Nationals got closer the film crew became like a comfy pair of shoes, you didn’t know they were around- except when the camera was right in your face! lots of laughs and mostly volunteers doing the hard yards, so we were happy to be helping them out.

So, with stars in our eyes this is how it all unraveled…..

Thursday afternoon, shoved suitcase, gear bag and chilly bag in the boot and headed towards Auckland to swing by Libby’s place. Threw her and gear bag in the car and off we went, Thelma and Louise here we come…………but with a happier ending of course.

Reached Cambridge, went food shopping to cater for our 2 full days of paddling. Found the Motel, gathered our belongings and hauled it up the 3 flights of stairs to our awaiting rooms.

I bowled up to my room, swung open the door and yelled….” Honey I’m home “to find Susan lying on her bed with book in hand, cuppa at her bedside and checking out the insides of her eye lids, Whoops.

We all went out for dinner at a local restaurant, and had very limited (some of us zero) alcohol, tummies full and time for nigh nigh’s. Night night.

The Motel had a communal kitchen, which was fantastic as it brought us all together when needed. Breakfast’s was a display of a well-oiled machine. Toast toasting, cereal swimming, eggs boiling, coffee and tea steaming and just a sea of pink overlapping each other. Meeting held at 6.45am then convoy to the lake.

Arrived just after 7am and the fog was as thick as pea soup (grey not green) so start time was delayed by 30 minutes or so. Fog lifted and the marshalling calls started, YAHOO. 500m races today in standard boat (20 man) and small boat (10 man) in the afternoon.

SILVER in the 500m standard boat. GOLD in the 500m small boat….YES YES YES!!!

 Prize giving took place as the finals were completed. Finished around 4.30-5, loaded up the cars and back to the motel. Showers and change attire and off to the Breast Cancer Dinner held at the local rugby club. A magnificent feast was displayed and just the odd glass of wine consumed…. honestly. Speaker Emily Searle spoke of her breast cancer journey. She gathered short stories from many women around the world going through the same journey, her book was on sale.

 All of us pitched in to tidy up the club rooms then back to the motel to fall into bed, to be woken again at 5.30am and do it all over again.

Saturday morning, a sea of pink in the kitchen again. Meeting at 6.45am and convoy to the lake.

A Clear morning this time. Starting was on time. Today standard boat (20 man) and small boat (10 man).

 SILVER in the 200m small boat. AWESOME 😊.

Prize giving again and then back to the motel to shower and have a Busting family fish and chip dinner. Thank you to Michaels mum for the donation for our dinner. We sunk into our chairs and chatted about the last couple of days paddling. Medals were given out and now to relax with a glass of chilled wine and awesome company, BUSTING WITH LIFE- my team. One more function to go to and that was the 2k prize giving held in the pavilion at the lake, and a bit of dancing to blow away the aches and pains- (more like have another wine and forget about the aches and pains till the morning!)

To me, this season has been more self-motivating, to be more prepared, physically and mentally. A bit like when you just click to what’s going on around you and maybe the planets were all aligned. I was on the coat tails of the Graymen’s Waka training (I wasn’t even aware of this until  the new year rolled over) pushing myself that little bit harder than I could manage, making sure the other people in the gym class’s weren’t waiting on me. Maybe it was I tried the “DORY” theory ( thanks Angie ), if it worked for Dory then why can’t it work for me?! Ladies- it’s a privilege to be in a boat with VERY strong-minded woman, you make me laugh, you make me laugh at myself. An absolutely priceless bunch of ladies to have as friends and paddling partners. Let’s not forget that amazing slide in the kids play ground……..

 Can’t wait for the Documentary, can’t wait for 2020 season to start, can’t wait to go down that slide again and can’t wait for our next gathering. 

- Linda Ashton

Crushing it at regionals! with a gremlin related twist...

As we gathered on the shore for the opening address of the 2019  Regional’s, Lake Pupuke reflected the early morning sunlight, the weather perfect for good times on the water.

What was the day to bring? Would our hard work and rigorous training see us achieve our goals? There’s a ‘yes’ in that answer, an ‘almost’ and an unexpected twist.

After a first 500m heat which left room for improvement we got our groove on and were happy with the second. In the final we fought hard and took gold. It’s been a few years since Busting has held the 500m trophy and a great prize to celebrate.

After returning good times in the heats, less than half a second separated us and our sisters in the 200m final giving us the silver in an exciting and very close race.

The last race of the day is the 2000m and fatigued as we may be we know we have to channel that  interval training, call on that final reserve of energy and give it our all. We put in a well paced race but was it good enough? For a short time it appeared that it was, but gremlins in the timing system were sorted out and ultimately we got second.

A memorable Regionals for us and cause to reflect on a fantastic day of racing with our BC sisters and across the whole dragonboat community. 

- Jo Hooper reporting for the team

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – 28th January 2019

Womens Minor Final.jpg

Winning on the water, go team!

What an amazing day on Auckland’s world class Viaduct Harbour celebrating Auckland Anniversary, Dragon Boat Racing and a team of incredible women

On what was to be a rather hot and humid summer day it started overcast with just a “spritzer” of rain to keep everyone cool.  

Busting With Life entered two teams on the day participating in three heats with both teams in the finals! In the true spirit of the BWL ladies, we came away with a WIN!

Aside from the racing it was a social day mixing with other teams, making new friends and enjoying the sidewalk entertainment and the bustle of the Viaduct on a public holiday.

What a great way to start the 2019 calendar and we look forward to more celebrations throughout the season as our team of avid paddlers, new and old, blend to be the unstoppable team that is Busting With Life!

Angie Flemming

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!


Regional Championships, Lake Pupuke, Takapuna, Saturday 18 March 2017

Season newbie Darien Pearce experiences her first Regionals held on Busting's training turf ....

I arrived at Lake Pupuke for Regionals and it was a beautiful crisp morning with a sea of tents, excited people, and the boats looking lovely on the water with their dragon heads and tails attached.  After dropping my things at the tent, the first stop was to join everyone else queuing for a hot drink to start the day!  This was my first Regionals and I was nervous.  Could I do this, would I survive the 2km race?  Yes, I could!  The flower ceremony for the BC teams was very moving.  All in all it was an amazing day with amazing people.  Everyone dug deep and found the energy needed, even for that 2km race!  It was also exceptionally nice to have some “bling” at the end... Go Busting!!!   The next day was spent lying on the couch! 

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta, Viaduct Harbour, Monday 30 January 2017

It wasn't for a wine and a meal that season newbie Jo Hooper headed to the Viaduct for on this occasion ...

We gathered at the Viaduct early ready to race. The day started and continued in perfect conditions with 24 degrees and next to no wind (could this be true after all these windy training sessions?) Being my first competitive race I was looking forward to the day and the opportunity of putting into practice all the elements we had concentrated on in training. Also nice to be at the Viaduct for a purpose other than eating and drinking!

Dressed in our racing shirts and with our light racing paddles it was exciting getting into the small, much less stable, boats. The beautiful dragon heads and tails were attached and with drum in front the boats were quite magnificent. The first two races were run close together and we did good times in both. We came third in our first race and a close fourth in the second, with a mixed team taking first place.

We had a long break before our 3rd race which gave us a chance to check out the opposition’s styles, have lunch, shelter from the sun and have a chat of course. In our 3rd race we knocked a few seconds off our previous race time and it felt really good employing the race plan we had gone over in training and seeing the results. In the final we were up against Bay Dragons, Waikato Treasure Chest and Jaffettes Red and came in an extremely close third with only .85 of a second separating 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Paddling in the Viaduct in the confined space and calm water was a whole different experience to training and the feeling of the boat lifting and responding to our efforts during the race was very strong. The day was filled with a lovely sense of competitive spirit and good sportsmanship between all teams.

It’s a long time since I’ve been part of a sports team and it feels great to be part of a fabulous group of friendly women who have had a shared experience and to improve fitness at the same time. Go Busting!

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.