Dragonboating 2017

Featured photography by Jennifer Lowe

Paddles! Water! Dragons! Equals DRAGONBOATING! On Sunday the 19th of March, two enthusiastic Rutherford dragonboating teams drove up to Lake Pupuke at six in the morning, eager to show off their skills and a chant. They’ve had only four 1-hour sessions to practise, but came out with two silvers and a first! How did they do it?

“We were supposed to train for six weeks, but we missed out on two because of the weather and time muck-ups,” said one dragonboater, “but we made sure to have our four week practises to really count!”

Rutherford had two teams; Kotuku Dragons and Kotuku Taniwha, one being competitive and the other being not respectively. They each had 20 paddlers, 1 caller and 1 sweeper in which the sweeper was typically the coach of the team. At Westhaven Marina, it was a tiring training session each week, paddling in the water amongst other training schools. Sometimes it would rain lightly but sometimes the sun shone real badly! But each team had their endless energy and the right attitude to carry them through the basics quickly.

“Our team would warm-up first in a large circle (very loudly!) then we’d go and file into our boats. The boat positions usually had the pacers/time-keepers at the front, the powerhouses at the middle, and the good time-keepers at the back.”

Vee was the Taniwha’s coach, whilst Maria was the Dragons’ coach. Both were excellent and were precise in their instructions! They trained our dragonboaters’ stamina, starts and calls briskly but thoroughly. Our interviewee told us solemnly that what was important in a race wasn’t how much power you had, but rather pacing and keeping in time with each paddler.

As well as coming home sore from stabbing the paddle into the water, Rutherford dragonboaters also met several times to practise their chant. In the regatta, there was a chant-off to help increase spirit; but it was also a competition that every school wanted first in! Laura and Maia worked very hard in leading the chant practises for Rutherford, especially when they had very limited time so, give them a round of applause!

On the day of the regatta, they had big schools like St Cuthbert’s and local schools like Waitakere come to compete at Lake Pupuke. There was a lot of music, food, energy and heaps of different uniforms mingling around. There were a lot of family and friends turning up to see the intense water races as well (including ex-Rutherford students)! Our dragonboating teams had slapped on some sunscreen and went straight down to business with six races for each team…coming out with Kotuku Dragons bringing silver for both 200m and the 500m mixed races! Amazing! Rutherford also came first equal for the chant-off (in which you HAVE to see) with Westlake Boys.

“I’ll never forget the feel of the salty water, the rocking boat where everyone paddled with great strength together…it’s an awesome team sport I definitely recommend to all senior students next year! You’ll get something really unique by sitting on the boat with twenty-two people, paddling together like our life depended on it. It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t really put into words.”

They’d like to thank Vee and Maria for coaching such a rowdy bunch like them. Also, a big shout-out to Ms Bakker, Ms Halliday, Mr Allen and Ms Hatcher for organising and supervising Rutherford Dragonboating 2017!

Written by Anon-creampuff

Photography by Gill and Ms. Halliday

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