A beautiful warm sunny afternoon in Sarasota, Florida and 2500 survivors are now all wearing the same flamingo pink tee shirts for the opening ceremonies. Try finding your crew mates when everyone is dressed the same!! The dragon boat I am standing beside is about to be filled with ice to chill the cocktails….now that’s a novel use for a dragon boat at your next crew party!
No sooner are we all seated for the opening ceremonies and everyone starts jumping up and down, standing on chair seats and waving shirts and flags as 2 mini drones fly overhead filming us all….wow have we gone high tech…I think I’ll put one on my shopping list as they can’t be any more complicated to use than my iPhone, or can they? lol…
Pink Fireworks Sarasota
Dr Susan Love gave a very captivating key note address on her plans to have an “army of women” – like us…help to eradicate breast cancer. Please visit her web site and signup for the surveys at www.armyofwomen.org
And the evening ended at sunset with some amazing fireworks….Tomorrow racing begins….stay tuned!
Saturday, Oct 25th
After our 3rd place finish in our second race of the day we are celebrating in the beer garden! The team is pumped! Pink fire trucks, lots of great shopping and a full buffet lunch round out a perfect day. Dr. Don arrived today and we all got hugs, and yes… he stills knows many of our names! So nice to visit again with so many paddling sisters from previous trips to Singapore, Australia, Peterborough, Israel, London, England, Malaysia and Dublin.
Prior to the Parade of Nations we have my spouse guy to be our goalie in the Hyatt lobby and we practice our hockey moves and singing….you all know it….”it’s the good old hockey game, the best game in the land”. We are bused out to the Lakewood Ranch area where we stand around for well over an hour before the parade starts in this new residential area with a small town square. We are the Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey team, wearing red and white shirts, carrying hockey sticks, waving white towels and flags. The parade is a very short 20 minute route with family and supporters lining the way. After the parade is was total mayhem to find somewhere in the village to have some dinner, watch some of the street bands and then back on a bus to the Hyatt.
The best hotel story that we dare put in print so far….goes to Eleanor. While showering in her 3rd floor room in the lovely Hyatt hotel she encountered a new friend in the shower….a little frog somehow found its way up to their room! I’ll bet it hitched a ride in one of Lenki’s many shopping bags! lol…Off to bed for me….bus leaves for the race site at 7am sharp!!
Sunday, Oct 26th
Abreast In A Boat – Sarasota Team
On site at Nathan Benderson Park just as the sun comes up. The weekend has gone by way too fast. Our composite crew is in the “C” division semifinals and we have 2 races today. Karen and Lenki will be representing our AIAB crew in the Sandy Smith Global Race later in the afternoon. Meanwhile it’s tent city madness…everyone running around to find the perfect team shirt that they want to swap for, some last minute shopping and picture taking. Our Capt- Cathy Marr along with the crew pays a visit to the 2 host teams to present some thank you gifts from all of us. Kim Bonomo and Save Our Sisters from Miami and Paula Jennings and Pink Dragon Ladies from Tampa have put on the best participatory regatta to date and were most appreciative of our gifts.
The final A division races are completed and Knot Abreast from Lake Ontario is the winner! Way to go Canada! These 8 boats are now sitting at the end of the race course ready to join the 10 mixed crews taking part in the Sandy Smith Global Race. Our first AIAB president Brenda H. is giving the commentary on the history of the SSGR while all the teams and supporters line the white sandy beach to watch and listen. Who knew at the time that the mini drones would capture this precious moment with a beautiful photo taken overhead capturing the 18 dragon boats and onlookers on the shore line and it’s gone viral around the world in minutes!
Off to the closing ceremonies and the afternoon sun is beating down on us. Our founder, Dr. Don is the guest speaker for the closing ceremonies and congratulates us all on being survivors, warriors and athletes that have really made a difference in how those diagnosed with breast cancer can go on to lead active healthy lives. Dr. Don reminds us again to look to other parts of the world to spread our message.
It’s a wrap…we are all tired out and heading back to the Hyatt for a quick swim before our final wrap party at Florida’s oldest restaurant, the Columbia on Lido Key. Tonight is our last night together as a team as many are flying home in the morning and others are off on new adventures along the beautiful Gulf Coast of Florida. It’s been a truly amazing few days with a beautiful group of “sisters” from our crew and those from around the world that continue to live life to the fullest.
PS- Rumor mill has it that the 5th participatory regatta will be in Ravenna, Italy in 2017 or 2018……any bets???
VANCOUVER GLOBAL BC – They are all survivors, living through a battle against cancer, and last weekend they saved a man’s life.
The FLCC Fort-itude (Fort Langley Canoe Club, part of Abreast In A Boat) dragon boat team was about to begin its usual Saturday practice session in Fort Langley last Saturday, when they heard someone yelling for help.
FORTitude at 2013 Canadian National Dragonboat Championships
Turns out a man had been out for a row earlier in the day and had grown tired. When he went to remove one of his oars before pulling up to the dock he fell in to the water without a lifejacket on.
Jan Choquette was standing on the dock at the time. She is not part of Abreast In A Boat, but she is on a dragon boat team.
“I heard a man saying ‘help, I need help’ and I turned around and saw a man floundering in the water there,” she said.
She yelled at the people nearby for help and to call 9-1-1 and that is when her water-safety training kicked in.
“I pointed,” she said. “I kept my eye on him and I pointed at him, and that’s one thing that we’re told all the time and drilled every time we go out in the boat.”
Choquette said a man on the dock at the time also jumped into the water to swim towards the drowning man.
“And then the man, as he was floating down the river a bit, he kept yelling ‘help, help me’ and I called out to him time and again ‘help is coming, hold on,’” she said, “and I just kept walking and then I saw the fellow dive into the water, swim towards him and that’s when I saw you guys paddling down [the] river.”
The ‘you guys’ were the FLCC Fort-itude, who had heard the man’s cries from hundreds of metres away.
“And I said to our crew, ‘somebody needs help, let’s go’,” said Fort-itude member Heather Innes. “It was like doing a 500-metre race, from the other side of the bridge, coming down.”
As the group of women reached the two men in the water they threw them their extra lifejackets, their First Aid kit and a few lines.
“The girls on the team were so amazing,” said member Juanita Peglar.
“The fellow in the water was so cold, so weak, we tried to get him into the boat but he just said ‘I can’t do anything, I can’t do anything’,” she said.
They towed the two men to the shore where they sat for about 10 minutes until they began to feel stronger, and then they brought them to the main dock alongside the river.
By that time the paramedics had arrived.
“It was a scary thing,” said Peglar.
Choquette said it was a very emotional day and without all the people coming together to save this man the outcome could have been very different.
“The fellow who was in the water, he was not staying afloat,” she said. “He wasn’t able to swim, his head was going under the water, I think had it been in many more moments he wouldn’t have made it.”
The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of our crews paddling in the Women’s Regatta this year! You can see from the smiles on our faces we were having a great time. And what a day of racing! And weather! And fascinators! And boas! And Rocky Balboas! And dragon boats.
Congratulations to the Fort for winning the Breast Cancer Challenge Race at 2:49.91!
The below Video is of the Breast Cancer Challenge Race.