The Abreast In A Boat team was blessed with a beautiful sunny day for our 13th Annual CIBC Run for the Cure benefiting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Our team of 30+ family, friends and fellow paddlers were out bright and early on Sunday morning to take part in what has become an AIAB tradition. The Run for the Cure was started in 1992. In 1997 Anne Anthony started an AIAB team to participate in the Run and we have had a team every year since.

This year our team had the second highest team total in the Women’s category with just over $14,000!!! Top fundraisers again this year include: Vivian Omori, Marcia Rempel, Sandra Moffatt, Anne Anthony and Sheila Tynan.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the walk including those who made donations, helped to organize and who proudly carried the AIAB colours to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Marcia Rempel
Team Captain

I’m sure all those fortunate AIAB members who attended the 7th Annual Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival would agree that it’s one of the best organised & most embraced by a community! One composite AIAB attended & several individual members were on the Chilliwack team & a mid Island team. The theme this year was Medieval & that was very evident at the Friday Night Survivors Dinner. The AIAB paddlers definitely rose to the occasion with FABULOUS costumes!!!

The entertainment was excellent – a local theatre group did an interactive production of the era & everyone thoroughly enjoyed it! The dinner was followed by the Survivor Walk to the shore where we lit our candles & floated them on the water in memory of those gone before us, always a moving experience.

In the Breast Cancer Challenge Race, our AIAB Crew won our round & was pleased to place 6th in times out of the 11 survivor teams! The race was followed by the traditional emotional flower ceremony. The Go Rowing & Paddling Association’s expertise at the Docks was very much appreciated. As it turned out, the races were halted at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday due to high winds, keeping safety as the top priority. The results of the 14 final “unraced races” were calculated on the times from the first 3 rounds – our AIAB Crew ended up with 1st in the Jade C division!! So it was off to the Beer Garden early prior to our departure back to the Mainland.

Story and photos – Sherrill McKay

July 3rd – By 7:30 pm the crew had assembled in the lobby of the hotel where most of us were staying.  The rest of the crew were sprinkled within Whistler at a variety of places.
We received our final instructions from Coaches Debbie and Orrie and Manager Sharon. Eat light, drink light and no alcohol…huh?  What happened to eating chocolate and drinking red wine the night before racing?

July 4th – Most of us were up early to carpool to Rainbow Park on Alta Lake.  The venue was beautiful:sunshine, green grass, white tents, blue water and mountains!  The racer’s tent village was set up a short distance from the large grassy area where we could warm up.  We were so busy arriving and talking we missed the team parade to the opening ceremony.

The Mayor of Whistler welcomed everyone and we enjoyed a dragon dance and the dotting of the eye.  The races began and we were marshalled and ready for our first 200 m race.

The addition of paddling 100% for one minute and longer during practice paid off in the 200 m races in terms of strength and timing!  Well done, Barnet with times of 1:03:15 and 1:02:24 in our two 200 m races!

After a long lunch break when we could watch the other teams racing, we had our first 500 m race.  The wind had picked up and the water was choppy.  Lynne, our steers announced: “Use the tailwind”!  We had a great start – strong, deep strokes and in spite of waves, we had a strong, steady race: 2:42:09.  That was it for the day.  Glad to get out of the sun, we packed up and headed back to the hotel for showers before the Paddlers Party at the Longhorn: burgers, beer/wine and lots of laughs!

July 5th – Another very early morning and we were back at Rainbow Park for a very early race.  Good time: 2:49:47 for second place!  Then the fun began – the Obstacle Race.  It was great fun to have the drummer and steers using their muscles for a change!  Barnet came in second in our heat – very exciting – but more than that it was a great way to cool off!

Our last race was a ‘leave it all on the water’ race and we did just that!  No one in the boat spoke after the “let it run”.  Back to the shore and a time of 2:40:09.  That was it for the Barnet crew.  We all packed up and went our separate ways.

Whistler was a great opportunity to spread Breast Cancer awareness at a new venue that is one of the more beautiful places to race.  Barnet was so glad to be a part of the AIAB team that participated.  We all had a fantastic weekend and it was a great way to end the season.

Once again there was a Breast Cancer Challenge Race and the most moving flower ceremony I have ever witnessed. Jane Mann’s words were powerful. Our sisters from Abreast of Life were first but we are all winners!

Story – Captain Black Spot Dot (aka Dorothy Fenning)
Photos – Kerry & Orrie Babiuk

The weekend of June 19th to 21st 2009, the World Rose Festival was held at the new Vancouver Convention Centre. Many AIAB members volunteered at the Select Roses display to assist in selling the new AIAB ROSE hybridized by Brad Jalbert of Select Roses.

Awareness was also spread about AIAB & breast cancer to hundreds who attended from all over the World!

Story and Photos – Sherrill McKay

The occasion was also to celebrate their use of the new Fort Langley Dock & Community Room. Dozens of Family, Friends, AIAB members & Sponsors attended the Event & took part in the Fort to Fort Walk & Paddling! A sumptuous Picnic Buffet rounded out the day!

Story and Photos – Sherrill McKay

On Saturday June 6, 2009 AIAB volunteers, representing all 5 of our crews, proved to some brave Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) staff and volunteers that dragon boating is indeed a water sport, and that healthy competition is a lot of fun.

Jessica Erickson, an enthusiastic CBCF logistics staff member, and our President Jane Mann, were in the planning stages for months. As we all know, the annual Run for the Cure event is a significant fundraiser for the CBCF. Each year CBCF brings their volunteer race directors from around the province to the lower mainland for a weekend team building and training session. This year their surprise team-building event was a paddle with Abreast in a Boat.

The unsuspecting newbies from CBCF represented the two major divisions of CBCF volunteers; Logistics and Fundraising. We quickly found out that there is a healthy rivalry between these two groups. Each year’s team-building event involves a competition, and the trophy (a charming pink gnome) makes his way back and forth between the two groups. CBCF BC/Yukon Chapter CEO Linda Morris was present to support (and of course paddle with) her volunteers and staff.

After the traditional warm-up led by Margaret Hobson, AIAB outfitted our guests with lifejackets, paddles, and some on-land instruction by coaches Margaret Hobson and Deb Thiessen, then we were off on the water. A paddle out to the Cambie Street Bridge allowed the newbies to refine their paddling skills. They were amazing, and looked like pro’s by the time we arrived. Racing was on their mind, so of course we obliged! With the prized pink gnome at stake the paddling was furious, the laughter plentiful, and the Logistics team became the guardians of Mr Gnome for the next year.

Team Photo- CBCF Run Directors and AIAB volunteers

A great time was had by all, and we were all grateful for the opportunity to come together and host one of our major sponsors. We look forward to participating in the Run for the Cure next October. Thanks to all the CBCF Run Directors for volunteering their time for such a great cause.

(L-R) President Jane Mann and pink gnome winner

CBCF gifts to AIAB

Story – Glenda MacDonald
Photos – Blair Mann & Sheila Tynan

SAVING THE GIRLS GOLF TOURNAMENT was held on Friday June 5th at the Country Meadows Golf Course in Richmond. The proceeds of the tournament go towards breast cancer research & the 45 members of TEAM LIVESTRONG who’ll be walking in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer in August.

AIAB members who participated include: back row: Juanita Peglar, Catherine Almrud, Heather Trenholm, Judi Clark, Gail Bonner, Pat McCuaig front row: Heather Innes, Carol Curtis, Anita Cochrane, Jean Driscoll-Bell, Sherrill McKay

Jean Driscoll-Bell was the trophy winner for the Ladies Longest Drive!

Story & Photos – Sherrill McKay

Good morning everyone and welcome to the SCOTIABANK BREAST CANCER CHALLENGE RACE!

SCOTIABANK is the Platinum Dragon Level Sponsor for Abreast in a Boat and we are delighted to name our breast cancer challenge race after them. We would not be able to put our crews on the water without the generous and continued support of partners in paddling and in particular SCOTIABANK. The first challenge race took place in 1999 and SCOTIABANK has been our lead sponsor ever since. SCOTIABANK – WE THANK YOU!!!

This is our first year hosting this event at the False Creek Women’s Dragon Boat Regatta and I would like to thank Inna Shekhtman and the False Creek Women’s Dragonboat Association for helping us put on this very meaningful and exciting race.

Based on the model of Abreast in a Boat which was established in 1996, there are now over 130 breast cancer teams worldwide ….what a tremendous accomplishment!

It has become an important tradition at dragon boating regattas all over the world to perform pink flower ceremonies in honour of breast cancer survivors and in honour of loved ones lost to this terrible disease. Every year the pink flower ceremony gains more significance as more and more of us are touched by breast cancer and more and more lives are lost to this disease. One in nine women will develop this disease over their lifetime.

One of our best defenses against breast cancer is early detection. This disease can be beaten and has by so many. Just take a moment to look at our survivors on the water, and know there are many more off the water as well! So why do only 49% of women get regular mammograms? Breast Cancer is a very smart and insidious disease, we need to fight it with everything we can, so ladies, PLEASE, go and get your mammogram this week!

Linda Morris and Haifa Staiti of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation are with us today to support our fight, our mission and our hope that you all maintain good breast health.

Some of these cancers are preventable through diet and exercise. Many studies have been done supporting this theory and the positive impact exercise has against breast cancer. This further increases the relevance of breast cancer survivors’ dragon boating. Not only may it help fight breast cancer, but it also supports our mission that we can lead full and active lives after a breast cancer diagnosis!

Participating in dragon boating also offers many other positive experiences to a breast cancer survivor, such as regaining control of our lives after treatment, and creating a new balance in our lives. It demands the best of us physically and mentally, and helps remind us to make the most of every moment. Anxieties are reduced waiting for doctor appointments and test results together and a safety net is provided in the event of a recurrence. Dragon boat team members fill in the spaces when our wonderful, supportive families cannot. The connection found within breast cancer dragon boat paddlers is such a strong, strong bond that, like our spirits, will never, ever break.

As you can see, immediately following the SCOTIABANK BREAST CANCER CHALLENGE RACE, the survivor teams raft together in a place on the water where the audience on shore can be a part of the ceremony. Each paddler on the water has been given a pink flower that represents those that have lost their race against breast cancer, and to offer hope to those who continue to fight this disease and cannot be on the water with us.

The teams with us today are:

North Shore Dragonbusters from North Vancouver
Spirit Abreast from the Fraser Valley
Sunshine Dragons Abreast from the Sunshine Coast
Lock Noose Dragons from Nanoose Bay

As well as the five Abreast in a Boat crews:

Abreast on the Creek
Abreast in Barnet
Abreast in Richmond
Abreast Deas Divas
Abreast with FORT-itude

The BOSS Boat – a boat of special survivors, close friends and sponsors

These paddlers will let go of the f lowers into the water, but they will never let go of the spirit of those they honour.

To further appreciate the moment we would like you to share with us, a very special song will be sung by Elaine Copp, Lori Barnson and Jan Barnson. This is THE RIVER written by GARTH BROOKS.


The Abreast With FORT-itude crew participated at the Women’s Regatta held on May 22nd at Creekside Park. The Crew was successful in winning the Scotiabank Breast Cancer Challenge Trophy with the best time in the 8 team breast cancer survivor races!

Some of the Crew “sneaks a peek” while “holding the boat” just over the finish line in the Breast Cancer Challenge race!

Lynne Weber of Scotiabank presents the trophy to FORT-itude Co-Captain Sue Grouette.


As I ponder my tiger striped feet (courtesy of Keen shoes), I reflect on a great day on the water.  It seemed like the first race of the day was a shakedown.  Practicing in the Doriana always makes racing in BUK boats a bit rocky before we find our sea legs.  We will have to work on that!  Barnet had a good second race in the first Breast Cancer Challenge Race heat.  We have a great start this year and along with our ‘gung-ho’ first years (novices) we did well.  Lynne our steers did an admirable job of positioning the boat so we could watch the second heat.  The rafting for the flower ceremony went well and some of us could hear Anita’s passionate speech.  Tears flowed and flowers were thrown.  It was great to see the BOSS boat, steered by Dr. Don.  Big thanks go to Fortitude for bringing home the Scotiabank trophy!

In our third race our start was strong but we lagged and our finish didn’t have oomph!  At the debriefing, our coaches dissected the race and detailed what was missing.  Well, we listened and we showed ‘em in the last race with a win!  Thanks go to Debbie Middleton, Orrie Babiuk, Brenda Tierney and Lynne Davis whose direction and support mean a lot to us paddlers!  We have lots to work on before our final races of the season at Whistler!

Story – Captain Black Spot Dot! (Dorothy Fenning)

Anita at the microphone
Our newest family member is Mason, son of Amy, grandson of Francoise Doe.
And of course Sharon is our wonderful Manager.

Photos by Glenda MacDonald, Kerry Babiuk, Lyn Davis, Michelle Voros, Sheila Tynan, Sherrill McKay

Several of the Abreast with FORT-itude Crew did the Survivor lap on May 22nd in support of the Relay for Life. Some of the group had also attended a Pub Fundraiser supporting the “Gallery Gals” from Birthplace of BC Gallery in Fort Langley. We didn’t do the “all nighter” as the next day was the False Creek Women’s Regatta!

Gail Bonner, Joyce Booth, Brenda Alberts (BC Gallery) & Heather Innes

Sherrill McKay, Marie Renholm, Joyce Booth, Peggy Howard, Heather Innes, Gail Bonner & Peggy’s dog Brody!

Photos by Sherrill & another innocent bystander!