The inaugural 1st INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT FEDERATION (IDBF) CANCER SURVIVORS WORLD CUP 2011 held in conjunction with MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL (MIDBF) took place at the Putrajaya Water Sports Complex from October 20 to 23, 2011. I was very fortunate to be on the crew representing Abreast In A Boat at this regatta.
Most of the crew arrived a few days before the regatta and we stayed at the Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel, conveniently located across the street from the race site. This beautiful five star hotel featured a fabulous breakfast buffet every morning, offering endless healthy and delicious choices to start the day, getting us through the race days where there was little time for nourishment between races.
Each day during our stay in Malaysia started out with clear skies and sunshine, about 30+ degrees and very humid. With the exception of the two days we raced, every afternoon featured a torrential downpour, followed by rain in varying degrees of intensity. The rain was so heavy at times, I swear it would have sunk the boats if it had happened during the races. It was probably a good thing to be in Malaysia during their “rainy season”, as the temperatures would have been even higher without the rain to cool things off each day.
We paddled in four races on Saturday, taking one bronze and one silver medal, both with 22-person crews. On Sunday, we had an unprecedented eight races and managed to bring home two more bronze medals, one with a 12-person crew and the other with a 22-person crew. My focus at regattas has always been on having fun and the excitement of the race – getting medals is a bonus I hadn’t even considered.
Many thanks to our Manager, Brenda Tierney, who kept us organized and in the boat on time, despite the disorganization and many changes to the race schedule.
The wind-up party took place at the Zouk Club in Kuala Lumpur on the Sunday evening. There was a delicious buffet dinner and lots of dancing in this modern high tech nightclub.
We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day for our 14th annual Run for the Cure, benefitting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, one of the major sponsors and supporters of Abreast In A Boat. Our numbers were down this year, but we still were able to raise almost $10,000 with our team of 19.
I believe that the last time our numbers were down, both in participants and dollars was the Australia year, so being an international year might have had some bearing on our numbers. I fully expect next year to have a larger representation of Abreast In A Boat members! 🙂
I had an interesting experience at the Run this year when I visited the Survivor Tent. Actually, it was two interesting things. I was going to enter a draw for a prize that was meant to go to a breast cancer survivor and the volunteer was reluctant to let me enter as it was supposed to be for breast cancer survivors only. I had to point to my shirt and explain that I was a member of AIAB which also meant that I was a survivor! I was very surprised as I thought everyone knew about AIAB!
She then proceeded to do the same thing to the next lady who approached her, who also happened to look youngish for having had breast cancer. When this lady, too, explained that she was a survivor, I turned to her and asked if she was interested in dragon boating. As it turns out, she was and I hope that she looks us up! (at least our message is reaching breast cancer survivors!)
What also surprised me was that the pre-conceived notion is still out there that breast cancer only happens to older women. We are living proof that this is not the case. Point in fact is that some of our members were diagnosed in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and we should be celebrating that they are still with us 10, 15 and 20 years later! Does dragon boating play a role in that? I think so!
We also had the added bonus of having some video clips made of us which will be used in future fundraising efforts by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. It was fun to feel like a star for a day! Lastly, thanks to all of the supporters that also came out and walked with us: spouses, children, family, friends, and dogs.
Many thanks to all the AIAB members who helped make our Second Annual Novice Paddle a great success. We had 22 prospective novices join us for a lovely paddle on False Creek Saturday afternoon and judging by the responses and smiles of our guests they all seemed to have a great time.
A special thanks to Deb Thiessen who coached one of the crews and Eleanor Vandergaag and Judi Clark for steering. Also thanks to Leslie Lewis who ensured we had enough AIAB paddlers and volunteers to help with the event. I would also like to acknowledge the warm AIAB welcome you extended to our prospective new members and the sharing of your personal experiences with AIAB. This was truly a novice focused event.
It was a wet, gray day but the mood of all the participants at the 31st Terry Fox Run in Port Coquitlam was sunny. Esther Matsubichi, Deb Middleton, Rebecca Chapman, Marcia Rempel, Susan Beye, Susan Anthony and I along with our supporters were on hand to hear speeches by Premier Christy Clark, Mayor Greg Moore and Rolly Fox. His brief tribute to his wife Betty had many of us feeling teary. Esther was interviewed by CKNW prior to the Run. We were part of Terry’s Team of 31 cancer survivors. You may have seen us on CBC, Global or CTV News in our special red T-shirts at the start line.
We are very proud of the composite crew that competed at the Steveston Regatta this year. The weather was beautiful and the crew was full of spirit. There were members from virtually every AIAB crew – which was great!
We had four great races and seemed to improve with each one. When “finish it now” was called the boat just seemed to jump. This was a strong crew! We took second place in Division E.
We would like to thank Coach Margaret, Steers Judi, Drummer Lita and Manager Sheila for making this such a great experience for us all.
Another great showing ladies! You have a lot to be proud of!
What a fabulous weekend culminating in a medal which was just the icing on the cake, the cherry on top! Patricia and Jane – thank you for all your hard work and dedication.
Our waterfront accommodations served us just fine and a huge thanks to Ysa for getting us a place to lay our heads at night. We had a delightful 15 minute walk to the race site along the waterfront. The weather cooperated with sunshine both days.
Friday night we donned our Caribbean hats and costumes for the Survivor Dinner – quite a colourful bunch as you can see from the picture. As dusk approached, a bagpiper led us to the water’s edge where we lit candles and set them afloat.
We had time to enjoy the sunshine on our balcony Saturday morning before walking to the race site for our first race at 11:40 am. The water was pretty rough and the start abrupt, but as always, with Elisabeth steering us, all went well and we managed a time of 2:46:92. Our second race at 3:30 pm was 2:43:27. Saturday evening we partied it up in true Diva style with appies, then an early end to the evening since we were up early.
Sunday morning our first race was at 8:20 am and our time was 2:42:55. Do you see a pattern here? We are getting faster each race! This last race advanced us to Women’s Gold Final A at 2:10 pm, but before that, we had the Breast Cancer Challenge Race.
There were ten teams and we were the only original breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. We came in fifth. It was a beautiful flower ceremony and as usual, memories, tears and emotions ran through the boats. As we came off the dock, the arch of paddles and supporters seemed to stretch forever, a pretty special and emotional moment for us all I suspect.
Back to serious business at 2:10 pm with our finals race – Elisabeth in a rare moment urging us on with “You can win this”! From the shore our manager, Dianne was jumping up and down, shouting: “My team”! We came in third with a time of 2:39:55 – an improvement of 7.37 seconds from our first race on Saturday!
We had time before the ferry for a cool one in the beer garden where we danced around with our medals like lunatics!
So many smiles and laughs in one weekend. We missed our fellow team mates unable to join us. Thank you Cathy, Gail, Marcia, Neoma, Sandy and Tracey for joining the Divas for the regatta and to Debbie for coming along to support us.
In closing, I’ll join the love fest – you are an amazing group of women – it’s been an amazing season.
Go Divas! Paddles Up!
Blue skies at last! Sunshine! Lovely water and great fun!
As always AIAB members are Winners on land and water. Congratulations to FORT – itude and the Deas Divas for the fastest times in the Scotiabank Breast Cancer Challenge Race! All that training in the currents of the Bedford channel paid off for our Fort Langley crew while our Divas were a close second. Abreast Up the Creek won their last race of the day while Richmond and Barnet were often neck in neck.
The parade of costumes was a wild success which Barnet won for their clever current event theme – pink women seek green men tribute to the Canucks. And we all looked very cool in our new Sundog Shades.
We were honoured to have Lynne Weber of Scotiabank present the certificate for winning the Challenge Race with branch manager Rob Edwardsen also witnessing the race. Both were very impressed and touched by the flower ceremony and the dedication of AIAB. Our boat of survivors and supporters (BOSS) steered by Amanda Chan, Race Director of the Regatta, was a special part of our Flower Ceremony.
Linda Morris, CEO of CBCF and Haifa Staiti were present to thank us for the support we provide for their events and to announce that $52,000 is being granted to breast cancer dragon boat teams in B.C.
Ellen Woodworth, Deputy Mayor of Vancouver cycled in to offer her congratulations to all the breast cancer teams.
Thanks to everyone who helped to make this an exciting and joyful day.