Maple Ridge native, Leila Oimet, paddler with our AIAB – FORT-itude crew, in Fort Langley, tells her story of her journey through breast cancer, her novice year with her AIAB team and her plans for the future which will include enjoying the camaraderie and exercise in the upcoming 2013 season.


Drum RestorationThis Summer a group of Japanese Students restored our Dragon Boat Drums.

Read the letter from their teacher, Marie Payne, a friend of one of our Originals, Debbie Middleton, then see the photos of the drum’s before and after shots and read the hand written letters from the Japanese students, from Hiroshima, who were Homestay students attending Meadowridge School.


Deas, Fortitude, Richmond and Rocky Point crews joined 80 teams July 6 – 8, 2012 at the very popular Save-On-Foods Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival in Maffeo Sutton Park. It was a first for the Rocky Point crew as a whole but definitely won’t be the last.

This was the 10th Annual Festival and since 2003 has raised nearly $500,000 for the purchase of diagnostic equipment for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. This Festival donates 100% of the net proceeds to the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation to assist in improving the diagnostic-treatment process of Breast Cancer patients. They state on their website that this Festival is where “paddlers are united in the fight to beat cancer”.

This year’s theme was The Sixties – The Hippy Phase so Friday evening we donned our best “flower power” hippie garb and descended upon the waterfront for an evening of fun, dining and dancing at the Survivors Dinner. Our BCS host teams from Nanaimo put on an outstanding dinner supplied by Save-On-Foods for 11 breast cancer teams under a very large white tent decorated very boldly. At 9pm all BCS teams, many other paddlers and on-lookers headed down to the Sway-a-Lana Lagoon at the water’s edge for the sunset Candles for Courage ceremony. A lone piper led the way from our dining area and played while we all walked the circle around the lagoon with our candles lit in a small plastic bowl. We thought of those we wanted to remember and let the candles float away on the lagoon.

Saturday and Sunday were days for racing with 3-4 lanes per race, challenging water but sunny, sunny days… yahoo! We shared the water way with power boats, sailboats, paddle boards and seaplanes – therefore the challenging water. The Athletes Village tents were all in a grassy area of the park with shade trees. Food vendors, merchandise, a kid’s zone, entertainment bandstand and beer garden rounded out the outer area. On Saturday the women’s races didn’t start until 11:30am – the organizers do this on purpose so we can all enjoy the survivors dinner the night before! Our two Saturday races were mostly for seeding and Sunday’s races were very exciting to watch and race.

The standings for AIAB crews overall were:

Abreast with Fortitude – 2nd in the Women’s Gold Final A
Abreast Deas Divas – 1st in the Women’s Gold Final B
Abreast at Rocky Point – 3rd in the Women’s Gold Final B
Abreast in Richmond – 1st in the Women’s Silver Final B

In the Breast Cancer Races:
Abreast with Fortitude – 1st in the A category
Abreast Deas Divas – 1st in the B category
Abreast at Rocky Point – 3rd in the B category
Abreast in Richmond – 2nd in the C category

The highlight of the whole weekend was the 8 team raft (the other three teams lined the wharf and shore) for the Carnation Ceremony. While waiting to get organized we were given our carnations, bottles of water and were the recipients of buckets of water thrown on us to keep us cool!

We thank the organizers, participants, Peter the crew Marshall and most especially the volunteers (in which Sunday was ALL volunteers). Every person had such enthusiasm and big smiles… they treat the BCS teams very well.

Deb Legree
Photos by Ken McVay

Check out the videos of our Flower Ceremony at the regatta, Flower Ceremony video 1 and Flower Ceremony video 2

Golden Spike Days at Rocky Point

Well it was a little soggy on June 30th, 2012 for the Golden Spike Days but thanks to the initiative and the efforts of our Communications Chair, Diane and Vice Chair, Linda, paddlers were available to take the Doriana out (with dragon head and tail I might add!) to proudly show her off to Port Moody and to demonstrate just what it is we do on the water. Linda and Diane had paddlers organized to go out about every hour in the afternoon and despite the drizzle, it was fun to see our ever ready volunteers helping on the water or at the booth. A big thank you goes to Linda and Diane for your tireless efforts to promote AIAB and thank you as well to the volunteers who so graciously give of your time to support us.

Judi Clark
Photos by Steve Smith of World of Stock

What a day!  It must have been one of the rainiest regattas we have ever attended.  Some spectacular times were recorded by the AIAB crews.

CIBC sponsored the Breast Cancer Championship race with the Edmonton Breast Friends coming in first, the North Shore Dragon Busters in second place and Abreast at Rocky Point winning third.  Well done, Rocky Point!

June 16, 2012 was proclaimed Abreast In A Boat Day by the acting mayor of Vancouver.  This is an exceptional honour.  Linda Arato once again read out the Flower Ceremony speech.  Unfortunately, the microphone failed and we couldn’t hear her inspiring words.  The seven boats rafted on the water spontaneously broke into the chorus from “The River”.  It was amazing!  Then with the call of 1-2-3 we all tossed our pink carnations into the water of False Creek.  It is always a moving moment in a powerful ceremony.

Needless to say we packed up quickly to head home for warm showers and baths – warm clothes and warm thoughts of a good day.

Photos by Bal Dosanj

It was a beautiful, sunny West Coast day on May 26, 2012 with no clouds in a blue, blue sky.  Even though the early morning was a tad chilly, it warmed up nicely.  It was nice to be greeted with a light breakfast of muffins, fruit and coffee organized by the Regatta people and the Board.  Thanks go to all who worked so hard on organizing this regatta.

As usual, the AIAB crews had a great showing in all their races.  The Breast Cancer Challenge Race is so important for raising awareness and the Flower Ceremony is always especially moving for our Novices.  Linda Arato’s speech was amazing.  It was one time we could actually hear it.  Although the song went on too long we did our sing-a-long until with some laughter we threw our flowers into the water.  All of us were remembering those paddlers, friends and family who have passed with sadness and a touch of nostalgia.

It was a long day, topped off by our ‘every other year’ group AIAB photo.  It is important to have a recent and spectacular photo of us to be used on promotional material and ready for any wonderful media attention.

Well done all!

Photos by:  Wendy Matsubuchi and Carol Turnbull

May Day Parade in Fort Langley – May 21, 2012

I am so impressed with all of you who were able to come out today… what a great job and great teamwork from everyone! We did get a bit soggy but hey… we’re used to it!

A huge THANK YOU to our sister paddlers and their families from DEAS who joined us! We truly appreciate your support.
To all of our dragon-bearers you were great with your “serpentining” which definitely wowed the spectators. From Marie’s vantage point in the front car she could hear the spectators getting excited and saying “Hey, there’s a dragon coming!”

And I know our chant was new to many of you but you sounded like you’d been doing it forever! Our banner-bearers, walkers and drivers did a wonderful job and we were all able to get our word out and show the crowd that there is life after breast cancer!

Thank you so much to all the AIAB members/paddlers, family and friends for their support and help today.

Paddles Up,
Peggy Howard

The Dash for Charity

April 28, 2012 was a gray day with some raindrops and choppy water. The Deas Divas, Fortitude and Rocky Point crews participated. All Novices are no longer race virgins! The shorter races at 250 meters provide an interesting first race experience. It was a great time to visit with our friends on different crews too. Everyone did very well in the first regatta of the season.


Photo by Hilton Shandler

12-Nite-of-Hope-RichmondPhoto taken April 4, 2012
Richmond members that attended the Nite of Hope.

Spring was definitely in the air at our Season’s Opener which took place on March 18, 2012 at Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver. Thank you to Evelyn Smoliak and her merry band of volunteers who set up a wonderful spread of goodies brought by AIAB members. There was a wonderful assortment of teas and coffee for the caffeiners. The attending Novices entered to the song “Pretty Woman” and were introduced by “Original” Carol Dale to loud applause.

The highlight, of course, was the Spring Hat competition. First Place was awarded to Karen Sabourin of the Deas Divas. In Second Place was Alina Oleksiak of Richmond and Third Place went to Geri Madden of Rocky Point. Please note that the winners were all Novices!

A good time was had by all – great to visit with old and new friends. Another special start to the 2012 Paddling Season.