Abreast With FORT-itude – wins the Silver Medal in the Breast Cancer division at the Canadian National Dragonboat Championships on Elk Lake, August 2013.  FORT-itude is now eligible to attend the World Club Crew Championships in Ravenna Italy in 2014.


Fortitude's Silver Medal

Fortitude at Elk Lake

PageLines- 13-cdb-championship-silver.jpg

The Richmond crew attended the Steveston Dragonboat Festival on August 24th. It was a fun and beautiful day for racing.

Richmond Crew

Richmond Crew

Richmond paddling off to the races

Richmond paddling off to the races

Off to the races

Off to the races

With supporters

With supporters

At the finish line

At the line

Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival put on a great 25th Anniversary regatta with attendance from crews around North America. It was extremely well organized, on time, and had lots to offer in food, entertainment, merchandise, and beverages for crews and spectators both.

Rio Tinto must have ordered ‘no rain’ and the sun shone. Racing on a sunny day is always so much nicer than racing in the rain (think last year with buckets of rain coming down – all day long). CIBC generously hosted a Breast Cancer Survivor’s Village where nine crews were able to set up our tents together for two days of camaraderie and fun . With three races on Saturday and two races on Sunday it was a full weekend of racing. 

Kamini’s dog, Taro, is obviously partial to AIAB as she was spotted wearing one of our crew shirts.  Custom made and fit to her petite size she did fit in rather well with the rest of us pink ladies.

The Breast Cancer Challenge Race was a race to the finish with FORT-itude beating out the San Diego crew by half of a second. The medals were exceptionally big and beautiful this year.

The Breast Cancer Challenge race:

Abreast with Fortitude 2.34.45
Team Survivor 2.34.85
Abreast Deas Divas 2.36.24
Breast Friends Edmonton 2.36.94
North Shore Dragon Busters 2.43.86
Abreast at Rocky Point 2.44.63
Abreast Richmond 2.50.62
Abreast Up the Creek 2.57.58

The organizers of RTA “pulled out all stops” in making our Friday night Flower Ceremony very special for all the breast cancer survivors, and their supporters.

With over 230 teams participating in the Saturday competition, it was felt that the ceremony could not be given the time it deserved, so changing it to Friday evening during the RTA opening celebrations seemed like a great idea. Listening to the comments from the people on shore, and from the paddlers, it was a good decision as the focus was on the ceremony.

At dusk the boats loaded at Creekside and paddled under the bridge and into the lagoon at the Olympic Village. Everyone watching from shore was spellbound as the paddlers slowly started to appear one by one and then quietly rafted together. You could tell by the looks on the faces of the paddlers who have done this before that something very special and solemn was about to happen.

The viewing area was perfect with two bridges to watch from, and large rocks leading down to the water to sit on.

Judi Clark, our President, welcomed the out of town breast cancer survivor teams participating in the Ceremony. The teams included Team Survivor Sea Dragons, San Diego, CA, Breast Friends, Edmonton, AB, Live Love Survive, SF Bay Area, CA, and of course the North Shore Dragon Busters who are our sisters. Judi let the Breast Friends team from Edmonton know that our thoughts and prayers were with their and families and friends living in the Calgary area who were recently devastated by the flooding.

Deputy Mayor George Affleck read the Mayor’s Proclamation naming Saturday, June 22nd as “Abreast In A Boat and Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Day”. We shared the naming of the day with RTA in acknowledgement of their 25th year celebration of dragon boating in Vancouver. As this was where Abreast In A Boat got its start it seemed very fitting to present RTA with the framed Proclamation to display in their offices.

When the Flower Ceremony speech was delivered by Judi, we had a minute of silence to remember those who have lost their battle with breast cancer before tossing the flowers into the water. A fire performer standing at the water’s edge created a flower of fire and ignited the torches of the performers on stilts who led the procession of torches and people out of the lagoon into the stage area. The grand finale was a shower of fire works raining down from the bridge signifying the end of the ceremony.

The only sounds that could be heard where those of the steer’s quietly giving directions to the paddlers to head out of the lagoon back to the dock. What a picture it made as the boats one by one glided across the calm dark water into the shadows of the night. With the moon shining down on them it created a beautiful silhouette. It was a vision which I will hold in my memory for sometime.

We were honored to have had several of our original members join us in the boats, and glad to have been able to gather them together for a group picture. No one has aged a bit after 18 years! We give thanks to these courageous women who volunteered to be part of the original study from which Abreast In A Boat was created. Without them we would not be on the water today enjoying paddling and spreading our message: “that it is possible to live a full and active life after a breast cancer diagnosis”. Thank you ladies!

Linda Hopwo

Photo Gallery

Click on an image to view full sized.


Well girls, it must be what we are eating for breakfast, because we pulled off our third Gold medal this season at the Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival!! And, we also got Bronze in the Diamond “A” Division, a real step up for us.

It was a fabulous weekend, I am still on a high. Nanaimo knows how to put on a party. The theme this year was “So You Think You Can Dance”. At the evening party each team got up to “perform” ….. most were hilarious and a few downright awesome. Our gangnam style dance with tuxedo t-shirts and bowler hats with hot pink trim made us look pretty smart. I don’ t know who their dj is over there but every year the music has everyone dancing ALL weekend long. What good medicine. No wonder Nanaimo folks are so happy!

Two of our teammates got their heads shaved for charity at the medal ceremony yesterday. They raised $3,400 for the Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation towards a breast cancer imaging machine (recipient of the weekend’s funds) and half for the ALS Society (Sheila, our Richmond crew manager, has ALS)….. awesome, emotional.

On Friday night after our dinner/party onsite, we all went down to the water with floating candles to the strains of a lone bagpiper. After some words and a beautiful song, we set the candles afloat to remember those who are no longer with us. Then on Sunday,after the breast cancer challenge race, the breast cancer teams and probably 2,000 spectators gathered around the lagoon for a beautiful pink flower ceremony. Attached is a short video of part of the candelight ceremony.

So now we continue working out all summer heading for Nationals in Victoria in late August.

Carol Short


Watch the video of the Friday night candlelight ceremony

IMG_3821 13NanaimoFlowerCeremony 13NanaimoBefore 13NanaimoAfter13NanaimoFortGangam IMG_3815 IMG_3826

Our participation at Golden Spike Days at Rocky Point was a huge success.  Abreast In A Boat offered free dragon boat rides alternating every half hour with the Nothin Dragon Seniors Team from 1:00 – 5:00pm.  Within an hour or so the rides were booked for the entire day!

The Information Booth was set up inside the gates as well as a small one set up down by the water and dock.   This one was shared with the Nothin Dragon team, and where the  waivers were signed and PFD’s and paddles were handed out.  We were visible everywhere!

Thanks to all our members who volunteered their time to help with the paddling demos, and with the setting up, manning, and dismantling of the Information Booth.

A special thanks goes to Lynn Davis who has spend endless hours working with the organizers of the event, and our recruiting our membership to ensure our success.

A thank you also goes to Lisa Tildsley from Fortitude who came to enjoy Golden Spike Days with her hubby, arriving with her paddle in hand in case we needed her.

The Doriana looked resplendent complete with her head, tail and drum.  Our sea of pink created quite a picture both on the grounds and on the water.  Some of us got a little carried away with the dragon stamps and had imitation tattoos all over our bodies.  Not a good look!

We consider it a great day at the Information Booth when we get three people very interested in joining our organization!

Linda Hopwo

13GoldenSpike5 13GoldenSpike0 13GoldenSpike2 13GoldenSpike4

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.

Adriana Bartoli, a novice with the Deas Divas, is originally from Argentina and is passionate about starting an AIAB crew in her homeland. Adriana contacted the newspaper Clarin, considered to be the most important and independent newspaper in Argentina, about her desire to start an AIAB crew in Argentina. The newspaper responded enthusiastically to Adriana and through email interviews with the paper and articles Adriana sent them as background information, they published an article, with photos, on their website about AIAB and starting the first dragon boat crew in Argentina. And yes ladies, many of us are now known to Argentina. The paper was so enthused by AIAB that they are planning a special edition article in October during breast cancer awareness month. The article is in Spanish but some browsers have a Translate feature where it can be translated into English.  Link to article

Adriana was also recently interviewed live on Co-Op Radio, Spanish station Romantic Tango, promoting AIAB to the Spanish audience. They were also impressed with Adriana and her message about AIAB and she was invited back for another live interview in October during breast cancer awareness month.

Adriana is a novice but unfortunately due to health reasons was only able to paddle the first few practices. However that has not stopped her from being a very valuable member of the crew. She attends most practices and sits at the back of the boat and uses her aeronautical engineering skills and calculates the knot speed, stroke rate, current and not sure that is even correct but she calculates something and then computes our rate of exertion, speed, strokes and more. She is also our official photographer and snaps great shots on the boat during practice and can be seen with her daughter roaming the regattas for her unique photos.

In June the Rocky Point crew of Abreast In A Boat with the much appreciated addition of Karen L from Deas headed south to the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. The Dragon Boat Races running on June 8th and 9th 2013 are a big part of their Rose Festival.

All our crew members managed to arrive for the Friday 5pm meeting in the lobby of the Marriott Residence Inn on the riverfront, minutes away from the marshalling area and docks. An eventful practice began at 6:30pm under the direction of Jeannie and Annie from Pink Phoenix, our hosts for the weekend. Now, you have to realize that these are Kaohsiung or Taiwanese dragon boats and very different from the BUKs or Six-Sixteens we are using. They are wider and three can sit abreast in the seat. The huge, beautifully painted dragon’s head and tail are permanently fixed to the boat. You sit higher and the gunwale is lower. The paddles have a longer shaft and flare. The steering oar is longer, heavier and is fitted through a large hole in the tail. As Lynne found out there is no platform to stand on.

We formed our line-up and got in the boat. We had to paddle out of the basin and into the river. Steering is a slightly (!) different operation. The water was choppy – no problem for us but it was windy too! Next thing – boom – Lynne was in the water! Or more correctly – half in the water! In a spectacular move with Mary and Del helping she was back in the boat and getting out to the start line for a practice race. Times for races are longer. The race pace is slower because of the size of these K boats. It is nice to be able to have perfect form and be able to set up each stroke. Foot placement was also slightly different and the ability to rotate was somewhat limited. We all used the short practice time to work out the kinks! Then it was off to the Pub for a late supper with Jeannie and Annie. A short walk back to the hotel in a beautiful setting and all turned in ready for the racing the next day.

On Saturday we had three races. We came in third in our first race much to the amazement of the team we beat! We were in the Women’s division and some of the crews were very young! There was strict security and we all had to be picture identified after each race. I overheard a young whipper-snapper call us the “wild card”! Obviously someone underestimated our strength, stamina and desire to place well!

The next race was the Gorman Cup. This is a breast cancer survivor race in honour of Pink Phoenix founding member and first Captain Michele Gorman who passed away in the spring of 1998 and as well as raising awareness it was a fun race. There were four boats and the paddlers from the breast cancer teams were all mixed up and wearing lots of pink bling. We also were carrying breast cancer survivors in the seats between the paddlers! The winning boat was steered by our Lynne and the drummer was our Carol! Way to go, ladies!

We came in fourth (out of four) in our third and last race of the day. Not bad since we were never very far behind and the times of all the boats were close! We helped pack up chairs etc. and then it was off shopping, sightseeing, walking, and hot-tubbing before meeting for a team dinner.

On Sunday we were in the quarter-finals and placed third again. Our second and final race was the consolation final in section 2 and we gave it our all! Reports from shore had us neck in neck, back and forth for the lead until the last surge and we were second! Not bad for only five races in those big, beautiful boats!

Then we were invited to join Pink Phoenix members for après drinks on the floating patio of the Portland Seafood Restaurant. From there we had a great view of the start line and could watch the continuing races up close. We met and mingled with the two Pink Phoenix teams and had a great time chatting and getting to know our fellow racers. Carol gave out gift bags to the two teams and thanked them for hosting us before introducing our ‘Original’ Debbie who said a few words of thanks as well.

Lynne did an excellent job of steering of which we were very grateful. Carol was in fine voice with her usual clear drumming and calling. Judy W. our flag catcher was amazing and the whole team tips their hats to her incredible performance. She had to climb up the dragon’s head at the right moment; strap herself securely to the horns; squeeze out onto the top and lean way, way, way out over the nose to catch the flag! She never missed! Five for five! Wow! Thanks again to Karen for completing our team so well she is now a honourary Rocky! One other person deserves a special mention – Sheila K came down as our spare flag catcher and ended up racing with us to keep the balance since we only had 19 paddlers. Thanks, Sheila. Also we as a crew thank our wonderful Coach Debbie – with her enthusiasm and always up for anything attitude; our Captain Marcia, our motivator extraordinaire and most of all – our secret weapon – Manager Diane F!

We were made to feel so welcome by the members of Pink Phoenix! They provided chairs in our own tented area; coffee, water, snacks on both days and a catered lunch on Saturday. It was so much fun to have their company and helpful information about Portland. Loved Powell’s Book Store and the Market. Sorry to have missed Voodoo Donuts though! All too soon it was time to pack up and head north. I am sure that the seven of us who have now been to Portland three times will want to go back again along with the others!

Dorothy Fenning

Click on the images to expand!

David Poole and Lynne Weber present to AIAB Board members

David Poole and Lynne Weber present to AIAB Board members

On June 4th, Scotiabank presented the Abreast In A Boat Society (AIAB) with a very generous donation in the amount of $20,000.00; once again making them our largest Platinum Level sponsor.  David Poole, Senior Vice President and Lynne Weber, Branch Manager, Maple Ridge Branch, made the presentation on behalf of Scotiabank. Grace Kim, Manager, Community Engagement & Sponsorships, was also in attendance to welcome our group. Several AIAB board members were there to receive the cheque and to show our heartfelt appreciation.  The Scotiabank Bright Future program helps Abreast In A Boat stay on the water and enables us to continue to promote our Mission Statement: “To raise breast cancer awareness and to demonstrate that those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer can lead full and active lives.”