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