VANCOUVER GLOBAL BC – They are all survivors, living through a battle against cancer, and last weekend they saved a man’s life.

The FLCC Fort-itude (Fort Langley Canoe Club, part of Abreast In A Boat) dragon boat team was about to begin its usual Saturday practice session in Fort Langley last Saturday, when they heard someone yelling for help.

FORTitude at 2013 Canadian National Dragonboat Championships

FORTitude at 2013 Canadian National Dragonboat Championships

Turns out a man had been out for a row earlier in the day and had grown tired. When he went to remove one of his oars before pulling up to the dock he fell in to the water without a lifejacket on.

Jan Choquette was standing on the dock at the time. She is not part of Abreast In A Boat, but she is on a dragon boat team.

“I heard a man saying ‘help, I need help’ and I turned around and saw a man floundering in the water there,” she said.

She yelled at the people nearby for help and to call 9-1-1 and that is when her water-safety training kicked in.

“I pointed,” she said. “I kept my eye on him and I pointed at him, and that’s one thing that we’re told all the time and drilled every time we go out in the boat.”

Choquette said a man on the dock at the time also jumped into the water to swim towards the drowning man.

“And then the man, as he was floating down the river a bit, he kept yelling ‘help, help me’ and I called out to him time and again ‘help is coming, hold on,’” she said, “and I just kept walking and then I saw the fellow dive into the water, swim towards him and that’s when I saw you guys paddling down [the] river.”

The ‘you guys’ were the FLCC Fort-itude, who had heard the man’s cries from hundreds of metres away.

“And I said to our crew, ‘somebody needs help, let’s go’,” said Fort-itude member Heather Innes. “It was like doing a 500-metre race, from the other side of the bridge, coming down.”

As the group of women reached the two men in the water they threw them their extra lifejackets, their First Aid kit and a few lines.

“The girls on the team were so amazing,” said member Juanita Peglar.

“The fellow in the water was so cold, so weak, we tried to get him into the boat but he just said ‘I can’t do anything, I can’t do anything’,” she said.

They towed the two men to the shore where they sat for about 10 minutes until they began to feel stronger, and then they brought them to the main dock alongside the river.

By that time the paramedics had arrived.

“It was a scary thing,” said Peglar.

Choquette said it was a very emotional day and without all the people coming together to save this man the outcome could have been very different.

“The fellow who was in the water, he was not staying afloat,” she said. “He wasn’t able to swim, his head was going under the water, I think had it been in many more moments he wouldn’t have made it.”

“It was that close.”

Global BC News,

CIBC Group Sponsor Paddle

CIBC Group Sponsor Paddle

As the “2014 CIBC Run for the Cure” Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Directors boarded our boats to experience what Abreast In A Boat is all about, the skies opened up with a torrent of rain.  The Directors, meeting in Vancouver in preparation for the 2014 Run in October, were from all parts of Canada.

As the paddle progressed their initial apprehension of climbing into the seemingly unsteady boats and paddling in the rain seemed to disappear.  Our two boats settled into the rhythm of the stroke, warming our bodies and putting smiles on the faces of our guests as we glided past the beautiful city landscape and seascape of False Creek.

CIBC Run For the Cure Paddle, April 5, 2014

CIBC Run For the Cure Paddle, April 5, 2014

Juanita Peglar and Margaret Hobson each coached a boat and put us through our paces, with good stretches in between.

We are so grateful to our sponsors for helping to keep us on the water, and we were so happy to be able to share our experience, and tell our seat partners what AIAB means to us.  I heard the words, hope, empowerment, a sense of good health, support, exercise, friendship and opportunity mentioned throughout the boat.  Yes, that is what it is all about!


Leaving the dock - Sponsor Paddle, April 5, 2014

Leaving the dock – Sponsor Paddle, April 5, 2014

One of our guests sent us the following thank you:

Thank you Juanita for showing me how to paddle this past Saturday. I had a great time and experience…even in the rain. I am in awe of you and your fabulous team for what you do and am happy to do my part as a Run Director for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. Thank you and your team for taking us out!!! Fundraising Run Director – Victoria

Thank you to Barb Baker and Rena Pratt for organizing this very important “thank you” paddle.

Linda Hopwo

AIAB Communication Chair

Margaret Hobson & Kamini Jain

Margaret Hobson & Kamini Jain

Over 65 Abreast In A Boat Paddlers attended Kamini Jain’s dry land training on Friday, April 4th.  Kamini, owner of Right Angle Performance ( and her “Premiere” paddlers reinforced the proper technique for holding our paddles, rotating, hinging, and extending out for our strokes.  We were reminded to think about reaching across a table to shake someone’s hand and not to get our sleeve in the gravy.  Great analogy!  The novices were given an overview on the erg machine while the rest of us found a partner and practiced some paddling exercises.  Kamini shared a video link with us which demonstrated the proper paddling technique, and by the end of the evening we felt ready to give it a try on the water either at the Saturday or Sunday clinic.

Three experienced helpers were on each boat to work “one on one” with the novices and to help those who were having difficulty mastering the technique of the stroke.  Kamini travelled alongside us in a coach boat where she was able to get a better view of the entire boat, and able to quickly see where instruction was needed.

Kamini & Premier Paddlers (Taro too!)

Kamini & Helpers (Taro too!)

As always we came away feeling exhilarated, and excited that we have taken our paddling to another level.  Rain or shine it is always great to be on the water!

Here are a few quotes from some of our paddlers about their experience this weekend:

“Every time I attend a paddle clinic with Kamini I learn something new. She is a wonderfully motivating coach.” ~ Neoma Ham

“Each time I attend one of Kamini’s clinics I always learn something new and I have a deeper understanding of the paddling stroke due to her analogies and direct coaching style.” ~ Lisa Tildsley

“I have a better understanding of the catch and finish.  You know you are going back to far if you go further than your shoulder (for the finish), don’t know why I didn’t get it before cause that is mid-thigh!!” ~ Tannis Hutfetler

Geri Maden, Denise Nelson & Cheryl Linsey

Geri Maden, Denise Nelson & Cheryl Linsey

“I really enjoyed this clinic, the weather cooperated, we were once again in a sea of pink, and Kamini as always was her engaging self. There was a lot (but not too much to take in) new information and at times when the two boats came abreast of each other, I felt the urge to hinge down to the gunnel waiting for the horn.” ~ Arleigh Bennington

Thanks to Margaret Hobson, our Richmond Crew coach for organizing the clinic and to Kamini and her helpers for their patience and for making it all look so easy.


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

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