Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival – June 21 & 22, 2014

Could it get any better than our weekend at Rio Tinto?  The sun shone for three glorious days and the temperature was perfect for paddling.  Just enough sun and warmth to dry off after fast paced races where paddles slashed through the choppy waters.  It is hard to believe that those little water ferries could make such a swell!

Although we didn’t have our traditional Flower Ceremony this year, we did get to experience our sense of “we are all in it together” with the paddle arch.  I am sure we all remembered those who have been touched by cancer in our own way, either through hugging our seat mates, or by just taking a minute of silence on the start line to reflect.

AIAB Rio Tinto 2014

Abreast In A Boat at Rio Tinto Alcan 2014

The CIBC Breast Cancer Challenge Race was so much fun.  FORT-itude’s fitness regime paid off and they dominated for first place. Rocky Point and Deas played tag throughout the race with Rocky Point winning by a dragon’s nose for second place.

AIAB Crews ~ CIBC Breast Cancer Challenge

AIAB Crews ~ CIBC Breast Cancer Challenge

One of my favourite experiences at the races, is joining in with FORT-itude in their pre-race warm up.  Juanita is so full of energy and she makes it fun and enticing.  Who doesn’t like dancing Gangnam style?  One by one all the breast cancer teams join in until it is almost like a “flash mob”, once again demonstrating we are all in this together.

Paddle Arch ~ Rio Tinto Alcan

Paddle Arch ~ Rio Tinto Alcan

It is pretty empowering to see the mass of pink showing to everyone that we take this sport seriously!

The Information Booth was a huge success, as usual.  Thank you to Sheila Blair, Bunny Rosse, and everyone who volunteered to help set up, man, and take down the booth.  A big thank you to the RTA organizers who gave us a prime location for the booth and who helped it run without a hitch!

Paddling in the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival was a great place to show thousands of people who we are, and to demonstrate that you can live a full and active life after a breast cancer diagnosis! We all paddled in “OUR RACE AGAINST BREAST CANCER”.

Written By: Linda Hopwo

 CIBC Breast Cancer Challenge Race Times

Abreast With FORTitude     2:16.30

Abreast At Rocky Point       2:23.50

Abreast Deas Divas               2:23.77

Abreast Up The Creek           2:37.78

Flower Ceremony at Women's Regatta

Flower Ceremony at Women’s Regatta

Spring has come, and it looks that it will stay forever! Green yards, flowers, birds are all a testimony of that. With Spring also arrived the beating of the drums, the drums of the dragon boat season. This is something that we, breast cancer survivors carry deep in our hearts. Some of us spend leisure time in the water, paddling together, enjoying the warm sunsets, or the crazy rain (it does not stop us!). Others train hard to be ready for the regattas. No matter how we paddle, we feel stronger than ever.

On May 24th women from different cities got together in Vancouver to celebrate their own regatta, Women’s. There were about 48 crews having fun and enjoying this fight between clouds and sun, and wearing funny costumes. One o’clock was the time for the eight Breast Cancer Survivors teams to get together at the Breast Cancer Challenge race. After the race, we gathered our boats together to enjoy the Flower Ceremony. We all know what this ceremony is about. It was also a moment to think about how breast cancer changed our lives and how strong we became, while waving pink carnations embracing hope for a cure.

Abreast With Deas Divas BC Challenge Winners!

Abreast Deas Divas, Scotiabank Breast Cancer Challenge race winners with Lynn Weber, Scotiabank Rep

This picture shows the big smiles and happiness of the Breast Cancer Challenge winners, Abreast Deas Divas. It also represents the smiles of the eight crews that beyond the regatta, could grant that they are all winners! Winners in Life!

I deeply hope these will be the smiles of all ladies around the world once breast cancer is no longer a threat in women’s life!

Written By: Adriana Bartoli, Paddler with Abreast Deas Divas

Abreast At Rocky Point Leaving the Dock

Abreast At Rocky Point Leaving the Dock

14Knock_Outs_Rocky_Point_line up

Abreast With Rocky Point Marshalling at Spring Knock Outs

9 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer it would never have crossed my mind that such a scary negative event would lead me to such a great positive opportunity  in my life as dragon boating.

Dragon boating has changed my life and given me opportunities that I would never have had. I have raced in Malaysia, the Queens Jubilee and the Lake District. I have met interesting and lovely people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet.

Dragon boating is a team sport. Everyone must give all that their physical abilities allow them to give. Saturday our team, Rocky Point did just that. We raced 4 times back to back, every person on that boat, reached, dug deep and gave all that they had to give. I am proud to be part of this team.

 Written By: Esther Newcombe


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.


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 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.