A BORDER club claimed its first ever national titles at the Australian Dragon Boat Championships’ opening race day on Gateway Lakes.
Warriors Albury-Wodonga took out both the senior B mixed and senior B women’s finals in the small boat division over 200 metres.
Warriors head coach Graham Poynter said self-belief and teamwork contributed to the victories.
“They’ve worked out a nice rate that they can all power through and get the same strength through the boat,” Poynter said. “They had a race plan and they stuck to their race plan all the way through. It’s the first time that we’ve won a national championship, a gold medal, so we’re stoked. Being on our home lake, we’ve got a little bit of an advantage, hopefully, and it’s been paying off, so it’s been all good.”
A packed day of racing saw about 80 masters events in small and standard boats.
Competitors raced over 200m and 2000m in women, open and mixed teams in A (over-40 years), B (over-50) and C (over-60) categories.
Another Albury-Wodonga club, Brave Hearts, competed in the senior A women’s 200m and senior A mixed 200m, with the latter team reaching the semi-finals.
Brave Hearts co-ordinator Pauline Harbick said the regatta’s overall quality was high.
“We didn’t make finals but as a small club we are happy to be competitive in our racing,” she said. “It’s really good to see other teams and race at a national standard.”
Melbourne club Dragon Masters, based at Docklands, saw all its day one teams make finals and the senior C mixed group win their event.
President Jim Eaton said many of his club’s members would be representing Victoria in Saturday’s state events.
“While we have our fun times, when it comes to this time of year we get pretty serious,” he said.
Mr Eaton praised the championships venue, which had been transformed by Wodonga Council and volunteers over the past year.
“It’s a great set-up, it’s a village atmosphere under the trees, it’s just magic, it really is,” he said.
Australian Dragon Boat Federation president David Abel also told the crowd about the council’s hard work.
“If you could have seen this; not so long ago you’d be sitting on dirt and weeds right now, with reed beds around here,” he said.
The masters club crews dragon boat events continue Friday over courses of 500m and 2000m.