Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club well represented at Australian Dragon Boat Championships

ALL TOGETHER: The team leaders of Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club are not deterred by Friday's rain at Gateway Lakes. Picture: MARK JESSER

ALL TOGETHER: The team leaders of Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club are not deterred by Friday's rain at Gateway Lakes. Picture: MARK JESSER

A DRAGON boat club that celebrates diversity is also proving quite handy on the waters of Gateway Lakes.

Different Strokes claimed gold and silver on the opening day of the Australian Dragon Boat Championships and by lunchtime Friday had added another silver.

The Sydney-based club’s president Nicole Bates said a small group came together in 2008 wanting to form a team catering specifically for the gay and lesbian community.

“And so with the help of people from a lot of other Sydney clubs, the club started going,” she said.

“It literally only had 10 members so they kind of had to borrow members to go in regattas.”

Now Different Strokes has 102 members, with 64 paddlers coming to this week’s championships to compete in up to 27 races.

With members aged from 22 to 71 years, the club has four coaches and trains three times a week on the water.

“As it turns out, we have members of all different sexual orientation, cultural backgrounds, age group, everything,” Ms Bates said.

Rain fell during Friday’s masters competition, but championships organising committee member Ray Olsson said it didn’t affect the racing.

“It was just wetter,” he said with a laugh.

Involved in land and water co-ordination, Mr Olsson found himself with two broken dragon boat heads that needed a quick fix.

“I called into Wodonga Joinery, they made up some bits for me,” he said.

“All these little things that come up, you just have to attend to.

“It’s contacts around town; the Melbourne people just come up and say, ‘Who do you know around town that can fix this?’.”

Mr Olsson, like many of the championships organisers, is also competing with his home club, in his case Warriors Albury-Wodonga.

The two Warriors crews that won gold on day one followed up with silver medals over 500 metres on Friday.

“It’s been a bit of a rush,” Mr Olsson said.

“Some of the warm-ups I’ve missed, I’ve been out doing stuff and the coach will come over and say, ‘Get into marshalling’.”

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