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Get into the spirit of Dragon Boating with Maroro Outrigger Canoe Club!

 When you tell people your favourite sport is dragon boating, it'll do more than just break the ice. People will be wanting to learn more about this curious sport!

Kenneth Fitzgerald from the Maroro Outrigger Canoe Club is a devoted fan of dragon boating and the sport has taken him to places he's never imagined, opened up a whole new social circle plus keep him fit and strong!

Dragon Boating has amassed a huge following, what is it about the sport that keeps people coming back for more?

The sport of Dragon Boating first got me interested when my wife, Lorrae, encouraged me to go along and have a go. As I had bad knees and it was a sport I could do sitting in the boat, I went along. Little did I know that it would take over our lives and dictate many of the decisions and trips that we have taken.

We’ve had a fantastic time over the last 15 years paddling in the sport. People get involved for fitness and the chance to get out on the water. Once you get into it you discover a team sport that provides so many opportunities and can cater to all ages and levels. Couples and families can participate together. Not many sports give you that opportunity.

If you just want to have a paddle and maintain your fitness it is perfect. It’s easy on the joints (when done properly) and we know people in their eighties who are still paddling. They also get the social benefits of being in a club with other people. You meet up to train several times a week and then it’s off for coffee/breakfast at the local spots. Social nights, weekends away and new friendships are all a part of the sport!

Those who are competitive can train a little harder and compete in all the local regattas up and down the coast. Once you attend these regattas and get to meet other paddlers it opens up another side of the sport. We all get along but there is definitely a bit of rivalry and everyone wants their club to do well in all the races.  We’ve had many trips away with our clubs and other paddlers and you see the towns and waterways along the coast and interstate.

If inclined you can then aspire to represent your region, state and country. We now have friends all around the country from teams we have raced in.

Both yourself and your wife Lorrae have travelled the world competing in Dragon Boat regattas. What countries have you been to?

The sport has given us many opportunities to travel and compete. Initially it was all over NSW then interstate at all the Australian Championships. We have been lucky enough to compete overseas as well. With Dragon Boating we’ve raced in Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Italy. We also paddle Outriggers and have paddled and competed around Australia and in Norfolk Island, Tahiti, Rarotonga, Aitutaki (Cook Islands) and Hawaii.

Ken and Lorrae Fitzpatrick

There are paddling clubs all around the world. Wherever we travel we can message ahead and get to paddle with the locals. Best example is when we were in Egypt, we emailed the dragon boat club in Cairo and they welcomed us to one of their training sessions. So, we got to paddle on the Nile River.

It’s great to travel and compete and paddling has given us the chance to do it together. We train, coach, travel and race together. What other sport can do that for you?

What does it take to become part of the team? How can we get involved?

Anyone can get involved in the sport. We talk to a lot of people who say I’ll get fit then come and paddle but it’s the other way around. Come down and slowly build your skill and fitness. In dragon boat there is a spot for everyone.

The main thing you need is a good attitude and be able to have fun while you learn how to paddle. Then once you have settled in you can decide how you want to proceed. Keep it social, race a little bit or turn into a paddling hobby because you love it so much.

Starting age is 12 and then there is no limit.

Our club, Maroro, does Outrigging and Dragon Boat so you can give both a try if you wish. We train for the Dragon Boat at Rocks Ferry Reserve at Wauchope. Currently three times a week depending on the weather. Best time to have a first up paddle is on Saturday. We meet at 9.30am and get on the water at 10.00am. Contact us so we know you are coming along and then we can organise a group or fit you into our normal session.

A stunning afternoon on the Hastings River, Wauchope

Maroro had a Launch and Boat Blessing ceremony at Rocks Ferry Reserve early this month. They even had a monk grace the occasion with some blessings. Starting a Dragon Boat Club in the Chinese year of the dragon is very auspicious. If you are intrigued by Dragon Boating, make sure you get in touch with Kenneth and experience for yourself the thrill and power of rowing in a team!


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