Dragon Boating 2011 – Danebank Flames
It all started when our dedicated teacher, Miss Banfield, entered a team of 25 eager girls ranging from years 7 to 11 into the upcoming Chinese New Year Dragon Boating competition at Darling Harbour. After putting the team together, Miss B decided that the Sandy Point Dragons would be the perfect club to prepare us for the competition.
For Peter Arnold, President of the Sandy Point Dragons and Mark, it was a tough job keeping 25 girls quiet and focused for 1.5hrs, 2 or 3 training sessions a week. However their passion for the sport drove us, the Danebank Flames or Red Hats, to success.
At the Chinese New Year Dragon Boating Competition in Darling Harbour we proved ourselves amongst the competitors from around NSW, with a personal best time (PB) of 1:15 for the 250m race. As a result of our fantastic progress and achievements we were selected to become the NSW Dragon Boating (B) team and asked to compete at Penrith in the NSW Dragon Boating Championships and the Dragon Boating National Championships in Canberra.
At State, the team was challenged by the rainy weather and the longer race course (500m). We learnt that these “longer” distance races were all about endurance. The key was to have a fantastic start, stretching it out and going long before quickly picking up the power and rate for a sprint to the finish line. Our competition was only a few seconds in front and behind our time, however with the encouragement from our parents, coaches, teachers and principal, Mrs Davis we were ready to take home “the gold”.
The excitement had been building all day in preparation of the finals and when they finally arrived, the adrenaline kicked in and we sailed past the finish line with a time of 2:28. This was our PB for the day and only 3 seconds behind Marist Sisters. We proudly placed 2nd in the female junior division and 4th in the Dragon Boating junior division of NSW. These results inspired us for even greater achievements in Canberra.
After fastening our seatbelts, the team, parents, Peter, Miss B and Miss Davis all drove 3 hours to get to Canberra for a 9 o’clock race training session on the famous Lake Burley Griffith. Once everyone had arrived we were given a quick run through of how the next 3 race days would be operating, before having a chance to “practice” on the water. Then thanks to Mrs Matthew’s organisation, the team went together to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for a tour of the grounds and some fun in the activity room. This was a great opportunity for us to become closer as a team and it gave our parents the chance to get to know each other.
Our first day of racing was the State V’s State titles. Teams from all over Australia, of all age groups competed for the cup on a race point’s basis. We were all very excited to be wearing the state uniform and representing NSW in the female junior division. However we all knew we were up for some tough competition against the NSW and ACT (A) teams. Before each race we warmed up our muscles jogging with Miss B up to Old Parliament House and were prepped by our coach Peter, who encouraged our “mongrel” within to be unleashed.
The atmosphere in the marshalling tent was intense and when it came to racing, it was all about what we could produce as a team. In the 500m finals we placed 3rd in the female junior division with a time of 2:31:12, with only 1 second separating 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. We were all very proud of ourselves and NSW, who once again took home the Dragon Boating National Championship State V’s State cup.
The next two days were the Club V’s Club titles and we were up against 4 Canberra School teams and another NSW School team, Marist. First on the agenda were the 500m races, which we placed 4th by 2 seconds, with a time of 2:24:01. This was an improvement of 7 seconds from our prior day’s final race time and an improvement of 4 seconds from our heat time. Overall we placed 4th, however the huge time improvements and our continued fast starts and finishes gave us the confidence for fantastic result for the 200m races.
Before our 200m heat we did our ritual jog to Old Parliament House, along with Miss B’s children Kaden and Kamika and our mascot, funky monkey. The races today were 200m and extremely fast. In the heat we placed 2nd and had the other team’s hundredths of a second in front and behind us. Our parents, coaches and Miss Davis could all be seen running the length of the race course alongside us. We knew that the final was going to be close.
Before our final race we were given a few words of encouragement by Peter and Miss B, before heading off to marshalling.
As we filed into the boat we took some deep breaths before paddling to the start line and awaiting the air horn. The race was fast, with teams passing the finish line almost as one. After we awarded 3 cheers for the other teams, ourselves and our sweep, Sylvia, we glanced back at our parents waiting for the official result. It wasn’t until we had all unloaded the boat that Danebank was announced 2nd place in the 200m Junior Women’s Division of Dragon Boating.
The excitement was unprecedented. Running through the “snake” we were greeted by crying and screaming parents, a crying proud coach and extremely excited Mrs Davis and Miss B.
I would like to thank Mrs Davis for supporting our participation in this sport and for taking the time from her busy schedule to encourage us to do our best. Miss B for organising the team and spending almost endless hours filling in paper work. Without her we wouldn’t have been introduced to this sport, we wouldn’t of had the opportunity to grow stronger as a student body and we wouldn’t of been a part of a once in a life time event.
In addition I would like to thank Peter for all his enthusiasm, expertise and guidance. For without him we wouldn’t have passed the first finish line at Darling Harbour and certainly would not have had the opportunity to represent our school and our state at the state championships and national championships.
Furthermore I would like to thank Mark and other members of the Sandy Point club, who openly welcomed 25 bubbly girls into their training sessions and came to cheer us on at State and Nationals in Canberra. Your presence inspired us all.
Also I would like to thank all the parents for allowing their daughters to commit to the training sessions and for supporting the team at all events, whether it be through organising the lunches, the timetable, clothing allocations, being our personal paparazzi – a special thankyou to Mr Ling who captured our journey from watermelons to waratahs, sponsorships, Mrs Ling for helping with late night laminator issues, cheering and attending the races. It made the experience all that more memorable.
Lastly I would like to thank the girls. For without them taking up the challenge and participating in the 2011 Danebank Flames team, all of this wouldn’t have been possible. You have made the journey into what will be remembered not only by us, but by others for years to come.
The State Junior Girls B team at the National Championships, in Canberra, March 2011
The State Junior Girls B team paddling hard on their way to a well deserved third place in the state vs. state competition
The Danebank Flames flat out on their way to a thrilling second place in the 200m club vs. club competition
Sandy Point acknowledges the brilliant photography of Danebank father Calvin Ling on this and other pages.
Danebank training in the old tub in February 2011, Ryan in the hotseat
The Danebank girls pulling hard from the start, lined up lext to Snowy Mountains Grammar at Chinese New Year 2011 in Darling Harbour
Danebank going hard at Chinese New Year 2011 in Darling Harbour, Melodee drumming, Peter Sweeping
Danebank Flames racing at the NSW State Titles at Penrith in March 2011
The Danebank Flames team at the NSW State Titles at Penrith in March 2011
The State Junior Girls B team paddle out to defend the honour of N.S.W., with Sylvia at the helm
The State Junior Girls B team displaying their bronze medals at the National Championships, in Canberra, March 2011
The triumphant Danebank Flames!