The weather forecast was not great and the reality wasn’t any better but the damp and grey weather didn’t dampen the spirits of a single crew member competing in the East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday 31st May 2015.
Crews arrived at around 10am for a crew managers meeting near the duck pond in Nicholas Everitt Park, having struggled to put up their gazebos in drizzle and wind! A role call found that two teams hadn’t made it out of bed, bringing the total racing dragon boats to 29, the most teams ever to race on Oulton Broad. Merklyn Hauck, director of Gable Events said it was a “fantastic turnout” for this event which hadn’t taken place last year.
‘The Hospice Hopers’There were just a few minutes to change from wellies and warm woollens into racing attire before the first 3 teams were called to the pens for dry team photos and safety briefings. Teams were told to celebrate their victory once they were on dry land, as this was the most likely time to fall in! First to take to the water was Persimmon Anglia, Asco Warriors and the Black Swans, Asco Warriors pipped The Black Swans to the finish line by 6 seconds.
Each team was made up of up to 11 paddlers and one drummer along with a helms man from Gable Events who steered the boat to victory (or at least to not falling in the broad). The helms were all competing against each other as well and wanted to win as much as the rest of the team did, some let their teams into the secret for a powerful stroke, others navigated the waves with precision and shouted encouragement from the rear. There was only one near collision and one near capsize- pretty good going!
Look at that impeccable timing!
The East Coast Hospice team – ‘The Hospice Hopers’ paddled 3 races, and the crew comprised of Corinne Bryant (Administrator and PA), Lisa Harold (Accounts), Alex Harrington (Volunteer at Gorleston Shop), and Nadia Sondh (Marketing) as well as charity partners Sainsburys Great Yarmouth; Donna on the drum, Jade C. & Jade, Lucy, Sue, George, Tracey, Marcus and Paul. Their 3rd race was by far the worst weather of the day, the mist had rolled in, the rain was falling in sheets, and the wind had picked up to such a speed that they couldn’t keep steady on the start line. The helm reminded the team the position for brace, and couldn’t lie that the likelihood of capsizing had increased! Being their third race of the day the team was tired and running on reserves of Margaret’s bacon rolls and Jeff’s cups of tea. Alex had decided to take to the drum this time which left Donna free to try her hand at paddling. Racing against the ‘Hospice Hopers’ in round 3 was The Black Swan Care Group and Leila Lightweights. The Hospice Hopers and The Black Swans were pretty evenly matched, right up to the last second when the Black Swans pulled ahead by 0.8 of a second! The Hospice Hopers had managed to shave 8 seconds off their time overall, with their technique and timing improving race by race, and their voices getting more and more strained from shouting “One, COME ON, Two, FASTER” so energetically! But at the end they were very thankful that they could get out of their wet clothes and warm up a bit before the final and the trophy giving.
Donna & Alex, tired and soaked but happy!
The semi-final was so closely followed by the final race that the last winning team of the semi-final ‘Powered By Wind’ didn’t have time to get out of their life jackets before returning to their boat to compete alongside ‘NetMatters and the’ L&Y rugby Club Away Team’.
The sheer grit and determination of these final 3 teams could be seen from across the water. All three teams gave it absolutely everything they had and dug deep into the broad water. Their techniques and timing was impeccable, and the photo finish could not have been closer. It took Merck from Gable Events some significant precision to gauge the winners with only a 10th of a second between them. Netmatters celebrated with medals and a dragon trophy awarded by The Mayor of Lowestoft & Jeff Wood (Community fundraiser for ECH), and they popped a bottle of champagne to add to their already soggy outfits! It has since been revealed that the NetMatters crew had been training on a rowing machine in their offices and used a metronome app to keep time. Read more about how NetMatters became the winning team here: www.netmatters.co.uk. What will your strategy for next year be?
The Overall Winners, NetMatters & their ‘big’ supporters!
The total raised at the event so far stands at a staggering £15,000, with more sponsorship money expected to be received in the next few days.
Results Summary 2015
1st Netmatters – Netmatters Ltd – 69.61
2nd L & Y Rugby Club Away team – The Plough @ Blundeston – 69.81
3rd Powered By Wind – Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Ltd – 69.99
Mixed Crew Champions:
1st The Cracked Oars – Applied Satellite Technology Ltd – 152.03
2nd Howes Percival LLP – Howes Percival LLP – 157.14
3rd SMS Lions – Specialised Management Services Ltd – 161.51
Best Dressed Crew:
Black Swans – Black Swan Care Group
Mumfords – Mumfords Hardware of Southwold
Who raised over £4,000 for Festival charity, East Coast Hospice (with another £2,000 expected!), and won the Charity trophy and prize meal courtesy of The Commodore at Lowestoft. Special commendation too to Black Swan Care Group who raised £1,420. Thanks also to our Gold crews; Seajacks, EV, F.W Hall & Son Ltd, Specialised Management Services and our Silver teams; Mumfords Hardware of Southwold and RWE Generation UK whose entry fee donations added £4,000 to the fundraising total. An estimated £15,000 was raised for East Coast Hospice by the Festival as a whole.
Our grateful thanks to Event organisers ‘Gable Events’ and to our supporters, The Lowestoft Journal, Waveney District Council, Broadview Caravan Site, The Senior Harbour Master & his team, Waveney & Oulton Broad Yacht Club and ‘The Commodore’.
-Read the full EDP story by Rebecca Murphy here: www.edp24.co.uk
Organisations and companies from across the region got into the competitive spirit at this year’s East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival.
But it was all in good spirit as the event was held in aid of East Coast Hospice (ECH) – which plans to provide a local hospice for people with life limiting conditions in Waveney and Great Yarmouth.
Despite the wet weather, 29 teams turned up for the race on Oulton Broad and were cheered on by hundreds of spectators.
“It’s been a great day and has gone very well” said ECH Chairman Jennifer Beesley. “We’re very lucky with this event and the hospice is important as we are the only area left without a hospice – so it is needed. I would like to thank everybody who has turned up and supported us”.
The event, in its comeback year, had entertainment from Lowestoft based – Venue of performing arts in addition to a number of stalls and rides.
“We had a fantastic turnout and the number competing has increased on two years ago” said Merklyn Hauck, director of Gable Events.
“There was some interesting racing with the wind and rain. We’re pleased to be back here as it’s a lovely place. The locals have turned up to cheer the racers on despite the weather. And hopefully next year event will grow”.