Canberra paddlers race for resilience

This article has photo gallery Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), POIS Phil Cullinan (photographer)

Location(s): Lake Burley Griffin

Topic(s): Dragon Boating

Defence personnel from the Canberra region spend time dragon boating on Lake Burley Griffin to help build resilience through exercise. (photo: POIS Phil Cullinan)
Defence personnel from the Canberra region spend time dragon boating on Lake Burley Griffin to help build resilience through exercise.

Sailors and officers in Canberra have put Navy’s Resilience Plan into practice, by teaming up for dragon boat racing on Lake Burley Griffin. 

The event was organised by the New Generation Navy program team as an opportunity to build teamwork and fitness in a relaxed environment.

Among the 32 paddlers who signed up were Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett and Deputy Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Michael Noonan, who enjoyed the fierce but friendly competition.

The paddlers were drawn from a wide range of areas and each varied in experience, and it was local unit, Australia's Federation Guard’s Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Sonia Leon Sepulveda’s second dragon boating experience. 

She said the practice session provided the chance for each member to take a welcome break from their normal work routine. 

"Dragon boating is a sport that requires a group of people to work as a team to reach the finish line," Petty Officer Leon Sepulveda said.

"So you need to have mutual trust and work together to achieve that goal."

As the session progressed, everyone involved found their resilience was tested, but even the fitter members of the group were physically challenged. 

Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Zoe Briggs of HMAS Harman, says that was the point. 

"Although I'm not in peak physical condition and I found it a challenge, I was surprised that I was able to work within my fitness level and still provide a valuable contribution to the team," Leading Seaman Briggs said. 

"In the end, I really enjoyed myself and I’d definitely give it another go."

The Navy Resilience Plan was launched last year; providing a range of practical ways for all Navy people to maintain and build up their resilience by focusing on the mind, heart, body and external elements of their professional and personal lives. 

Petty Officer Leon Sepulveda said the activity focused everyone on their physical and mental resilience which were often forgotten in the rush to make deadlines and stay on top of work commitments. 

"Sometimes we let our jobs consume all our time," Petty Officer Leon Sepulveda said.

"But that work load will always be there. We need to remember to take a break to do some physical activities and enjoy the fun things life has to offer."

The boaters returned to their workplaces refreshed by their experience and looking forward to the next training session. 

Petty Officer Leon Sepulveda says it was the perfect way to strengthen resilience.

"Get out there, balance work with other life activities, take a well-deserved break - it’ll help you clear your mind.

"If you’re struggling to cope, you’re not alone and there’s support available to help you bounce back."