Bringing in the Lunar New Year in a Dragon Boat

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Darling Harbour, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Albatross, Dragon Boating

The newly formed ‘Mako Paddle Club’ from HMAS Albatross lines up to compete in a dragon boat race at the 2020 Sydney Lunar New Year Festival regatta at Darling Harbour. (photo: Unknown)
The newly formed ‘Mako Paddle Club’ from HMAS Albatross lines up to compete in a dragon boat race at the 2020 Sydney Lunar New Year Festival regatta at Darling Harbour.

Officially formed in November 2019, the Mako Paddle Club recently participated in its first Australian Dragon Boat Federation regatta, at Darling Harbour, during the Sydney Lunar New Year Festival. 

The team was formed when Ms Kristin Chick joined the HMAS Albatross human resources team and decided to test the waters to see who might be interested in forming a new dragon boat team. 

Kristin, who has been a dragon boat coach and paddler at club, state and international level for more than ten years, was ecstatic with the swift interest in the club and their debut performance at the competition. 

“The team is made up of Defence and Australian Public Service (APS) personnel from across Albatross, and every single paddler in the club is 100% brand new, making us an entirely rookie club - which is virtually unheard of. 

“When you combine a rookie crew with a handful of death-defying surf-based training sessions in killer tides, and throw them in cars for a road trip to make their debut in Sydney, you can’t be sure of the result,” Kristin said. 

When the Mako Paddle Club arrived on site bright and early for the regatta, the team members were surprised to see that most of the local crews had been camping there.

Team member, Lieutenant Commander Wayne Langworthy of 822X Squadron said it resembled the great camp out for tickets at the 1976 Bay City Rollers, but wouldn’t admit how he knew this.

“The heat was building early and so were our nerves as we headed off for our first Premium Mixed race,” Kirstin said.

“Team Mako, was out of the blocks and hauled down course to pull a good time and grab third in the opening heat.

“Not dusty at all, but the crew all knew that we had more, with our single goal for the day etched in our minds - get faster each trip out. 

“Everyone hardened up and attacked our second heat with a poise and discipline not expected from an L-plate salt water crew in their first Darling Harbour outing,” she said.

The Mako crew shaved 1.5 seconds (third of a boat) off in the second run and finished the mornings racing very pleased with the result.

“The really cool part of the day was seeing how adaptable the crew was,” Kristin said. 

“Our Women and Open crews combined with another club for the afternoon’s racing, where we also performed strongly; however Mako paddlers love it best when we are in a boat with our own members,” she added.

Kristen is now putting the call out for more people to join the Mako Paddle Club.

“If you want to jump on board the hottest new Navy dragon boating club to hit Jervis Bay, then contact kristin.chick@defence.gov.au.

Mako is recruiting now for its under-50, ‘fit and feisty paddlers’ team.

“This club and sport will open doors you never knew existed,” Kirsten said.