Six dragon boaters from the Merimbula Water Dragons, Pat and Charles Helmore, Denise Dion, Liz Shaw, Winsome Smith and Mary Balmain, joined with Nature Coast Moruya paddlers to form the Southern Warriors at the Pan Pacific Masters Games November 5-13.
Racing took place at Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast with both 200 metre and 500 metre racing in both 20s and 10s crews.
Southern Warriors competed in 11 races on Friday placing second in their heats of the Senior C mixed 10s and Senior B mixed 20s to move into the finals. The teams improved their times for both races with stiff competition all the way and were unlucky not to make the medal podium.
On Saturday the Southern Warriors took to the water again this time in the short, fast and furious 200 metre races.
By mid-morning the teams had already competed in about seven races with at least as many still to come for the remainder of the day when the weather started to take a dramatic turn.
The wind started to increase taking a toll on the nerves of sweeps. Merimbula Water Dragons Pat Helmore has three consecutive races where the wind was causing so much disruption that boats were lined up at 45 degree angles to the starting line.
The crew from another boat lost their sweep overboard during an over correction.
It is tribute to Helmore’s nerve and sweeping experience that even when faced with a boat either side of her in the same lane as the starter’s gun went off, she did not flinch and called the team to action immediately.
However the wind was a precursor to even wilder weather as a tropical storm hit the venue and boats had to be quickly turned back to shore as the sky started to light up.
The Senior C women’s team had performed well and was listed in the final but the storm put an end to racing with officials announcing they would be looking at heat times to ascertain the winners.
Times have yet to be posted from the Pan Pacific Masters Games site.
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