Paddling for Fun & Gold
SYDNEY: Dragon boating is one of Australia’s fastest growing sports with plenty of participation from Sydney’s queer community led by LGBTI club Different Strokes.
Experience what Different Strokes – Australia’s premiere LGBTI dragon boat club – is all about at a fun-filled social paddle and sausage sizzle this Saturday on waters near Sydney Harbour.
Formed only in 2008, Different Strokes has fast become a formidable force in the world of dragon boat racing, which is widely considered to be one of the fastest growing sports in Australia. The club is planning to take a team to the 2014 Asia Pacific Outgames in Darwin, while it will contest April’s Australian National Championships in Sydney as well as always eagerly-anticipated Chinese New Year Dragon Boat Festival later this month at Darling Harbour.
Victor Cronin, who has been with Different Strokes since 2010, tells SX the club has tasted plenty of success recently.
“We have been very successful at the past two regattas,” he says. “Achieving second place in the opens race at Nowra in January, and first place in the 10km Scotland Island race at Newport last weekend!
“Last year Different Strokes made it to a number of finals in Melbourne. This year we are aiming for gold.”
The open day at Blackwattle Bay on February 16 – part of the Team Sydney Mardi Gras Sports Festival – will provide a perfect opportunity for experienced dragon boaters as well as those ‘newbies’ with more curiosity than experience to see at first-hand the unique spirit to be found within the club.
“There’s a great mix of GLBT and straight paddlers who are like-minded, supportive and super friendly. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we may seem totally laid back and silly at times,” Cronin says.
“But we are a club to contend with, because when we are switched on, we know how to get results. We work hard and play hard!”
For those who may be considering coming along, Cronin suggests they wear clothes and closed shoes knowing that they may get wet as well as to bring a drink bottle and towel. Life jackets will also be provided on the day. Visitors to Mardi Gras from interstate or overseas are more than welcome, Cronin adds.
“We’re here to give people a taste of a dragon boating with a twist. Whether you’re after a social jaunt on the water or a serious competitive workout, we can handle your needs,” he says.
“Even if you’re here for a visit, come join us for a bit of a splash.”
[Image] Members of Different Strokes. Photo: Supplied
Different Strokes Open Day is on from 9.45am, Saturday, February 16 at 1 Bank St, Pyrmont. For more information, visit www.differentstrokes.org.au.