Kai Iwi Lakes

With anticipation I woke on the morning of Friday, 10 February to head north to Kai iwi Lakes, a place I have never visited before. The sun was hot and I could visualise a fantastic training weekend in front of me with some of my Pinkie team mates and many others from various Auckland Dragonboat teams.  Upon arrival I was greeted by Anne-Marie and once my tent was set up it was straight into the beautiful blue waters of the lake for a cool down. Under the watchful eye of Anne-Marie, I completed my 50m swim so it could be signed off.  Slowly as the day wore on the rest of the team arrived and set up.  Most Pinkies were in bed at a reasonable hour ready for the 6am paddle the next morning.

HAHA by the time we arose, about 7.30, the first paddle was already over.  Never mind breakfast sorted and then check in to party central at 9am to get a run down of the day before us.  As a NEWBIE to dragonboating I couldn’t wait to get going.  Everyone was so friendly and we quickly were sorted into groups, dependent on our skill level.

Along with 19 other new paddlers I got aboard a boat and we set out onto the lake to do a few circuits of one section.  Deb, the coach, watched how we all paddled and then gave very specific feedback to each paddler. Sometimes the information I was given reinforced what I had been told during our normal training and sometimes it conflicted with it.  It is up to me what I take on and what I don’t as it is all about making the team stronger in the long run.

After just over an hour of training we returned to the shore where Deb continued to give more instructions before we once again headed out to paddle, as a team, around the lake.  Once back on shore again it was a quick swim and then some lunch before heading back to the main tent for more info on the afternoon’s itinerary.  After being run through a few fitness warm ups we were back into boat for another session of skill building practice.  By late afternoon I was feeling really energised from paddling in a full boat.  This weekend has allowed me to sit in positions, such as stroke, that I wouldn’t normally sit in.  Each position has it’s role and it isn’t until you get to experience that position that you truly realise how important each one is.

By late afternoon it was time to split into different groups again.  Those who would like a sedate scenic paddle around the whole lake or those that were into some tough love paddling.  I chose the scenic which started off quite nicely as we paddled the approximately 2 kms to the other side.  Once on the other side the call for a cool alcoholic beverage was calling for some so it was like a race back to base.  All thoughts of a sedate paddle were quickly thrown out.  I was quite proud of myself, as I am sure others were of themselves, for keeping up with everyone else on the boat even though at times I could feel the burn in my muscles and my chest.  Once back we assisted with taking the boats out of the water and loading trailers ready for the trip back to Auckland.

After dinner those who had stayed on meet at the party central tent where we were entertained by other teams who had made up skits.  After a couple of hours with bed calling I quietly returned to our area of the camp for a good nights sleep.  I remember waking up a couple of times throughout the night but I was so tired I would fall back to sleep quickly.

Sunday morning we awoke to a dull cloudy day and with the threat of rain a couple of us packed up quickly and headed out. I really have appreciated getting to know some of my team mates a bit better and I feel my paddling has improved since this weekend, as I learnt so much.  I would highly recommend people of all abilities attend these training weekends as I am sure everyone who attended has gone away with a better understanding of paddling, to some degree.

Happy paddling everyone!

Kaye Bond

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