Frequently Asked Questions

Celebrating 20 Years of Breast Cancer Recovery

Key Dates 2020

Saturday, 5 December 9.30am - AGM
Saturday, 19 December 9.30am - Xmas Paddle n Picnic afterwards @ Blackwattle Bay

Key Dates 2021

Come n Try for Newbies - Saturday 9 January, 7am
TASMANIA Nipples on Ripples - weekend 6-7 February
SYDNEY - Chinese New Year TBC

How often do you paddle? And do I have to attend all sessions?

We train 2-3 times per week – always a Saturday morning (COVID19 limitations) and once or twice in the week depending on numbers. We are a participatory club, so we encourage, but do not enforce you to come to every session. We know you have extra considerations like medical appointments so we can be flexible.

What precautions are you taking during COVID19?

Under DBNSW we are following AusSports guidelines and have an Action Plan.  Essentially if you are feeling unwell, have a fever, please stay at home as the group are in the higher-risk category (immuno-compromised). Keep talking to us and we can advise when to come if you are unsure

Do I have to wait post treatment before coming to try?

Some feel ready to start low-level exercise, it varies case by case on your energy levels. You can always come to sit in the boat and see how you feel.

Is there a minimum age?

Over 18 years of age.

Can I pro-rata my membership fees?

The Dragon Boat Season begins each 1 July.

There is an annual membership fee to join Dragons Abreast Sydney, currently $60 pa, pro-rated from January until start of next season.

As we are a member club of Dragons Abreast Australia (DAA), there is a annual fee due to DAA of $35.

Dragon Boating in NSW is governed by  Dragon Boats NSW (DBNSW), membership of which is essential as this includes on water insurance premium.  Membership starts 1 July annually, reduced pro-rate fees usually apply from January until end of June.

Are there other forms I must sign?

A participant waiver to accept the inherent risks of the sport and that you do not hold DBNSW or Club liable in the case of accident or injury.

I have never paddled before, nor done much boat/water activity so will this preclude me participating?

It does not matter what skill level you have. We ask you self-pace and monitor yourself, we will set you up with a buddy. It is advisable to wear a personal floatation device (aka life jacket) especially if you cannot swim 50meters in clothing.  It is a great sport to try bef.ore you go into solo craft.

Do you have to attend every session?

No! It is a team sport but you don’t have to attend every session. Paddling needs to fit into your Family life. However, if you have registered on Teamstuff that you intend to paddle then you are expected to attend so the Sweep and Coaches know there are enough Paddlers to lift the boat into the water. If your situation changes you just need to change your availability on Teamstuff.

Do you need to be super fit to paddle?

No, but paddling will increase your fitness. It is important that you arrive on time for the session to participate in pre-paddling stretch exercises and do exercises with paddling partner post-session.

Do DAS Paddlers do anything “off water”?

Yes, after every Saturday morning paddle session if convenient for individual paddlers they meet at a local cafe for breakfast, coffee and catch up. Paddlers attend regattas in country areas which is an opportunity to spend time together e.g visiting markets, eating meals together. There is usually an end of season party in June and a Christmas picnic after the last dress-up paddle session prior to Christmas break.

Can I stop paddling if feeling tiredness or there is any pain?

DEFINITELY… you are encouraged to ‘pull your paddle in’ for any reason that YOU want too. The Sweep is in control of the boat but you are responsible for your own welfare and ensuring you don’t sustain an injury.

Is it an expensive sport?

The costs involved other than fees mentioned earlier are: A paddle (the club has paddles available for your use while you are deciding if it is the sport for you), a uniform shirt, gloves, cap, stretch pants, and closed-toe shoes. The Club shirt, gloves, and cap can be purchased from Club Merchandising Officer. The Membership fees which include insurance is roughly $240 per annum. Plus if you attend regattas, you will be advised of this per event. All in all, it is cheaper than a gym membership.

What is the origin of dragon boating?


Breast cancer survivor dragon boat paddling began at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada.

Dr Don McKenzie

In 1996. Dr. Don McKenzie, a Professor in the Department of Sports Medicine and exercise physiologist, challenged the prevailing medical thinking that women treated for breast cancer should avoid rigorous upper body exercise for fear of developing lymphedema, a debilitating and chronic side effect of treatment.

He developed a program to determine the impact of exercise on breast cancer survivors, choosing dragon boat paddling as the epitome of strenuous, repetitive upper body exercise. He trained twenty-four breast cancer volunteers in a gym for three months, introduced them to dragon boats and taught them paddling techniques. At the end of the three-month season on the water none of the volunteers had lymphedema.

While Dr. McKenzie’s medical experiment/project was underway, the women found they were fitter, healthier and happier. They loved the camaraderie and support of their fellow paddlers and had regained control of their lives. They realized that dragon boat paddling could become a means to raise awareness of breast cancer and of the ability of survivors to lead normal lives. They named their team ‘Abreast In A Boat’ and invited other survivors to share their exciting experience.

Over the years, the movement progressed to other areas in Canada and was introduced to other countries by breast cancer survivors who saw the benefits. These inspirational individuals started communicating across the miles, providing much support and encouragement to see other survivors reap the benefit of dragon boating and the health and fitness benefits it provided. Special mention should be made also to the amazing awareness made to the public on breast cancer.

Since 1996, as more and more interest came about, representatives from different countries joined together to paddle in different places including Canada, Australia, Italy, Penang, New Zealand, Singapore, Poland and the United States. In 2005, a celebration of the start of Abreast In A Boat took place in Vancouver, Canada – an international event with over 2000 breast cancer survivors from around the world. Following this Festival, Australia hosted ‘Abreast in Australia’ in 2007. Further festivals followed in Peterborough, Canada in 2010, and more recently Sarasota, Florida U.S.A in 2014. Each festival provided breast cancer survivors with the opportunity to network, attend workshops, paddle and celebrate life!

What about Australia?

Michelle Hanton, NT

What has now become a national movement in Australia originated in the Northern Territory (NT). It started when a group of Territory women attended the First National Breast Cancer Conference for Women held in Canberra in October 1998.  Michelle Hanton OAM – the founder of Dragons Abreast, attended this conference.  As part of one of the presentations, a Canadian speaker (Sharon Batt) happened to mention that breast cancer survivors in Canada paddled dragon boats. Michelle knew that dragon boats had just started in the NT because in her professional life she provided racing uniforms for the newly formed NT team. Inspired, Michelle returned to Darwin determined to round up a group of paddlers!

Michelle contacted Abreast In A Boat and this was the start of a wonderful friendship along with great advice on how to go about establishing a dragon boat team.

In December 1998, the first survivor paddlers took to the water at a fun day hosted by Dragon Boat NT. They were filmed by SBS Television for a program called Tutti and had their first taste of media fame as this program was shown around South East Asia. The ACT followed in early 1999 with Anna Wellings-Booth then Brisbane in the same year with Janelle Gamble.  From a small beginning at Lake Alexander in the NT, the appeal is such that the movement has spread across Australia to include every State and Territory.



(c) Dragons Abreast Australia 

What types of membership are there?

Membership of Dragons Abreast Sydney is divided into the following classes:

  • Survivor who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Survivor Members, who subject to this Constitution, shall have the right to receive notice of General Meetings and to be present, to debate and to vote at, General Meetings.

Survivor membership does not require the member to participate in paddling. Survivor membership can be either paddling or non-paddling

  • Supporter who has not had a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Supporter Members, who subject to this Constitution, shall have the right to receive notice of General Meetings and to be present, to debate and to vote at, General Meetings.

Supporter membership does not require the member to participate in paddling. Survivor membership can be either paddling or non-paddling

  • Life Member who has been nominated by the Committee for Life Membership, having rendered distinguished service to Dragons Abreast Sydney and the sport of Dragon Boating.

The criteria for appointment to Life Membership and the conditions of and the rights and privileges of Life Membership shall be at the absolute discretion of the Committee. Their nomination has been passed by a Special Resolution of Dragons Abreast Sydney.  Life Members, who subject to this Constitution, shall have the right to receive notice of General Meetings and to be present, to debate and to vote at, General Meetings.

Life membership does not require the member to participate in paddling. Life membership can be either paddling or non-paddling

  • Associate Member is a supporter who is also a member of another DB NSW Dragon Boating Club who wishes to support and paddle with Dragons Abreast Sydney

Associate members for whom Dragons Abreast Sydney is not their primary club- do not have the right to receive notice of General Meetings or to be present, to debate and to vote at, General Meetings.