May 11, 2022
The Rowbust Dragon Racing team, comprised of a local group of 70 breast cancer survivors, has been rowing locally, nationally and around the world for 22 years. Along with training three times a week all year round, competing in dragon boat races, and finding meaning in connecting with nature while on the water and creating meaningful friendships with fellow teammates, they have organized and run the Fanshawe Dragon Boat Festival. This year the Festival is back after a two-year pause due to COVID-19.
Linda Kuska, RN, Victoria Hospital Surgical Care, is one of the original members of the team and the current Captain of this nine-time Canadian National Champions, three-time Club Crew World Champions (2014 Italy, 2016 Australia, 2018 Hungary) dragon boat racing crew. “The local community has been so good to us, supporting us, recognizing us when they see us out in our Rowbust jackets, that we wanted to give back.”
In a token of appreciation for the community, the team started the Fanshawe Dragon Boat Festival. After being paused for two long years, it makes it’s triumphant return on Saturday, June 11! The Festival is open to everyone aged 11+ and open to all skill levels. “After being stuck inside, in front of a computer or other screen for the last two years, we hope people take this opportunity to get outside, enjoy nature, the serenity of the water, and the fun of friendly competition,” says Kuska.
The Rowbusters know a thing or two about needing the time to get away from life’s stresses, working on your fitness, and connecting with others. “We’re all breast cancer survivors,” Kuska explains, “We each went through a serious health scare and when we came through, we came together. I have never been in better shape than I am now, and my connection with my teammates helps me through the tough times. Getting out on the water and getting away from the stresses of life and the hospital, has helped me stay resilient through it all.”
Kuska and the Rowbust team want other frontline workers to experience the fun, camaraderie, and sense of escape too by getting a team of rowers together and signing up for the Fanshawe Dragon Boat Festival.
The pandemic has awakened many to what is truly important in their lives – and often those important pieces include spending time in nature, building community and spending time with loved ones and creating new friendships. You can start that new alignment of your priorities with the Festival!
As a part of the Festival a collaboration called Paddle for a Purpose with LHSF is made so teams can raise money for other local cancer survivors. Rowbust is passionate about this connection because they have all been treated at the cancer clinic at LHSC, and want to give back to the clinic and help other local cancer patients and survivors.
Teams can also donate to Rowbust, which is a registered charity, and all money raised goes towards their expenses related to travel and competitions they compete in locally, nationally, and internationally.
The information you need to know about the Fanshawe Dragon Boat Festival:
How many people do you need for a team?
- 20-24. There are three races on race day. If everyone wants to paddle in all of the races, you just need 20. But if you’re not sure if everyone wants to do all of the races, get more people for your team.
How long are the races?
- 500m. There are three rounds (races). Each team gets a first round, a semi-round, and a final/championship round.
When does the Festival start?
- The day begins around 8:00 a.m. and usually wraps up around 3:00 p.m.
Can you sign-up if your team has never done a dragon boat race before?
- Absolutely! No experience required. As a part of the registration fees, every team gets two, one-hour-long practice sessions. On race day, each team will have a “drummer” at the front of the boat (typically one of the Rowbusters), and a professional steer person to ensure safety while on the water.
How old do you have to be to compete?
- Anyone aged 11 years old and older can be on a team! Currently, there are four youth teams aged 11-17 signed up for the Festival.
Where can people register?
When do you have to register by?
- Friday, May 20 is the registration deadline. Don’t miss it!
Do teams need to bring their own life jackets or paddles?
- You will be provided with paddles, life jackets, and coaching. At the Festival there will also be food and merchandise vendors. The Festival happens close to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village, and there’s lots to do in the conservation area once the Festival is finished. Free entry into park that day.
When do the practice sessions take place?
- Monday, May 30 to Thursday, June 9, the practices will be three hours and take place from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
For more information about the Rowbust Dragon Boat team, visit their website: http://www.rowbustdragonboat.com/
For more information about the Fanshawe Dragon Boat Festival, please visit: http://www.fanshawedragonboatfestival.com/