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Bei-view paddlers

Think Local

It's an overcast day, pretty bleak really. But that hasn't stopped more than 40 people from heading down to Rowlands Reserve on this Sunday morning to hit the water.

As they do three times a week, members of the Bei Loon Dragon Boat Club, one of the largest dragon boat clubs in the country, are congregating on the Bayview sand. They're all looking resplendent in their club colours. And the emblazoned dragon on the front of their shirts is the talisman - Peninsula Living has been told by a reliable source that Bei Loon literally translates to 'Northern Dragons' in either Mandarin or Cantonese.

And we might be a long way from the Pearl River Delta, where dragon boating emerged more than 2000 years ago, but is there anywhere else you'd prefer to be entering the shallows than Pittwater?

We get a shake of the head from long time paddler Linda Collins. We are so lucky to be able to train here. From Bayview we go to Scotland Island around to McCarrs Creek, sometimes even to Palm Beach," enthuses Ms Collins.

“It's beautiful and so much fun, which is why we have so many members from all over the Northern Beaches and even from places like St Ives."

So what else is there to love about the sport of dragon boating? President Terry Stewart jumps in. “One of the things that appeals to people, certainly me, is that if you've got dicky knees and can't run any more, you get bored with swimming, and you don't like cycling because of the dangers - this is a fantastic alternative,” Mr Stewart tells Peninsula Living.

“You come down - it's not crew critical in the sense that if you're in a surf boat crew for argument's sake, and one guy doesn't turn up you're buggered. We can take the boats out and paddle with ten people, provided we've got enough to carry them to and from the water.”

Recruitment manager, Sean Foster, adds another prong, it's competitive for those who want it to be,” he explains.

"We always send crews to national and state championships and have done very well.”

Indeed they have, the club which was formed in 2003 by Glenn and Wendy Smythe, currently holds four NSW race records. It is also expected that no less than seven members will be picked in the 2016 NSW state squad, which will compete in Adelaide over Easter.

This month they will head to Penrith, where they will enter four race categories at the state championships - the grand master’s mixed, master’s mixed, women's masters and master’s open.

But the club certainly isn't driven by competition as new member Andy Kyiet explains.

"I wanted to find something that would keep me in good condition that didn't involve running because I've got arthritic feet," he tells Peninsula Living.

"I like to keep fit, I play tennis and golf and cycle but I'm getting a bit over the gym so this is a really excellent alternative to the gym and you're in a boat with 19 other people it's like having 19 personal trainers with you.

"But it's also the social aspect, everyone is so friendly and everyone has the same interests so we all get on really well."

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