Dragons battle it out on Great Ouse

The sun shone brightly on a new dawn for Dragon Boat racing in St Neots this weekend. St Neots Dragon Boat Team hosted both the GB national teams under 18 training squad on Saturday and on Sunday the town’s first ever British Dragon Boat Association (BDA) National League event. 20 league teams from across the country entered the competition with a race schedule including 200m, 400m and a special 2km pursuit race on the Great Ouse between Lammas Meadow and Regatta Meadow.

Crew Manager Dan Clarke reviewed the weekend, “We have been working for almost 15 years to enter our town into the BDA national calendar, and I am certain that it is a direct result of the relationships we have built up within the BDA, through our support and hosting of the GB National Team training squads that finally enabled us to secure this event. The feedback we have received so far from both the league organisers and crew managers from the opposing teams has been incredible, as with our sporting performances, we are always looking to improve and we already have some thoughts as to how we can make the event bigger and better in future years. I am very confident that St Neots will be a permanent fixture on the BDA annual race calendar and one that all the biggest and best crews in the country relish attending.”

In another first for the town’s club, St Neots Dragon Boat team were able to enter two race day crews into the event, with both a BDA Premier league crew and a scratch team entering the line-up. Although neither of the host club’s crews picked up a trophy on the day, Dan Clarke enthused, “this is very much a transitional season for us, our paddling membership has grown massively this year with more than 20 brand new racing members coming aboard for whom it is crucial we earn them race day experience in a fun and low pressure environment. Our primary aim was always to grow the sport in the town and we are delighted at just how well we are progressing in doing this. Being able to enter two race crews with substitute’s places us firmly on track to meet our annual team objectives, most importantly, the atmosphere around the club is the best is has been in more than 5 years with everyone pulling together, enjoying what we are doing and enthusiastic to keep developing themselves and the sport.”

The crew has no time to rest and take stock of their successes as they now look to support the town’s Charity Regatta, to be held on Regatta Meadow on August 9th. The next few weekends will see St Neots Dragon Boat Team providing coaching and training to between 200 and 300 members of the charity crews to be in attendance. There is still time to enter a crew into the charity regatta for more information and an entry form, please contact St Neots Town Council on 01480 388912

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