Its becoming a tradition.
Once again, the Haliburton Highlands Paddlers have come home with hardware.
The Haliburton dragon boat team placed second in the Iron consolation division at the Annual Barrie Dragon Boat Festival.
But the local team’s fortunes didn’t end there. The 20-member squad was thrilled when race officials announced them as winners of the Rookie of the Year award.
Saturday’s well attended festival was especially competitive, Haliburton team president, Elli Armstrong, said.
“With 55 teams from across Ontario we knew before the races got underway, we’d have to work hard, stay focused and give it our all,” Armstrong said. The team was made up of 18 women and two strong men.
“Some teams came with 10 young men with muscle,” said Armstrong. But what gives Haliburton the edge is the attention and respect given to synchronicity, she said.
Coach, Janine Papadopoulos was especially proud of the performance. “Our team was awesome. We reduced our time with each race. It was a wonderful day.”
The Paddlers completed the third race at 1:32 and last 250-metre 1:26, a team record.
The team will certainly remember Saturday, said Armstrong. “It was the first time the Haliburton team paddled in a large lake.”
We learned about racing on big water. We knew we were up against muscle and lots of testosterone. Some of the young men could be our grandsons.”
Saturday marked the team’s fourth competition and they come home with hardware in all four, winning a bronze in Port Perry, a gold in Dundas and a silver in Port Perry last month.
Originating in China, dragon boating dates back to the 4th century.
Meanwhile, with 55 members, the Paddlers are enjoying their third season. The team practices twice a day on both Monday and Wednesday and Sunday afternoon on from the Patients News’ on Grass Lake from late May to early October.
Joining Papadopoulos to coach is Scotty Boyd and Lois Deacon.
They do an excellent job of steering the boat and giving direction, said Armstrong.
The Barrie Festival is in its 15th year. It raises money for local charities. To date, the Barrie festival has raised $1.6 million.
In keeping with the spirit of giving, the Paddlers raised $1,600.00 to be given to Haliburton’s Point in Time.
The funds were presented to Point in Time director and dragon boater, Marg Cox, at the coaches’ appreciation dinner.