Wed, Dec 13, 2023 8:00 AM

Young dragons join boating team


William Woodworth

Two young paddlers have been making a name for themselves, soon after jumping on board with their first ever team.

Brother and sister duo James and Haley Goodwin, 13 and 12 years old respectively, have been training with Marlborough’s Simply the Breast’s competitive dragon boating team.

And after only a few months of paddling the duo are already showing huge promise.

It’s been a dream come true, Haley says.

“I was able to get in the boat for my 12th birthday as a bit of a birthday present, but now I’ve started doing the drumming for the team as well.

“There’s lots of responsibility behind that because you’re the only one looking back at the team and getting them to keep the timing.

“We didn’t get to use the drums racing in Christchurch, so I just spent the weekend shouting timing at people.”

The pair tackled their first regatta, the Ice Breaker in Christchurch last month. Haley and Simply the Breast claimed a 2nd in the 200m and a 3rd in the 500m in their division while James was recruited to join the Northern Phoenix open team – and both were given glowing appraisals from organisers.

“I wanted to wait to get into the boat until Haley could, so we both only started in October on the water, but it’s been fun and challenging so far”, says James.

“The racing with the Phoenix was a step up to something new”.

“It’s just like any sports team, because they’ll have different timings and patterns but that was a level up in intensity.”

Northern Phoenix president Julie Robinson says that she and the team were pleased to have new faces from new places aboard.

“We view Simply The Breast as our sister team, providing female paddlers to help fill their boat at regattas in the past so it was nice to have it the other way around”, says Julie.

“James joined our premier mixed team and paddled his heart out for all 6 races – helping us achieve 3rd place in the 'A' finals for both 200m and 500m distances.

“An executive member/paddler from another team even made a point of telling James how well he had been paddling, very high praise, and the fact that he was being watched by other teams is awesome.

“It's always good to have the younger members of our community on board our teams, they are the future of our wonderful sport and we try to encourage a mentoring attitude, within our team, to keep that addiction for dragon boating going.

After being the two youngest competitors at the Ice Breaker, James and Haley hope that other kids across the South Island pick up the paddles.

“We’re hoping that Marlborough schools might be interested to start doing some dragon boating because the Sunday’s out on the water are so nice,” says Haley.

“It’s a great level for anyone with such a cool team, and there’s definitely some family competitiveness involved too.”

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