Water dragon

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dragon boat racing

Sitting at the front of 20 competitive paddlers, Dr Barry Young of Riverside Dental in Nerang, QLD, sets the pace for his dragon boat team.

“When I immigrated to the Gold Coast from New Zealand in 1988, I was a guy who never exercised. I was working as an associate dentist and my life revolved around my work and spouse. We joined the local Chinese club, because I’m of Chinese descent, and they had a dragon boat team.

“I took to dragon boating immediately. As I’m fairly lean, I’m the lead paddler at the front of the team. If the stroke rate is too fast or too slow then it’s up to the lead to get it back on track. The lead sets the pace then the drummer and the rest of the team follow. 

“We travelled to Sydney for our first national competition in 1993 which whet our appetite for higher goals. A year later, we travelled to Hong Kong for our first international competition at the Asian Dragon Boat Championship in Macau. We’ve had success at many national competitions and have often qualified for entry in the Dragon Boat World Championships. We’ve represented Australia in Nottingham in 1999, Philadelphia in 2001 and we’re hoping to be in Florida in July 2022. 

“Paddling a dragon boat is a tough workout. The boat weighs about 300 kilos and a full crew consists of 22 people. Races range between 500 metres and two kilometres, and you’re exhausted at the end of it. Our team is a very mixed bag of people, including council workers, doctors, nurses, business owners and a dentist.

“Having been paddling for many years, I spent some time as assistant coach and have recently become head coach. The role of the coach is similar to being a business owner—the ultimate responsibility falls on you. There are many times in a dental practice that we need to level up as leaders. Being a coach has certainly helped me manage those situations.

“One thing I really love about dragon boating is that it can change people’s lives. It can instil a self-belief in people that they may be lacking. There’s a breast cancer survivor’s dragon boat team highlighting support for sufferers of this common disease. Anyone who has ever considered dragon boating should give it a try. You’ll push yourself, enjoy the camaraderie, and get fitter than you have ever been.

“A great benefit of being physically fit is that it helps you think clearly and cope with stressful situations. My passion for dragon boating has flowed into my business life in many positive ways. I hope to continue both for many years to come.”

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