Dragon Boat Festival at Sherborne Castle Country Fair

Bourne Water Dragons compete in 3 dragon boat races at the Dragon Boat Festival on the grounds of Sherborne Castle

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Bourne Water Dragons compete in 3 dragon boat races at the Dragon Boat Festival on the grounds of Sherborne Castle

A bright and breezy early Bank holiday morning saw an exodus of Bourne Water Dragons head to the northwest corner of Dorset to participate in the Dragon Boat Festival at Sherborne Castle Country Fair. The setting was wonderful on the grounds of Sherborne Castle, built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594 on a 55-acre lake constructed by the world-famous Gardener and Landscape architect Capability Brown 2 centuries later.

The hillside looking down on the lake was packed with gazebos belonging to the 21 competing teams and their supporters and spectators. It was truly an idyllic competitive atmosphere in the bright sunshine.

Under the organisation of our team leader Helen Steege and our qualified coaches, Bob King and Dave Buckland leading the tactics, crew placement and warm-ups, we made our way to the pontoon for our first race, though with a hint of nervousness.

On the starting line, we joked and jested with the young (compared to us) opposition the Harbour Dragons who, we established, were a team of medical staff from Poole Hospital. Our preparation, experience and a bit of mature cunning soon left them in our wake, and a tired but relieved BWD team gave the Harbour Dragons a resounding three cheers at the finish line. We decided it best to stay on good terms if we met again in less fortunate circumstances.

As the competition progressed towards the end of round one, it became apparent that in our current 6th position, we would need to find at least an extra 5 seconds over the 250 metre course to qualify for the 4-boat final.

In our second race, we gave it our all! Our dedicated paddlers at the back said it felt fast but “splashy”. We, again, were the comfortable winners with a time improvement of one and a quarter seconds (0:1:25).

Third race; our last opportunity to post a final qualifying time. We were against our neighbours, the Pink Champagne, who had already posted a qualifying time for the final. Our time here was within half a second of our best time of the day. It was nice to win this race comfortably. We finished tired and happy to be in the top half of the competition.

We all had a great day! We paddled well, as evidenced by the videos taken, and left very content to be a part of a supportive, friendly and inspirational team.

Thank you, and well done Bourne Water Dragons.

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