15th Australian Masters

The Cockburn team on the banks of the Torrens River.

The Cockburn Blades team on the bank of the Torrens River.

Cockburn Blades sent a team to the Masters Games in Adelaide to compete in the Dragon Boat racing section of the games. The site for the regatta was an area called Pinky’s Flat which consisted of a parkland area next to the north side of the Torrens River in the Adelaide CBD. This area is in close proximity to the Adelaide Oval and Tennis Centre with the Parliament Building, Casino and Convention Centre just opposite on the south side of the Torrens.

The course was quite short, being 200 metres in length (not 250 metres, as expected) and the lanes not marked as such, however the boats loaded along the bank before paddling out under the traffic bridge to start with the sweep lining up the dragon boat and holding the coloured toggle which dangled from the bridge above. Once the starting gun was sounded the sweeps had to aim to the left of the buoy at the finish line which matched the colour of your toggle. Each of the 5 lanes had a different coloured toggle and finishing buoy to match.

Other movements on the river to avoid were the rowers, the ducks and “Pop Eye” the tourist boat that moved up and down the river from time to time. All of this made for interesting racing. However, as the program proceeded it soon became apparent the program was falling behind. This lead to the cancellation of a bracket of 10’s racing which included some of our races with was most disappointing as it meant that we could not improve of our race times for that event.

The tents were arranged in alphabetical order which meant that we were some distance away from marshalling and the announcers tent but close to the finishing line and both Albany and Amazons, the only other WA teams competing. Merchandise, food and coffee were close by and the Blades attacked all 3 with their usual enthusiasm.

Our team consisted of 13 women and 3 men with age ranges from Senior A through to Senior C. We were joined by 3 special guest paddlers. Garo from Surfers paradise, Julie from South Australia and Yvette from Albany. Some of our Woman also paddled with Albany in their Senior B 20’s and both Barbara and Ruth paddled with the Amazons. We also borrowed some Albany women for our Open 20’s event.

As a consequence of our numbers and age ranges, the only events we could compete as Cockburn Blades in were the Open events when we could use any combination of men and women from any age division. This was a huge challenge as we were competing against mostly male dominated crews in both the Senior A Open 10’s and the Senior A Open 20’s with only the Senior A Open Women’s 10’s competing of an equal gender footing. However we were still at somewhat of a disadvantage as we had only 4 Senior A women along with 3 senior B and 3 Senior C Women paddling in that event.

Having said that, all teams performed well and all paddlers gave their best as the Cockburn Blades were certainly not disgraced as the following results indicate.

The Senior A Women’s 10’s finished second in both their heats but finished just out of the medals in 4th overall out of 17 teams.

The Senior A Open 10’s finished 3rd and 5th in both their heats to finish 8th out of 10 teams.

The Senior A Open 20’s where we co-opted some of the Albany women, the team paddled 3 heats, winning 1 and coming 2nd and 3rd in the others. However these great results were not enough to allow the team to place higher than 5th out of 10 teams in this event as placings were calculated on race times not race finishing positions.

At the end of the day we sat and waited for the medal presentations knowing that although we had paddled well and thoroughly enjoyed our campaign we would not feature in the medals.

However to the whole teams delight the Amazons picked up a Gold Medal in the breast cancer survivors event which included both Barbara and Ruth. There was much cheering and clapping as the Amazons medals were presented and we were all so proud and pleased for both Ruth and Barb who had more paddling commitments that the rest of us. As well as paddling for the Amazons they also paddled with Albany and on both days had to leave our Hotel early to fulfil their paddling duties. Some of the Albany women who paddled with us in the Senior A Open 20’a also tasted success as the Albany team won gold in the Senior C Women’s 10’s thus adding to the WA teams  success.

As we all went out for a team dinner to celebrate our success there were two particular team members who had rather large grins on their faces, and who could blame them.

Some of the group then went on to enjoy the closing ceremony to round a great Masters Games experience that was the 15th Masters Games 2015.

Adelaide was very welcoming and the locals were friendly and most helpful overall as most of us did quite a bit of walking around the city centre.

The next Masters Games will be in Tasmania in 2017 for those wishing to attend.


Michael Courtis

Team Manager.

The start line.

 The start line – the sweeps hung on to a coloured toggle hanging from the bridge.

Cockburn Blades Senior A Women's 10's team

Cockburn Blades Senior A Womens 10’s team.


Long-serving members honoured at first regatta

The day started bright and early for the Cockburn Blades as the first regatta of the season also celebrated the clubs 30th Anniversary. The members proceeded to set up the tents and the BBQ. The substantial raffle prizes were well displayed and caught the eye of many a paddler willing to try their luck. Club members also contributed to setting for DBWA and helping other clubs unload their boats.