Thursday, 30 January 2020

2020 is our 15th anniversary year

As the end of January 2020 approaches, the summer racing season ahead is getting closer for our 12+ teams.  We are now in the middle of a 5-year plan to modernize the club and take that next leap forward.    We are very excited for the future and growing our unique and well known brand of accessibility for people of all abilities, in a fun, fair, supportive, safe, and non-profit environment.  We are currently still based on Ashbridges Bay in the east end of Toronto, but will be expanding over the years beyond these shores.

This year we are using TeamSnap for all our paddlers registrations for teams, rather than Survey Monkey which we have used for over a decade.  It now incorporates registration, waivers, etc all in one, and allows for tracking of scheduled practices and regattas, as well as enabling easier team and club-wide communications.  We are also now using Zoom account for online meetings and conference calls - available to all teams.  We also use it for partner meetings.

Our team programs have mostly been finalized now, with budgets set, as well as coaches hired and team co-captains identified.  To finish this first blog entry in a loooong time, here is a list of details and status for our 12 core teams.  Questions?  Contact

2020 Rusty Dragons teams (v4 - Jan 22, 2020)

*** ALL teams are looking for new paddlers.  This is a summary of the differences between the teams - which are all very similar, but just different combinations of practices dates/times and regattas (races).


* Team for breast cancer survivors AND anyone else (men or women) interested in joining.
 - Co-Captains: Nancy Martin & Geri Arellano-Sison.
 - Coach: Tim MacFarlane. 
 - 20 practices: Wednesdays 7-8 PM (May 6 to Sept 23).
 - 4 regattas: 
   > Peterborough (Sat June 13), 
   > Canada Day (Wed July 1), 
   > Guelph (Sat Aug 8), 
   > Christie Lake (Sat Sept 26).
 - Cost: $391  ($370 early bird until Feb 15).
 ==> Registration link:


* Mixed-gender team with many experienced paddlers.
 - Co-Captains: Anitha Cyriac & Janelle Rose.
 - Coach: Peter Polyzotis.
 - 20 practices: Thursdays 7-8 PM (May 7 to Sept 17).
 - 2 regattas: 
   > Peterborough (June 13), 
   > Stratford (Sept 19).
 - Cost: $313  ($295 early bird until Feb 15).
 ==> Registration link:


* Mixed-gender team with many experienced paddlers.
 - Coach: Natalie Wong 
 - Co-Captains: Shalini Venkataramaiah & Babar Awan.
 - 21 practices: Thursdays 7-8 PM (May 7 to Sept 24).
 - 4 regattas: 
   > Canada Day (Wed July 1), 
   > GWN Sport (Sat July 11), 
   > Woodstock (Sat Aug 8), 
   > Christie Lake (Sept 26).  
 - Cost: $432  ($412 early bird until Feb 15).
 ==> Registration link:


* Mixed-gender LGBTQ and Ally (others who like this time slot) team with many experienced paddlers.
 - Captain: Dana Quinn.  
 - Coach: Gary Pang.
 - 18 practices: Sundays 12:00-1:15 PM (May 10 to Sept 6).  Extra 15 minutes each practice!
 - 2 regattas: 
   > Canada Day (Wed July 1), 
   > GWN Challenge (weekend of Sept 12-13).
 - Cost: $381  ($363 early bird until Feb 15).
 ==> Registration link:


* Mixed-gender team focused on staff at the various U of T libraries in the GTA.
 - Co-Captains: Jack Leung & Christina Santolin.
 - Coach: Ann Forbes-Arndt. 
 - 8 practices: Fridays 7-8 PM (May 8 to June 26).
 - 1 regatta: 
   > Canada Day (Wed July 1).
 - Cost: $166
 ==> Registration link:


* Mixed-gender LGBTQ team that moved from Sunnyside to Ashbridges Bay last year.
 - Co-Captains: Kevin Donovan, Yvonne Falke, Peter Kamphuis, Patty Barclay.  
 - Coach: Bethany Yam 
 - 18 practices: Tuesdays 6-7 PM (May 5th to Aug 4th)
 - 3 regattas:
   > Port Perry (June 20)
   > Hamilton (Sat July 4)
   > Woodstock (Sat Aug 8)
 - Cost: $TBD
 ==> Registration link:


* LGBTQ team for women professionals.
 - Captain: Jacki Lewis
 - Coach: Catharine McInnis 
 - 18 practices: Wednesdays 6-7 PM (May 13 to Sept 23)
 - 2 regattas:
   > Canada Day (Wed July 1)
   > Christie Lake (Sat Sept 26)
 - Cost: $297  ($280 early bird until Feb 15).
 ==> Registration link:


* Neighbourhood team that is loosely based on Harbord Village (Bathurst/Bloor to Spadina/College) but is open to anyone who likes this time slot.
 - Captain: Kate Lushington.
 - Coach: Caroline Cook. 
 - 7 practices: Thursdays 6-7 PM (May 14 to June 25).
 - 1 regatta: 
   > Canada Day Regatta (Wed July 1).
 - cost: $155  ($145 early bird until Feb 15).
 ==> Registration link:


* NEW Neighbourhood team that is based on Beaches and Upper Beaches are in east end of Toronto, but is open to anyone who likes this time slot.
 - Coach: Tim MacFarlane. 
 - Captain: TBD.
 - 6 practices: Tuesdays 7-8 PM (May 19 to June 23).
 - 1 regatta: 
   > Canada Day Regatta (Wed July 1).
 - Cost: $146  ($136 early bird until Feb 15).
 ==> Registration link:


* Team for youth and young adults with an intellectual/developmental disability, and their families, friends, and supporters. 
 - Coach: Ann Forbes Arndt & Tim MacFarlane. 
 - Co-Captains: TBD. (There is a big committee of 10-12 people).
 - ?? practices: Saturdays 1-2 PM (dates TBD).
 - 1 regatta: 
   > Canada Day Regatta (Wed July 1).
   > Possible option for Welland (Sat Aug 29).
 - Cost: $TBD.
 ==> Registration link: 


* Women's collective team who form from above teams generally for extra races on the side.
 - Co-Captains: Lolita Uy & Kelly Ziger.
 - Coach(es): TBD.
 - ?? practices: TBD (possible some Tuesdays 7-8 PM).
 - 2? regattas: (each separately organized)
   > Toronto Women's Regatta (Brampton) (Sun May 24).
   > Canada Day Regatta - Women's Race (Wed July 1).
 - Cost: $TBD (for each separate event).
 ==> Registration link: 


* Mixed-gender team restricted to members of above teams who want more racing.  Interested paddlers will meet in February to plan what they want to do.
 - Co-Captains: TBD.
 - Coach(es): TBD.
 - ?? practices: TBD (likely Mondays 7-8 PM -ish, or Saturdays).
 - ? regattas: TBD
   > Possibly Canadian Championships in Welland (July 24-26).  Includes 5 race distances this year.
 - Cost: $TBD.
 ==> Registration link: 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

10th Anniversary Celebration and Awards Party

On the evening of Saturday November 28, 2015 we held our 10th anniversary party at Boston Pizza (Beaches) not too far from our practice site.  It was attended by almost 50 people who represented many of our 19 teams this past season.  Besides good food and drink, we had a number of lucky draws and also handed out some awards.

A 16-page Rusty Dragons 10th Anniversary booklet was also presented which included lots of information and statistics for reference.  While that booklet will be made public, here are some excerpts from the booklet...

Highlights of our 2015 season 
(12 events - 28 team registrations to them)

1. Puerto Rico DB Festival (Jan 31) – Small boat, on Lagos Cerillos.
    Rusty Dragons (open team) – 4th place!

2. Florida Camp (April 12-19) - in Indian Harbour, FL
    Rusty Dragons - 3rd place in 2000m of 18 teams over two weeks!

3. Milton regatta (May 23)
    Sight Unseen – Qualifier for Nationals.

4. St Catharines (June 13)
    Sight Unseen / Pink Crusaders (bronze)

5. Canadian Championships - Dragon Boat Canada (June 26-28)
    Sight Unseen (gold / national BPS Champions)!

6. DDRA (OPS) Canada Day Regatta at Toronto's Center Island (July 1)
    11 Teams (gold / silver / bronze / trophy)!

7. Hamilton Waterfest (July 4)
    Motley Crew (gold in a gutsy final race)

8. Montreal Challenge (July 25-26)
    Motley Crew – great road trip / team building.

9. Pan Am Club Crews (Aug 14-16) – Small boat in Welland, ON.
    Sight Unseen (gold) / Are We There Yet (silver)

10. GWN Dragon Boat Challenge (Sept 12-13)
     Five Teams / Sight Unseen (gold and trophy)

11. Christie Lake Conservation Area (Sept 26)
     OPS Barracudas (merged w/teams) – medals!

12. 27 KM River Run (Oct 3)
     Not a race / huge headwind / 11 paddlers!  We survived!

Statistics from 2015 to Ponder...

  Unique Teams   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   19
  Unique Regattas Entered  - - - - - - - - - - -   11

  Regatta-team Registrations   - - - - - - - - -   28
  Total Practice Hours   - - - - - - - - - - - -  175

  Total Number of Races    - - - - - - - - - - -   90
  Total Distance Raced (m) - - - - - - - - -   74,500

  Total Paddler Registrations    - - - - - - -    508
  Number of Coaches  - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   13

  Total Sets Medals Won  - - - - - - - - - - - -   20
  Total Medals & Trophies  - - - - - - - - - - -  343

  Total Fees Collected  - - - - - - - - - - - $52,800
  Spirit of Life fundraising  - - - - - - - - -  $900

  Year-end Balance (Nov25) - - - - - - - - - -   $822

Recognition Awards

Many people were thanked at the event, especially our coaches.  Team captains were also key in taking care of their teams, as well as our many volunteers.  Six people stood out as going above and beyond for the team, club, and/or paddlers...

  1. Myra Rodrigues - Broad and detailed support for the blind team.
  2. Estelle McCalmont - coaching and officiating support. 
  3. Ingrid Schurr - team and paddler support, race jersey design. 
  4. Edwin Huang - club support , community outreach.
  5. Valerie Mills - long-term club support, Florida Camp support
  6. Lele Chiu - long time club support and Canada Day support.

Highlights of our past ten seasons 

  • Balmy Beach Canoe Club (home sweet home)
  • Florida Training Camp (Space Coast DBC)
  • Kraken Krew (Parents and Kids team) – 2006+
  • Puerto Rico / Colorado / Phoenix / Las Vegas
  • Corporate & Community World Championships in ‘07
  • Great White North events – The gold standard
  • Lively Dragon events – Christie Lake, River Run
  • Canada Day Regatta – Rusty Dragons are host!
  • Canadian Championships – 2014/15 BPS Champs
  • Pan Am Club Crew Championships – BPS Division
  • Formation of our blind team – 2013
  • Formation of the Pink Crusaders (BCS) team - 2014
  • Afterburn Fitness (paddle pool) – Andrew Liew
  • One Gorgeous Boat / 2014 World Pride Parade

Monday, 26 October 2015

2015 End of Season Thoughts...

End of season thoughts...

The season came to a close a week ago today (October 19th) with our last open practice of the season.  It's been getting dark faster every day and for safety we couldn't be out and about into the dark.  I see posts from other sites that they are now too closed for the season (Outer Harbour DBC, West Rouge CC, etc).  While there is still good paddling weather left, it was time to close down and focus on planning for next year.

This was a great season with many Firsts: teams, events, and MANY new paddlers.  And as we completed our 10th season at the Rusty Dragons, we realize we need to take planning to the next level or else we will suffer further growing pains!  We also want a make-over on the website to better get the message across who we are and make it easier for anyone to find the information they are looking for.  We realize that it is confusing for a new person to see so many options.  We also want to freely share more information for paddlers, coaches, team captains, managers... anywhere in the world.

The objective is always for quality, fun, and cost-effective programs.

We have a special event coming up to celebrate the past season, as well as the past ten years of teams and events at the Rusty Dragons.  Mark your calendars for...

     Date / Time: Saturday November 28th, 2016 - 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
     Location:  Boston Pizza Beaches, SW corner of Leslie St & Lake Shore Blvd East.

The event will be a celebration of teams and paddlers, as well as sharing the vision for the next 5 years.  We'll also elect members of a club-level executive.

Saturday October 17th - Rusty Dragons as an exhibitor at the
Vision Quest 2015 event at Toronto Hilton

Planning for 2016 has begun, with some events already set up...

    Location: Ponce, Puerto Rico (base camp) - Race on Lagos Cerillos in mountains.
    Date: Feb. 6th, 2016 (we plan to arrive a few days before, and return Monday).
    Cost: $
    Location: Melbourne, Florida (Pines Resort / Crowne Plaza Oceanside)
    Date: Week of April 17-24th, 2016
    Cost: $400 USD or $460 CAD
The new executive, as well as team captains and paddler representatives will be working together on the programs for existing teams.

Stay tuned on the Rusty Dragons Adventures Facebook page for latest details, as well as the website (which is undergoing a make-over).

Phone: 647-971-7332

Friday, 14 March 2014

Toronto Neighbourhood Dragon Boat Challenge Cup

The Rusty Dragons are continuing to promote the participation of local neighbourhood associations in the Canada Day Regatta. The first was in 2013 with the creation of the Harbord Village dragon boat racing team.  This neighbourhood is centred on the area between Bloor and College, and Spadina and Bathurst.  Click HERE for the Harbord Village Residents Association (HVRA) website and HERE for the Rusty Dragons HV team page.

Centre Island - July 1st, 2013 - Harbord Village dragon boat racing team.
Another new team in the works is for the York Quay Neighbourhood Association (YQNA).  Click HERE for their official website, and HERE for the team page.  I attended a YQNA meeting on March 11th which was very informative to me regarding some important issues facing the City of Toronto.  Thank you Ulla and Allan for the invitation.  In this neighbourhood the issues hit really close to home.  They are battling the expansion of the Billy Bishop Airport to include an extended runway and addition of jets. This is a very serious issue that should not be allowed or the noise, traffic congestion, and safety concerns will tarnish our great waterfront and efforts underway to revitalize it.  Check out #NoJetsTO on FaceBook or Twitter.   MPP Rosario Marchese was at the meeting to update us on the issue, answer questions, and also address efforts he is leading to remove the OMB from having jurisdiction over Toronto. The OMB causes huge added expenses for city planners, and taxpayers money at many levels.  We want to allow people to enjoy the waterfront, and forming a dragon boat team from here is one way to enjoy the waterfront and highlight the many uses and values of our waterfront.  I introduced the concept of a team to the participants of that meeting and it was received very well.

The Toronto skyline - as viewed from Centre Island - location of the DDRA Canada Day regatta
There is also the possibility of a team being formed from the Corktown, Bathurst Quay, and Annex neighbourhoods.  If you want help forming a team in your neighbourhood, please don't hesitate to ask.

The teams will compete against each other (for fun) for the Toronto Neighbourhood Dragon Boat Challenge Cup at the 130th annual DDRA Canada Day Regatta at Toronto's Centre Island.  This regatta is open to any recreational teams in Toronto, and is one of the oldest mixed regattas in the world (formed in 1884 for canoe, kayak, and rowers, with dragon boats added in 2003).  Rusty Dragon Tim is the dragon boat coordinator for this event, and organizes Ontario Public Service (OPS) volunteers and their teams at the event.  The OPS teams compete for the OPS Challenge Cup.  But this is another blog entry for another day.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Fitness and Pool Paddling program at AFTERBURN

I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted an entry on the Rusty Dragons blog.  SO... as this is going to be quite literally an AMAZING year ahead on so many fronts, I am going to try to share more of what is going on. There are some incredible initiatives under way that will make this year very special to me and our group of coaches, captains, business partners, and volunteers.  And of course OUR PADDLERS, who are the reason we all volunteer our time to bring smiles to their faces.

There is too much on the go at the moment WRT planning to even know where to start, so I will just start with what's on deck right now with paddlers. The Rusty Dragons started their first-ever fitness and pool paddling program on Monday March 8th and it runs for 11 weeks. It is held at Afterburn Performance Fitness ( which is a brand new facility owned by Andrew Liew (a dragon boat coach himself).

Within a week the Monday time slot filled to capacity of over 20 participants, so I am now making arrangements for a 2nd day, likely Thursdays starting March 20th.  The cost works out to under $15 per 2-hour session and includes an hour of fitness work led by Andrew, followed by an hour in their specially built paddle pool coached by me (Tim).  The picture below was taken the week before our first session when we were there to check out the facility.  Pictured (left to right) are Taras, Mohammad, and Anthony.  More pictures coming soon of the whole gang in action.

Program web page: 2014 Pool Paddling Program 

Anyone is welcome to join this program.  We have now had two good practices and are settling into a routine.  Paddlers are from at least 10 different teams, and note that 5 are from the BPS Toronto team (a team for blind or partially sighted paddlers).  I have to mention that Taras himself is an amazingly motivated paddler from the BPS Toronto team.  He is also going to Jim Farintosh's Pines camp in Florida with 21 other Rusty Dragons.  Taras happens to also be deaf (he has tunnel vision).  Anyone can paddle a dragon boat if they want to.

Other initiatives underway (in no particular order) that I will update you on later...

> Florida Camp - Paddle with dolphins in mid-April.
BPS Toronto - going to the Canadian Championships.
> New Motley Crew team - going to Canadian Championships.
> 130th DDRA Canada Day Regatta. Oldest mixed regatta in the world.
> Balmy Beach Canoe Club - a great practice site for your team!
> Spirit Challenge dragon boat - people with developmental disabilities.
> World Pride dragon boat - A new team that will also be in the parade!
> Colorado Dragon Boat Festival - We're going back... wanna come?
> Toronto Neighbourhood Dragon Boat Challenge!
> OPS Challenge Cup - Ontario Public Service teams.
> How to start your own team - It's easy!  Contact me anytime.
> and much more...

No one else does what we do.  Our objectives are to have fun, get fit, learn good technique, and enjoy the great Toronto waterfront scenery and fresh air.

See or contact or 647-971-7332.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any help with anything related to water sports in Toronto, including getting you connected to canoe/kayak clubs, rowing clubs, sailing clubs, outrigger and SUP opportunities, etc.  and dragon boat... ;)  We have connections across the city of Toronto, as well as in Pickering to the east and Hamilton to the west.

Paddles (and Oars) Up!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

I am looking forward to traveling to Denver in late July to race with Coby and the Flying Dragons at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (  The pictures below were provided by Coby (under raised paddle, 4th from back right).  I'll also be there to spend time with Rosalind and Michelle (Raytheon Rowing Racers) and the Kalyn (Unstoppable).  There will be standard Hong Kong style boat races and Taiwan-style boat "flag catcher" (see picture below) races to participate in.

Picture from the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival.  They have two Taiwan-style dragon boats they use for Flag Catcher races.  For those of us used to Hong-Kong style boats (BuK, Champion, SRS, Kahlua, Lively-Dragon, etc), these boats look like tanks!  But what a great new experience, which is what it is all about.  The clock stops when the flag is pulled at the end of the race.

See for details.

If anyone else is interested in going or wants more information, please don't hesitate to let me know.  I am wishing all my friends from Denver and area all the best as they practice and prepare for the festival.  We were all together at the Pines Camp in Florida in April.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Another great Florida training camp...

What an amazing week it was last week (April 14-21) at Jim Farintosh's "Pines Camp" at Indian Harbour Beach near Melbourne Florida.  This was by far the best year yet at the camp.  Jim has structured the camp schedule to maximize the paddle experience as well as offer optional outrigger and coaching courses.  The coaches are some of the best in Canada and the USA. 

Everyone there is focused on becoming better paddlers.  I spent 19 hours on the water paddling in 6 days (dragon boat plus outrigger canoe), which is like two months of practices condensed into one week for a normally twice-a-week paddling team.

We paddled with many dolphins and manatees up close every day in the canal and out in the river.  There were also "Squirrels" on the water (as in Squirrel! from the movie Up!, which was said whenever an elite canoe/kayak paddler (male or female) zipped by the dragon boats.  In past years, we saw Adam van Koeverden and Tom Hall on the water, and other Olympic and national paddlers from several countries.

My typical Monday to Friday schedule consisted of the following...
 > 6:15-7:30am - outrigger canoe (OC-1) paddling with Derek and Dave.
 > 9:00-10:15am - dragon boat practice #1.
 > 10:15-10:45pm - individual dragon boat practice for those interested.
 > 11:00-11:30am - stretch class.
 > 12:00-12:30pm - daily talk on various topics by coaches.
 > 1:00-3:00pm - coaching course with Albert McDonald.
 > 3:15-4:30pm - dragon boat practice #2.
 > 4:30-5:00pm - individual dragon boat practice for those interested.

Other scheduled camp or team items... 
 > Sun. - met as a team for the first time to discuss the week.
 > Mon. - camp social and also picked up our camp jerseys.
 > Mon. - video #1 review in card room.
 > Wed. - video $2 review in card room. 
 > Wed. - team dinner at Bonefish Willies (Rusty Dragons tradition).
 > Thur. - afternoon off >> went to Cocoa Beach / Ron Jon's.
 > Fri. - anyone interested on our team got to try outrigger canoe.
 > Sat. - short warm-up practice then a 2km (2x1km) race.
 > Sat. - camp BBQ and roasting/skits for coaches.
 > Sat. - Lou's Blues for 4 hours of live music and dancing til close!

Loading dock on the canal (with our Pines units in the right)

Old and New Friends...

In addition to the paddling, the icing on the cake is spending a week with the team with no worries (hopefully) of work, rush hour traffic, or other distractions.  It was great to see so many familiar faces from many teams, as well as make new friends.  Plans are already being made for next year.

The 2013 Rusty Beasts (11 Rusty Dragons + 9 Beasts from the East)

Next year...

The Rusty Dragons will likely be going both weeks of the camp in 2014 (full teams of 20 likely through our new club affiliations in the USA and Canada).  Pre-registration will open this summer to start building those teams.  Whether you are a beginner, novice, or experienced paddler, this camp is a great opportunity to take a break from the routine and take it up a notch.  Anyone can do the camp, and anyone is welcome to register.  The camp does not advertise, but relies on word-of-mouth.  This year, the camp filled to capacity in record time (weeks).  If you have any questions about the camp, just ask!

Can't wait for next year...