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...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Spirit Challenge Dragon Boat racing

At the Ministry of Finance Chinese New Year Banquet on February 15, 2013 I was approached by Anny Chow after my dragon boat speech to the 500 in attendance.  Anny is involved in the Spirit of Life (SOL) support organization for people with developmental disabilities. When she heard I support other teams as well as help organize the DDRA Canada Day Regatta at the Toronto Islands, she realized there was a potential partnership that could not only help her organization but the other Spirit Challenge teams as well.

Spirit of Life website: SOL Website

Anny (Past Chair of SOL and still an active member) then introduced me to 
Edward Lau (current president).  We had a long meeting to discuss the history behind the Spirit Challenge division and what they were looking for in an event.  It turns out, we were both in the right place at the right time and were keen to take advantage of this new opportunity.

As a result, I am excited that a framework for a new Spirit Challenge category has been developed for DDRA Canada Day Regatta (budget and race format) and I am working with Aaron at GWN regarding a dock system in support of all paddlers at the event.  There will now likely be a Community Division (3x500m races each team) and a Spirit Challenge Division (1x250m race) at the event.

The Rusty Dragons have committed to sponsor all Spirit Challenge teams at the event (with a $1200 donation), and we are working together with Spirit of Life (and shortly the DDRA) to come up with some additional sponsorship opportunities that we hope can match this donation to help make the event a reality.

Any interested in getting involved in supporting the Spirit Challenge initiative in any way should contact...
     > Tim MacFarlane ( - cell: 416-319-1867,
     > Edward Lau (, 

     > Anny Chow (anny,

This is shaping up to be a great new part of the special DDRA Canada Day Regatta that is celebrating it's 129th anniversary this summer (started in 1884 for canoe/kayak and rowing clubs, with dragon boats joining in 2003).


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Balmy Beach Dragon Boat Teams

Registration of teams practicing this summer at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club is underway for their two dragons boats. Time slots are available 7 days a week at very reasonable rental rates. Included in team booking packages are use of the facilities, life jackets, paddles, and paddler insurance. See their dragon boat program page at or contact me for details at

High School Program
Sara Jones is leading another season of a high school program at Balmy Beach.  The students practice twice a week for 2-hours each practice (using two boats) in the month of May as they prepare for the Pickering Youth (High School) Dragon Boat Championships. See the Pickering festival website at

UTSC Scartan Dragonboat
This enthusiastic group of paddlers have expanded to two boats this year!  Their team co-captains are Carmen, Kevin, and Massey and they are working out the program and regattas.  They practice Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and their website is:

UC Water Dragons
The U of T University College team captains are Albina Tyker and Fransciso Woo, and they are planning out a similar practice schedule to last year.  Their website is

Hail Mary
This team is still working out their schedule.  Their captain Anna Homem is looking forward to another exciting season for the all-women's team.

Rusty Dragons Kraken Krew
The 8th season of the parents and kids racing crew is raring to go.  They won the "B" Division of the 10th annual DDRA Canada Day Regatta beating out other adult teams by a boat length and we had 9-12 year old paddler on the boat plus their parents.  The team was formed back in 2006 by Tim MacFarlane who has coached them ever since.  See for more details.

Toronto Regional Office "Tough on the Water"
MTCS "Oars to Discover"
These two teams are running similar programs to last year and announcements will be made shortly.

Contact if your team is interested in booking practices at the site.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

2013 Canadian Dragon Boat EXPO

I am really looking forward to going to Dragon Boat Canada's 2013 Canadian Dragon Boat EXPO on the weekend of March 2-3 in Montreal (Canal Fitness - 5524 rue St-Patrick, #150). Registration is via Dragon Boat Canada's website at The schedule for the two-day event is also available via this site.

I have gone to the last two EXPO's in Toronto as a great opportunity for networking with other coaches, athletes, and event planners. There are many very useful sessions at the conference that are run by top Canadian coaches, medical and nutrition experts, event planners, etc. There are also pool paddling sessions, although to be honest I skip those as I want to maximize time networking at this unique event.

The event will also include the 2013 Canadian Indoor Dragon Boat Championships at 5-7pm Saturday night. There will be at least 7 Pickering Dragon Boat Club athletes and coaches in attendance, including Scott Murray, Andrew Milner, Suzanne Hennig, Jordan Morgan, Patrick Kelly, Tim MacFarlane (me), and Kevin Gale.

Special guests at the event will be Olympian Olympian Elise Marcotte on Saturday and former Montreal Canadian RW Chris Nilan (my FAV team) on Sunday.

In addition to attending the two-days of sessions, I will also be setting up a simple information table there promoting the DDRA Canada Day Regatta (we'd love to have a Montreal area teams come) as well as promoting the concept of kids in dragon boats (including details on my 8th year parents and kids team). 

Fellow PDBC athlete Kevin Gale will also have a table there for his line of Immunotec health products. See his website at for details, and contact Kevin if you are interested in any of his products, especially the Immunocal product that boosts your immune system and improves muscle repair with a natural product that boosts your body's production of glutothione. It's great for athletes!

I am car-pooling so if anyone wants to go then please give me a shout, even if it is just to visit good 'ol Montreal!  I will likely be leaving Toronto Friday morning and returning Sunday night.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Pickering Dragon Boat Club

The Pickering Dragon Boat Club (PDBC) held an important general meeting tonight for all athletes and coaches to talk about the upcoming season. The meeting was centered on the Senior A (Masters), Senior B (Grand Masters), and Senior C (Grand Dragon) teams.

Dragon Boat Canada Definitions: To qualify as a "Senior A" paddler in 2013 you must be 39 by 
June 1, 2013, a "Senior B" paddler must be 49 by June 1, 2013, and a "Senior C" paddler must be 59 by June 1, 2013.

Regattas and the priorities for each team were discussed and those details will be left for those who attended the meeting.  The PDBC Head Coach is Scott Murray and the other two primary coaches for this group are Andrew "Muff" Milner and Alex Hennig.  The PDBC website has been updated with information as well.  The Masters page can be seen at:

There is no question that the goal is to win GOLD at the 2013 Canadian National Dragon Boat Championships on August 23-25 at Elk Lake, Victoria, BC.  There we will make a statement to all other teams in Canada, and earn our right to represent Canada as a club at the the 9th Club Crew World Championships in Ravena, Italy on September 4-7, 2014. 

Last year the PDBC Masters team (40+) was a top 20 team in Canada (of any team of any age), and this year we plan to rise higher up the ranking. Other regattas we are competing at this summer are the Pickering Regatta (June 1), Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival (June 22-23), GWN Sport Regatta (July 20), and the Quinte Sprints (August 17).

Also at the meeting were the following vendors...

Stan Walton from Walton Sports ( who brought PDBC apparel for sizing and sale.  Walton Sports is the official supplier for Dragon Boat Canada as well.

> Sarah Moore from Durham Travel ( who will continue to help us with our national and international travel planning.

> Kevin Gale from Immunotec Research ( who brought some of his health product line and information.  Check his site out for details on his Immunocal product that contains the richest source of glutathione building blocks available.  Read about it on his site.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Balmy Beach Canoe Club (BBCC)

As February arrives, I am very happy to accept a new position with the Balmy Beach Canoe Club (BBCC) as their new Dragon Boat Coordinator.  This position was previously held by Heather Smith who made a big impact last year with her re-organization of the dragon boat registration and support process. Heather has a young son at home and also lives in Burloak area that is far west from BBCC. She decided to step back a little and focus on her growing family and her teaching job. I very much wish her all the best, and I hope she is able to squeeze some paddling into her schedule in the area closer to home.  As I worked with Heather last year for my Rusty Dragons teams and other teams I supported, I can't say enough good things about what Heather did for both us and BBCC.

This year signals a change in direction at BBCC. They have decided to begin developing their own dragon boat programs and work on a new model for the use of the site by all sports. I am very happy that I have been entrusted to be part of the team that will work on that restructuring and development work. BBCC will have two of their own boats at their facility for the first time. 

The OPS Dragon Boat Club who previously had their boat there will be moving their boat to another location in April. I had brought the OPS boat to BBCC and drafted a mutually beneficial MOU 6 years ago after we had to leave Outer Harbour (when GWN left that site). BBCC certainly thanks the OPS DBC for their years of support and use of the site.

There are many great people at BBCC, which is why I have enjoyed working there at the site, and working with the Dominion Day Regatta Association (DDRA) for whom many members are from BBCC. Their Commodore is Anne Buckley, Treasurer is Gaynor Reader, Rear Commodore Dave Moore, head coach Peter Martinek, high school program coordinator Sara Jones, past Commodore Rob Cook, Master's Coordinator Shannon Doyle, and many others I have been fortunate to know.  I am very excited to start working more closely with BBCC.  

Last year I also signed up for Masters program where I got my first taste of sprint kayak (I raced in a K2 on Canada Day), and war canoe. I have a new appreciation for the skill and balance needed for these sports (and I already knew it was difficult). I am sure there will be more for me here! I am also looking for opportunities to introduce others in dragon boat world to these sports through arrangement of try-outs for those interested.

Kids are especially welcome to join the BBCC and learn to paddle sprint canoe, kayak, war canoe, or dragon boats. See their website at for more information as well as contact details. For dragon boat information, you can contact me at

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Space Coast Dragon Boat Camp

This camp is better known as The Pines (Resort) Dragon Boat Training Camp, none other than Jim Farintosh's camp that he ran for years with GWN and is now running independently after GWN moved to a new location. The Pines has a long history with canoe/kayak/rowing athletes who also share the location due to the protected straight canals and early spring good weather.  

There are more than dragon boats at the Pines!

I'll never forget being at the camp in April 2008 which was just months prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We paddled in our dragon boats as Canadian Olympians such as Adam van Koeverden and Tom Hall zoomed past. In fact, there were many Olympians there from several other countries, including USA, Germany, Holland, etc.   By the way, today is Adam's birthday!

In subsequent years, after the release of the Up! movie in 2009, we would frequently use the code SQUIRREL! on our boat so we knew when to snap our heads to the side as a sleek hulled canoe or kayak would sprint by powered by a well-muscled male or female paddler. Adam was attending his incredible 18th career Florida training camp that year in 2008 as they worked towards Canadian Olympic selection trials in May.  Go to to see Adam's site and blog entries.

"Squirrel!!" from the Up! movie (May 2009)

The camp is a week (6 days) in duration and includes twice daily paddles for over an hour per session, as well as daily talks on various important topics, warm-up and stretch sessions, and camp wide BBQ and social events.  It ends with a fun regatta and BBQ on the final Saturday, and usually includes a mid-week 8km round-trip paddle to the causeway to earn our "Causeway Club" bracelets. It's a great opportunity to network with paddlers from all over North America and some from beyond.  Campers may also sign up for optional Coaching certification and Outrigger canoe paddling.

Rusty Dragons Serge and Sal in OC-2 practice at the Pines

We usually get a half-day off after the Causeway paddle, when many of us head together to Cocoa Beach for some sun, surf, and SHOPPING!  While the camp is sold out for 2013, please don't hesitate to contact Jim Farintosh if you have any questions, or check out his Face Book page for the camp called "Space Coast Dragon Boat Camp".  It's a great way to kick start your season and make some new friends for life.

Cocoa Beach side trip from Pines after Causeway paddle

The Rusty Dragons will be there April 7-14, 2013 and are composed of many paddlers from Canada and the USA.  More on that team later!

Monday, 28 January 2013

MOF Chinese New Year Banquet

The Rusty Dragons will once again have a table of 10 at the annual Ministry of Finance Chinese New Year Banquet & Valentine's Dance. The event includes a 12-course Chinese banquet dinner, lion dance, on stage entertainment with singers and dancers, guest speakers, and many lucky draws for prizes. There will also be a Gangnam style dance competition for fun. 

The year of the Dragon is coming to a close, and soon it will be the Year of the Snake (lunar new year's day is actually Friday Feb.10). We will be handing out laisee (red lucky packets) for those born in the year of the snake.  Although Chinese New Year's day follows the lunar calendar and does not fall on January 1st, you must consult lunar calendars to see what your Chinese horoscope sign is (12-year cycle).  Generally, snakes were born years 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929, 1917, 1905,...

We have been coming to this banquet for several years at the invitation of event organizer Thomas Chong. Thomas is a big supporter of dragon boat racing, and we had met when I paddled occasionally with the Toronto Area Dragons whose coach at the time was Steve Kwok.  Steve was also my first coach on the OPS team he formed when I started racing in 2003.

I will be given the opportunity to provide a dragon boat update to the 500 in attendance on the Rusty Dragons, the PDBC Masters, and a special presentation to the OPS Diversity EANG Dragons. The EANG team will have a large presence at the event with 3 tables.  I will also be bringing my KayakPro dragon boat erg for a paddle demonstration and a VIP volunteer paddle and photo op! There will also be a dragon boat article and pictures in the event colour brochure.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

KRAKEN KREW Parents & Kids Team

I have been coaching a parents and kids dragon boat team since 2006 and this has been the most rewarding program of any that I have been involved with.  The idea of the team started after the Dec. 26, 2004 East Asian Tsunami. My daughter's school (Huron Street P.S.) had a former teacher whose parents founded and ran an orphanage in Sri Lanka called the Paynter Home. After the tsunami, there was an influx of orphaned children in the large area affected. The school raised money for the orphanage and as dragon boat racing is most often about raising money for charity I put two and two together and put together a team to raise additional money. We raised about $1500/year for a few years.  

I had already been doing dragon boat presentations to the school classes for years. This included kindergarten classes for which I was thankful to GWN for loaning me props such as dragon heads and tails, a drum, and their old 4' dragon boat model. At a snowy school assembly in November 2005 where I announced the team, I had a full roster of parents and kids sign up. That team is still going strong after 8 years, with a few original members still on the team.

Last year, the Kraken Krew team (named by a student contest) practiced once a week in May/June and competed at the 128th annual DDRA Canada Day Regatta on Toronto's Centre Island. They won "B" Division gold, beating out other all-adult teams. Our goal was to have good technique and timing, but have fun and patience on the water. That paid off with a boat length win!  In previous years, this team has placed as high as 3rd in the "A" Division.

Last year's team co-captains were Susie Pelenyi (an original team member) and my daughter Sarah (who paddled for the first time). My wife Yoka also paddled for the first time on this team. In all, I have had 9 different family members paddle on this team.  :)

The 2012 Kraken Krew team - "B" Division gold medalists

This coming season is now shaping up quickly, and we are in the process of booking our practice time slots with Balmy Beach (BBCC).

If anyone else is looking to create their own parents and kids teams, feel free to contact me regarding my experience and advice of making the program work. My e-mail address is I am looking to expand to run more similar teams in the future.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Rusty Dragons in the Bahamas!

The Bahamas were in our plans for April 2013 one way or the other. Initially, the Rusty Dragons had planned to take a full team (20 paddlers) to Albert MacDonald's week-long training camp in Freeport during the week of April 21-27. We were all looking forward to this, although it would have been disappointing to miss Jim Farintosh's "Pines Camp" for the first time in several years. When the Bahamas Camp was cancelled for this year due to planning issues that were out of Albert's control (on Bahamas side), we couldn't lose going back to our Pines Camp plans, but for Jim's Week #2 (April 14-21).

However, all along we had planned to offer a 4-day vacation extension to the camp via a stay at a friend's villa in Nassau. That will still happen (April 21-25) for an amazing special rate for the 4-days. At this time, there are likely only 2 spots left for the remaining room at the villa, on a first-come first-served basis. The Stargaze Villa is owned by "our" Rusty Dragons' Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) Keisha.  Some pictures of the villa are shown below.

Keisha has also supported the DDRA Canada Day Regatta by offering her RMT services at the 2012 event, and she will be doing so again at the 129th annual 2013 Canada Day event. We are also discussing plans to raise money for a charity with Keisha donating a major prize towards a draw for the contributing fundraisers. More details on this later, as well as the DDRA event itself, where I am one of the planning members.

Thank you Keisha for being a part of our dragon boat world!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

OPS Diversity EANG Dragons

This team is managed by the trio of Kit-Mei Chan, Zoe Lam, and Lele Chiu, and are coached by veteran coach St├ęphane Vertefeuille.  They are well on their way to putting together their 5th season for this team.

This team practices once a week at the Sunnyside Paddling Club (SPC) site on the western shoreline of Lake Ontario in Toronto.  They race at the annual DDRA Canada Day Regatta on Toronto's Centre Island, and have now started to expand their season to race at the Christie Lake Regatta in Hamilton in the fall.

The Rusty Dragons support the team since the beginning in small ways where needed.  I am very proud of this self-sufficient team, their leaders, and their accomplishments over the years.

The EANG team at the 2012 DDRA Canada Day Regatta
For information on this team, please contact:
  >, or 

Good luck to the team in 2013!!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

First Blog Entry of 2013

I have just recreated this BLOG account in order to start fresh and use this one account for all things related to dragon boat racing and life in general.

It's the start of the new year and I am looking forward to working with my valuable business partners and friends at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club (BBCC) and the Dominion Day Regatta Association (DDRA).  

This is a shout-out to the leaders at BBCC, including Gaynor Reader, Heather Smith, Russ Dunn (retired), Don May, Dave Moore, etc.


I also wanted to send a shout-out to the DDRA, including Gaynor Reader, Dave Moore, Judy Sutcliffe, Judy Tutty, Attila Nagy, Chris Hartmann, Joe Lyttle, Bo Fejes, Don May, Ken Butler, Kelly Brigley, Kerri Langois, and many others.


The 129th annual DDRA Canada Day Regatta is this summer at Toronto's Centre Island, and all dragon boat teams are welcome to register to race and try to win prestigious DDRA silver mugs and medals (per person)!  

I am also greatly looking forward to the PDBC Masters team I have re-joined since we last raced in Macau China in 2010.  We race at Canadian Championships in Victoria BC in August 2013, and then race at the IDBF World Club Crew Championships in Ravena Italy in August 2014.  More on all these things in my future blog entries.  

My own Rusty Dragons teams are starting to take shape, as well as the teams that I indirectly support.  I wish all paddlers, coaches, and team captains all the best this summer.  

Paddles up!