Fort Langley womenâ€™s dragon boat crew members took on the world earlier this month in Ravenna, Italy.
From Sept. 3-7, Fast & Furious, Abreast With FORT-itude, and Titanium (a crew consisting of paddlers in the 60-plus age group) competed in Ravenna during the ninth annual World Dragon Boat Championships.
This yearâ€™s races hosted 27 countries with more than 5,400 participants, and boasted the largest CCWC event ever put on.
â€œThe opening ceremonies presented all the clubs in a grand outdoor procession never seen at these races before,â€ reported Fast & Furious crew member Ann Mohs.
As the worldâ€™s clubsâ€™ representatives marched out in grand style before thousands of cheering spectators, a flotilla of dragon boats representing each country and carrying their countryâ€™s flag joined the celebration on the water.
Over the five days, 93 classes of paddlers competed in 1,200 races at this well-organized bi-annual world event.
Canada rocked the podium overall, and the Fort Langley Canoe Clubâ€™s team Abreast In A Boat â€“ FORT-itude came home with bronze medals after strong showings in the 2,000 metre and 500 metre races.
There were nine breast cancer teams and the competition was very intense.
â€œRaces were being won by split seconds and FORT-itudeâ€™s excellent training and conditioning over the past two years paid off, indeed proving that breast cancer surgery need not relegate one to a life of upper body inactivity, as previously thought,â€ noted FORT-itude crew member Carol Short.
The 25 FORT-itude members are: coach Juanita Peglar, manager Gail Bonner, Linda Loo, Arleigh Bennington, Bev Dagg, Sally van Ingen, Maria Hindmarch, Tracey Capadouca, Carol Short, Tammy Watkins, Karen Salloch, Leila Ouimet, Neoma Ham, Cindy Reimer, Cheryl Watson, Tannis Hutfelter, Carol Curtis, Heather Innes, Debbie Kazakoff, Gerri Inaba, Lisa Webb, Lisa Tildsley, Ann Lysaght, Kulbinder Sidhu, and Margaret Hineman.
Age just a number for FnF
Fast & Furious, classified as a 49-plus team but with an average age of 62, paddled fiercely against teams 10 to 12 years younger.
They fought furiously for their placement in the championship finals and succeeded in securing a place in the grand finals in all of their races.
In both the 200 metre sprint and the 500 metre test of grit, Fast & Furious finished among world champions, sixth and eighth best in the world.
During the 2,000 metre guts and glory challenge, Fast & Furious drew the No. 1 starting boat and led the way out of the starting gate, with boats following at 15 second intervals, holding off all competitors from passing, and finishing with a ninth best time in their division.
Ben Lee who has coached this Fast & Furious team for more than three years, had this to say: â€œDespite all that was against us in terms of training programs and age, FnF was not out of the pack and even without a decent start or finish all week, managed to be a few seconds out of medal contention. Not bad for a team that has many sick with a cold and sporting their share of injuries and lost paddlers.â€
At the end of the competitions, Fast & Furious team captain Sandy Ferguson said, â€œWe may not have won a medal but I can assure you that the team gave it everything they had. The best teams in the world were here and we have a lot to be proud of. We definitely put Fort Langley on the world map.â€