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Dragons Abreast Tasmania Hobart

Written and submitted by Sonja Preston, member of DATH

Fun, Fitness and Friendship in Tasmania, Australia

Dragons Abreast Tasmania Hobart (DATH) was the first dragon boating club in Tasmania. Now there are seven clubs.  Tasmania is a small island with a big heart, 455km off the south east coast of Australia.

We’ve come a long way in the past 21 years from when a small group of breast cancer survivors decided to start a club. For the first 12 months (while waiting to get a boat) they practised learning to paddle by sitting in rows of chairs and using an upside-down broom to learn the technique! Nowadays we are a club of 40 breast cancer survivors who prefer the term ‘breast cancer thrivers’.  We offer four paddling sessions a week, and have a club motto of ‘Fun, Fitness and Friendship’ which underpins all that we do.

So, when it was announced that our Tasmanian-born Danish Princess Mary’s husband was to become King Frederick IX of Denmark, making Mary the Queen (and with one Danish club member), we knew that it was an irresistible opportunity to fulfill the FUN part of our club motto!

Our pink paddling uniform was temporarily swapped for red and white clothing, capes, tiaras and Danish flags. Champagne was added to really celebrate the occasion (but not before paddling of course).

Our fun event escalated quickly.  Firstly, the local newspaper sent a photographer and reporter to us, and from then on, we were famous! After that small article and photo was published, we were approached by a Sydney TV station and a crew arrived to do a live cross for their morning show. This was followed by an appearance on the national news, and even interviews with Danish TV and radio. We later heard that our live cross video footage was shown on American TV as far away as Alaska!

Whilst all of this was FUN for us, it was also a wonderful opportunity to promote the benefits of dragon boating to breast cancer survivors of all ages. Breast cancer knows no boundaries, nor does dragon boating. Although we are all vulnerable, we also have opportunities for fun, fitness and friendships.  It has a ripple effect around the world.

Our little Tasmanian club members are now global ‘media stars’, and we look forward to also shining brightly in 2026 with IBCPC in France!