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Vienna Pink Dragons at Lake Karapiro

Summary of the participation of the Vienna Pink Dragons International team at Lake Karapiro, New Zealand 2023

Submitted by Svenja Franke-Bruhn

Just over a month ago, the IBCPC Festival in New Zealand came to an end.

It was an honor and pure pleasure for Helen as Team Manager and me (Svenja) as Team Captain to accompany the Vienna Pink Dragons International Team to this international festival for the second time.

Many of the participants took advantage of the long journey to travel to New Zealand and other countries. In my case, after the festival I was incredibly happy to meet with former pink paddling sisters in Sydney. The place where it all started for me after moving from Wellington, New Zealand in 2012 and I realized that after moving to Vienna in 2014 that Austria too needed a pink paddling team also.

It is now a tradition to appear in races abroad such as Vienna Pink Dragons International, if we do not have the opportunity to fill the boat from our own ranks. That is how it was in Florence in 2018 and that is how good the cohesion was this year with a lot of joy, enthusiasm, humor, and commitment of the paddlers from ten nations.

Many were happy about the reunion, they got to know new, dear faces and enjoyed the support of the accompanying partners and friends. We were also one of the few teams that were allowed to wave a large number of flags at the opening and closing ceremonies: and of course on our shirts we were also represented according to our origin or 2 nationalities.

We would like to say a big thank you to all the organisers of this festival in New Zealand.

So much had to be considered and judged or enriched with alternative ideas due to the adverse weather conditions: from registration to transport from different cities; the training days; the Congress and the Team Manager/Steers meeting; a welcome evening with moving speeches and dances; a colourful opening parade through the picturesque small town of Cambridge, also followed by a ceremony incorporating New Zealand traditions.

Then followed the actual race days in a unique setting directly on Lake Karapiro.

While on the first day we were able to race the 500 m on the water twice with some hiccups due to stronger and stronger winds, the next day it was only one more time for the supporters as well as for us in the 200m race. Unfortunately, the strong gusts of wind did not allow more racing and so the moving closing ceremony took place on land.

We were particularly pleased with the visit of Cathy from Auckland and the reunion with Lynn, Denise, and Catherine, who were all part of our first international team in Florence.

The next festival will take place in 2026. We are curious as to where.

Previous venues of the international festivals were Vancouver (birthplace of the pink paddling movement thanks to the initiative of Dr Don McKenzie) in 2005, Australia (Caloundra) in 2007, then came the IBCPC festivals, first in Canada (Peterborough) in 2010, USA (Sarasota) in 2014, Italy (Florence) in 2018 and now in 2023 at Lake Karapiro in New Zealand.

Each festival offers the opportunity to network, get to know each other, paddle, and simply celebrate life.

We say thank you and we will let some pictures do the talking. There are sure to be more to come. This is just a small selection to give a first impression. Also, I could not appreciate each one of them or introduce them by name.

In any case, as a composite team we were top!

Please check out some photos on Facebook on the Vienna Pink Dragons Page.