Submitted by Paula Farias
In December 2022 the Chilean Canoeing Federation organized the second Nautical Festival in Villarrica, a city in the south of Chile located at the foot of the Villarrica volcano and with a huge lake. This national Festival counted with the participation of different nautical modalities, among them us, the BCS category with three Dragon Boats for 12 people each.
As soon as we received the call for this Festival, the teams began to work intensely to be able to participate, and 6 of the 11 Chilean teams were able to attend: Fortale-Senos Chile, Fortalesenos Araucanía, Remo Arriba V region, Claro de Vida-Talca, Valientes Señoraza-Laja and Perlas de Valdivia.
For the teams Claro de Vida-Talca, Valientes Señoraza-Laja and Perlas de Valdivia it was the first time they had participated in a Festival, the first time as a team they had traveled and the first time they had seen a Dragon Boat.
We were 59 paddlers who painted the Villarrica Lake pink, before the competition day, the Fortale-Senos Chile team offered a Dragon Boat clinic, sharing the knowledge already acquired with the new members of the teams, so that the next day they all competed empowered, safe and without risks. The results were incredible, 5 teams of Dragon Boats sailed on Lake Villarrica, some boats with full equipment and others with the addition of the newcomers that were arriving.
At the end of the festival, each team that still does not have the boat, was given 5 paddles so they can rehabilitate properly, these were donated by the Dragons Abreast Canberra team from Australia through Susan Roraff who is now part of the Chilean paddlers.
This great experience gave us the opportunity to get to know each other, to unite as a team, and that emotions such as joy, friendship and enthusiasm took over our hearts and that once we could demonstrate that living with breast cancer also brings a wonderful transformation, that brings out the best in each one of us, that offers us new experiences and gives us a unique opportunity, which is to enjoy every day of our lives.
The life lessons, the life experiences shared strengthened the new teams that had never before experienced the magical sensation of sailing in a real Dragon Boat, many shed tears of joy for that indescribable feeling of power and healing, corroborating that this sport heals physically and emotionally.
As always and every day we paddle for life, giving a full-throated song of joy for life.