WHAT a glorious day it was at Lake Endeavour on Sunday as the Parkes Dragon Boat Club (PDBC) celebrated its three year anniversary with a regatta that was superbly attended by paddlers from Dubbo, Wagga, Orange and Forbes.
Parkes Shire Mayor, Ken Keith OAM, and Member for Orange Phil Donato were also present while representatives PaddleNSW were on hand to ensure the regatta was run in accordance with race requirements.
The Parkes crew won medals in all four categories, despite having smaller crews in the 2km (mixed and women) - with 16 paddlers going up against crews of 18 and 20 and securing bronze in both categories.
In the open division Parkes matched the other club's crew sizes and that led to the best result, with the club taking out the gold.
PDBC coach Beth Thomas was absolutely stoked with the effort of her paddlers.
"I'm super proud of the efforts of each and every paddler, sweep and drummer; everyone put in everything they had and their swag of medals is testimony to that," she said on Sunday evening.
You couldn't wipe the smile off the face of PDBC president Tony Gatt after the celebrations, who hailed the weather, support and inclusive nature of the club.
"The weather was just unreal and the day couldn't have gone any better," he said.
"People in the club went to sleep at 4am and were up by 6am to make sure today went well which was just a huge effort.
"You get a lot of different people who wouldn't know each other otherwise and that's the beauty of dragon boating - different ages, sizes and experience and it has made for a great culture here," Gatt said.
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It wasn't just about the celebrations or culture of the club that stood out for Gatt either, it was the tenacious desire to continually improve that impressed him.
"You saw their competitiveness today, there was team spirit, and camaraderie and a real drive to achieve what they are training for.
"When you have senior stewards from PaddleNSW saying they are impressed with the way it was prepared, executed and delivered, it is a really exciting time for the club.
"All the races were incredible, thank goodness there were state and national stewards there because the racing was that close!
"Towards the end of last year we were really focusing on getting things done on the water - the training for the regatta we held (which was originally scheduled to take place on the Northern Beaches) was intense but the roll on was incredible and the whole club is improving," said Gatt.
Gatt saved his final praise for the valuable support of both Mr Donato, and the Parkes Shire Council.
"As a club we are starting to mature and evolve, and we have had a lot of support over the past three years from Parkes Shire Council and Phil Donato."
Here's to many more successful years of the Parkes Dragon Boat Club - you do Parkes so proud!
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