Hemel Hempstead paddlers firing on all cylinders for GB Dragon Boat

Team GB's Grand Dragons racing at the EU Dragon Boat Championships in Racice
Team GB's Grand Dragons racing at the EU Dragon Boat Championships in Racice

A trio of Hemel Canoe Club members were part of the GB Dragon Boat teams who won medals for their country at the EU Dragon Boat Championships in Racice in the Czech Republic.

Experienced paddlers Ruth Gungadoo, Sue Prowse and Robin Oakley were on top form at the prestigious meet, and Robin said: “We did fantastically well, despite our age!”

Dragon boats are 40 feet long and have 20 paddlers plus a helm and a drummer. The races are 200, 500, and 2,000 metres, with the boats often reaching up to 17kph.

Ruth and Sue competed in the senior ladies’ event and won three silvers, while Robin – in the Grand Dragons (over 50s) – won a silver in the 2,000m and a bronze in the 200m.

“There was very hot competition and these are comparatively short sprints where one bad stroke can lose a race,” said Sue, a council officer.

“All the medals won by individuals are shared with the people who support them in their goals,” added Ruth, who is a freelance sports coach.

The paddlers are self-funded and follow a rigorous training and exercise regime year-round, to be in peak fitness for the championships.

Sue’s son James Prowse won the Canadian double canoe class in the 125-mile Devises to Westminster ultra canoe marathon back in April in a gruelling 19 non-stop hours.

Ruth is chairman of Hemel Hempstead Canoe Club, and the club’s next project is the Great River Race down the Thames at the end of September.

Please visit www.hhcanoeclub.com for more information on the club.