Durham’s Masonic Dragons Roar
4 Teams from the Province of Durham competed in the 3rd Tees Dragon Boat Festival which took place on Sunday 1st September 2019, raising money for the Durham 2021 Festival.
Each Dragon Boat can carries a maximum of 16 rowers plus one drummer and is steered by a helmsman provided by the event operators. The format of the event involves each team competing in 3 races, with the 4 fastest teams then competing in the final. This year 20 teams took part.
Our Teams were The Chester le Street Masonic Dragons 1 & 2, The Billingham & Castle Eden Freemasons Dragon Boat Squad and the Paddling Pedalers’, a team drawn largely from those who completed this year’s 3 Province Charity Cycle Ride.
After registration and the safety briefing the first of our boats to compete was Chester-le-Street Masonic Dragons 2 and they soon showed that they were a force to be reckoned with, posting what was then the quickest time of the first round, an amazing 1 min 4.45 seconds, to cover the 200m course in blustery conditions. In that first round their time was only beaten by a semi-professional dragon boat, The Purple Warriors, a team of HM Forces Veterans who compete regularly and use the sport as a means of inspiration, rehabilitation and recovery. They clocked an amazing 58 seconds in that first round.
We had had a few late withdrawals from the squads and there were some who were unable to stay for the full day but in true Masonic Spirit our teams supported each other, providing rowers and drummers where required.
The weather conditions continued to be squally but our rowers were undeterred. By the start of the final round, CLS 2 remained in 3rd place. Whilst they had improved their best to 1.03.14, Dave’s Dragons, had posted an incredible 55.9 seconds. Our Peddalers’ were lying in 4th with 1.05.91 and our remaining 2 teams were not far behind.
With the news that the semi-professional team would not compete in the final, our teams redoubled their efforts. Incredibly, 3 of our Teams, CLS 2, the Peddalers’ and Billingham & Castle Eden managed to hold off the competition and reach the Final. In fact we also had the 5th fastest time from CLS 1, who only missed out on a place in the final by 4 hundredths of a second.
As the 4 boats lined up on the start line the Masonic Teams knew that Dave’s Dragons were the team to beat. There was also however some healthy rivalry between our squads as they all competed for the top spot. In what proved an amazingly close race (apart from Dave’s Dragons who, as expected, left the other 3 teams in their wake) it was the Peddalers’ who managed to steal second place with their fastest time of the day, 1 min 2 seconds, beating Billingham & Castle Eden by a very short nose and with CLS 2 very close behind.
After cheering their competitors and receiving their trophies from the Mayor of Stockton there was just time for our teams to cheer all of the supporters who had turned up, particularly those from Billingham who had manned a TLC Teddies stall throughout the day.
Freemasonry in the community at its most enjoyable – well done to all involved.
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