Click the tabs to see the Adult Women's teams under Aoraki's umbrella. See also Open (mixed), 'business' based teams and School teams.

Abreast of Life

Who are we???

Abreast of Life Sports Club Inc was formed in November 1999, principally set up as a breast cancer survivor (BCS) dragon boat team.

BCS dragon boating was the brainchild of Dr Don McKenzie, a professor of Sports Medicine at the University of Vancouver and also the medic for canoeing on the International Olympic Committee. Dr Don (as he is affectionately known) believed that breast cancer survivors who were post-operative would benefit hugely from upper body exercise, and that this exercise would have no adverse impact on lymphedema and may in fact decrease the possibility of developing lymphedema. His theory flew in the face of conventional medical thinking. The first team of brave “guinea pigs” were on the water in 1995. Wow what a ride that has been; there are now 143 teams around the world in 12 countries. It is the only breast cancer survivor sport to be internationally represented.

Abreast of Life has been paddling since 1999 and has had a number of successes having been national champions on several occasions and current South Island champions. We have also paddled in Canada to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of breast cancer survivor dragon boating. Many of us have travelled to paddle in international BC regattas, enjoying fabulous camaraderie and sister ship. We come from all walks of life, we're all different shapes and sizes and our paddlers have ranged in age from late 20s through to early 80s, age and ability is no barrier. We do not dish out sympathy but we are big on empathy and having loads of fun. We have, over the last 14 years, lost 20 paddlers to this invidious disease and we consider those women the angels in our boat.

Following the Christchurch earthquakes we were faced with the loss of a number of paddlers, through the loss of their homes, some leaving the region, a shift in training venue from the Avon to Lake Pegasus in North Canterbury. We found ourselves in the unenviable position of not having enough team members. We made a tough decision to enter the women’s grade as we knew that if we didn’t compete our club would fold. We recruited non-BC women paddlers and put in the hard yards training and competing in a much tougher division. We did this for two seasons and enjoyed some great successes, taking home medals on several occasions. In the 2014-15 season we backed ourselves to go on a massive recruitment drive and pull out all the stops to have two teams: one BC and one non BC. Our non BC paddlers are combining really well as a team and are a tremendous support to the BC team, especially on training nights when both teams paddle hard out and there are no holds barred in getting across that finish line first.

It is our wish - and that of our non BC team -to raise general awareness about breast cancer, act as a reminder to have regular breast examinations and mammograms, and serve as an inspiration to all women that we can do anything, and that illness or age need not be a deterrent to having a go and, most importantly, having fun, which we most surely do!

Both teams have been competing in many events this season and are taking home winners prizes from all of these. We intend to take both teams to the South Island Championships in Ashburton and also to the National championships in Auckland. Taking two teams of 26 paddlers each plus coaches and mangers (56 in total) to these events along with all of our entry fees means we are facing a huge fundraising task needing approx $35,000.

We have applied for funding to help with our costs but to date have not had any success. We have numerous fundraising activities in the pipeline and an advertising feature in The Press is part of that effort. 

We sincerely ask that you consider sponsoring a team member. Should you have any questions feel free to contact one of the following:

Jillian Broadbent - 027 242 4712,
Janice Melville - 027 486 4286,
Meri Gibson - 027 227 3979

See the team's NEW website at

New website

ABOL Amazon Hearts

Amazon Hearts are the Womens Dragon Boat team, that sits under the umbrella of Abreast of Life Sports Club. They are the sister team to "Abreast of Life", ABOL's breast cancer survivor (BCS) dragon boat team.

Abreast of Life Club has been running since 1999. Following the earthquakes the BCS team lost a number of paddlers, and found themselves with too few BCS members, so they entered the women’s grade as a matter of survival. They recruited non-BC women and after two seasons in Womens Division, and went on a massive recruitment drive, resulting in a second team, of non BC paddlers,

On trainings both teams paddle together. Amazons train on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7 pm at Lake Rua, and on Thursdays training is from Owles Terrace New Brighton, again from 6 to 7 pm. On Saturdays we also have a fun session on the Avon (Owles Terrace) from 9 am to 10 am, followed by coffees in New Brighton with our ABOL sisters.


Amazon Hearts

See the team's NEW website at

Avon Dragons

This team burst onto the scenes in August 2016, first apperaing in the Polar Blast.

They are principally set up as a team for graduates of three of the stronger Christchurch girls high-schools.

"The new U23 Women's team will comprise ex-students from Avonside, Marian and CGHS will also put in their first appearance. Most likely to be called "AVON DRAGONS" although this is subject to change as we get closer to the start of the season proper".

Any questions? Feel free to contact Evan Roper.


At Otautahi Paddling Club - "OPC" for short - we aim to create a friendly, safe and welcoming environment where woman are empowered by encouragement, friendship and teamwork to push themselves physically and mentally for others, and to reach their personal goals.

Otautahi Paddling ClubClub, Team, Individual, as one.

At our best, on and off the water.


This season's coaches are Michelle Hamilton and Robyn Taylor, alongside Club President Quincy Hamilton.

They, and the rest of the team, warmly welcome new paddlers to come along and try out dragon boating.

For further info contact Julie Freeman 027 229 0855

Simply the Breast

Blenheim based club, of Breast Cancer Survivors and supporters.

Simply the Breast Marlborough dragon boat co-chair Susie Williams recently talked to "The Marlborough Express" about her experiences on the team and the bonds she has formed.

Tell me a bit about what the Simply the Breast dragon boat team is all about.
We aim to have fun, get fit, support our breast cancer ladies, raise awareness of breast cancer, race during the summer months as both breast cancer and open women's teams, and enjoy life on the water while we do it. Don McKenzie, a Canadian sports medicine specialist, started a dragon boat team in February 1996 for women with a history of breast cancer. He believed that this activity would benefit breast cancer survivors as it provided strenuous upper body activity in an aesthetically pleasing and socially supportive environment. He stated: 'It is an approach to promoting health and raising breast cancer awareness that is driven by women with the disease. It reaches out to other women and offers them a message of hope and support. It is helping to change attitudes toward life after breast cancer, and it encourages women to lead full and active lives. It is making a difference.

What's the best part about being in the team?
We are an extended family. As a breast cancer survivor the support from those around you, who may or may not have had, breast cancer is amazing. It's a support group on water. There is a lot of respect for those of us that have had breast cancer. Having had cancer takes away your confidence, your pride, your strength and how you see yourself as a woman. Surrounding yourself with people that understand, and show an amazing amount of support as well as strength from getting out and doing something like this physical sport is very reassuring, refreshing and fun. It helps reminds you that there really is life after breast cancer.

Have you faced any struggles in the team?
All teams struggle at times. We are in the process of recruiting breast cancer survivors and other women who would like to join our boat, we need more paddlers. Like all sports, numbers fluctuate over time. With this sport, we have the added pressure by being predominantly a breast cancer team. Some people get back on their feet after surviving the disease, and then feel they don't need to be part of the sport, or even be around others that have suffered - everyone copes differently. We are also mostly mums and grandmas, time becomes a little busy and hard to fit everything in.

How difficult is dragon boating physically?
Tough but fun. Anyone can do it with some practice. It really builds your strength, but we are all individuals, some people can physically pull more water than others - and that's OK. That's what working as a team is, right?

What is a phrase you live by? Make the most of life. I've dodged one bullet, best I make the most of it.

Susie Williams 027 776 6388
Glenda Simpson 027 257 8224

Waimak Dragon Boat Club

In January 2010 Rick Smith was looking for half a dozen paddlers to fill the corporate team he was managing at the time. He placed an ad for paddlers in a local North Canterbury paper and got more than 70 replies! What to do??? Start another team of course! And so Waimak Attack began. Marie Childs formed an ad hoc committee and in three weeks we had a team name, uniforms organised and we were competing in our first regatta. We did the South Island Champs and the Nationals in 2010, and have never looked back.

From these small beginnings Waimak Dragon Boat Club has grown to the biggest in the South Island. We now have an open team and a women’s team and more than 50 paddlers on our books. The club is very well managed through the committee. We do a small amount of fund raising to keep our fees as low as possible and we have used the grants process to fund our trips to the North Island for the Nationals. Our teams train on Wednesday nights at Lake Pegasus and on Sunday mornings in the lead up to the big regattas in February and March.

Waimak Attack is the mixed team, competing in the open grade with a great spirit in the team and a real determination to support each other and to be the best we can. See more ...

Waimak Thunder

Waimak Thunder was the first women's team in the South Island and they too have been very successful. In 2012/13 the girls took out 3 gold medals at the South Island champs and a bronze at the nationals. Women's teams are the fastest growing division in the sport at the moment. Dragon boating is great for women wanting to get into a sport that is social, easy to learn and develops fitness.

Waimak club is very inclusive. We have paddlers of all shapes and sizes and levels of fitness ranging from 16 to 76 years old.

If you want to join us or find out more about Waimak Thunder contact:

Waimak Dragon Boat Club at Lake Hood