Central Coast SurviveOars is sending a team of 21 dragon boat paddlers to the International Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Commission (IBCDBC) Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Karapiro, Cambridge, New Zealand April 10-16.
The SurviveOars team includes breast cancer survivors from Central Coast SurviveOars (Morro Bay), along with paddlers from Newport Aquatic Center (Newport Beach), Team Survivor (San Diego) and Dragon Maxx (Berkeley).
The IBCDBC Festival is a sporting event and a celebration of cancer survivorship. More than 4,000 people are expected, survivors and supporters, with race participants ranging in age from 20 to 80, from 30 countries across all continents.
The dragon boat racing community has welcomed cancer survivors since 1998, when Dr. Don McKenzie’s groundbreaking study of breast cancer survivors showed the healing benefits of participation on a dragon boat team.
“It’s overwhelming to see and meet the multitude of women from all over the world who have survived breast cancer,” said Rose Marie Battaglia, team captain. “When we all get together on the water, it becomes something much bigger than the races.”
Battaglia noted that the festival celebrates and empowers survivors, but also honors the memory of those whose lives were taken by cancer. The SurviveOars ‘New Zealand’ composite team gathered to practice together in Morro Bay in 2022, and again at Santa Fe Dam in February of 2023. United States Dragon Boat Federation (USDBF) Team USA coaches Pat Bradley and Nathan Salazar helped the team prepare.
Central Coast SurviveOars was founded in 2007 and is the main team of the nonprofit organization Central Coast Dragon Boat Association. The team of 128 survivors and supporters, both men and women, practices in Morro Bay.