Who we are

Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club (RRDBC) is a vibrant community sports club which is proud of its origins and ongoing strong bond with its founding group, Rainbow Dragons Abreast (RDA), which continues as a sub-group within the club.

Prior to the formation of RRDBC, RDA was regularly fielding enquiries from the public due to a growing worldwide interest in dragon boating.  In response, RRDBC was established in 2009. Our members are drawn from the far north coast of NSW, including the Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay and Kyogle shires. This area is known as the Rainbow Region, hence our name. “Come and Try” days saw a huge influx of members to the newly formed sports club, reaching 76 financial members by September 2010.

In 2011, we purchased our first ‘Champion’ boat, and have since added to our fleet several times (including a ten-seater dragon boat), marked by boat blessing ceremonies, according to Chinese custom.

The club has always welcomed men and women of any age, fitness level and sporting ability to experience the social, fun, and physical challenges of dragon boating.  RRDBC (recognisable by their teal uniform) has maintained its founding club’s ethos of inclusion and respect, as well as its pioneering drive to make all club members the best paddlers they can be.

Since 2009, RRDBC has had between 60-100+ members which makes us one of the larger clubs in NSW. Consequently, it can meet the social and competitive needs of its members in a sustainable manner. We have hosted workshops led by various experts (coaches, exercise physiologists, sweeps, inclusion specialists, injury researchers, etc), such as world-renowned Canadian coach and Olympian, Kamini Jain (2012, 2017 & 2023), who has strongly influenced our paddling style.

As a club, we have fielded teams in regional, national and international regattas.  We’ve brought home many medals and trophies from events across Australia (including the Pan Pacific and Australian Masters Games, and Australian Dragon Boat National Championships) and New Zealand.  RRDBC qualified for the World Club Crew Championships, scheduled to be held in France in 2020, which were sadly cancelled due to the Covid epidemic.  

Those paddlers looking for a greater dragon boating challenge have had opportunities to try out for representative teams at Regional, State and National levels. Many RRDBC members have taken on this challenge, which involves long road trips together for squad training, in various northern region towns.  Most of them have come home with medals and a greater depth of competitive experience.

In 2013, the RRDBC held its inaugural regatta at Shaws Bay, East Ballina. It was a huge community and club success with both sports and community teams participating. The annual Rainbow Region Regatta has since become a significant regional sporting event with a growing reputation in the dragon boating scene for high calibre competition, sportsmanship, and socialising.

Like all longstanding community sports clubs, RRDBC has been reliant on its members’ off-water efforts as well as their on-water efforts, to remain strong.  Rainbows (RRDBC & RDA) are a multi-talented group of people with a diverse skillset, that supports the administrative functioning of the club, organising events, the provision of a quality coaching program, equipment maintenance, fundraising… the list goes on.

We have fostered a strong community presence, with activities such as the regular letterbox delivery of the Ballina Council newsletter (which also generates an income for our club), involvement in the Lismore Lantern Parade, fundraising for local causes and organisations, etc. Our club has also produced some excellent coaches, highly experience sweeps (steerers) and qualified race officials.  

Among the community events at which our club has made its presence known, is the annual ‘Mullum2Bruns’ multi-paddle event. Originally one of only two dragon boats taking part (along with a multitude of SUPs, kayaks, surf skis, rafts, canoes, etc), we applied our usual sense of fun and dressed up as ‘Priscilla Queen of the River’.  Ten years later sees a dozen dragon boats, all vying for the ‘best-dressed’ award!

The club’s original base was the Sport & Rec Centre at Lake Ainsworth (Lennox Head), which has always welcomed and encouraged RDA, and offered us the use of their boat shed (which had to be modified to accommodate our boat).  A second makeshift boatshed was built at the Lake in 2012 as the club and its equipment grew.

Ad hoc ‘river paddles’ in Ballina became more regular, until in 2019, arrangements were made for one of our boats to be stored at the outrigger compound at Cawarra Park on North Creek in Ballina, enabling us to paddle longer distances and experience more varied conditions.  

While paddling up and down the canal, we had observed the seemingly ideal location of the Naval Cadets compound, which seemed to be seldom used.

In early 2021, we applied to Council for community use of the compound and are now lucky to share these facilities (which includes a large boatshed, boat ramp and pontoon, meeting room, storage space, amenities, etc) with the Naval Cadets, who only use the place on Saturdays (so we have access Sunday to Friday).

In 2023, RRDBC absorbed the equipment from a small outrigger club that was disbanding, enabling us to expand our paddling offerings and supplement dragon boat paddling with OC paddling.

RRDBC now has bases at Lake Ainsworth, Cawarra Park and Endeavour Close (the Naval Cadets facility), as well as using the boat trailer to launch at various other spots, locally and further afield.

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