The Cambridgeshire Royals Youth Team fought off strong competition from charity and professional teams in their first competitive race event as a team.
The team of 12 youngsters from ages 10 - 15 competed as 'The Royal Family' on Sunday 28 June in the London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, along with 43 other teams.
As members of the British Dragon Boat Association (BDA), the youngsters were competing in the professional section of the festival with ten other teams, but this didn't deter them and they dug deep and proved to everyone, and themselves, that they could do it.
Accompanied in each race by four parent paddlers, the team gave an impressive start to the day by winning their first heat race in a time to rival, and beat, some of the other teams, including some of the professional teams.
The youngsters who are mainly from the St Neots and Godmanchester areas, and are sponsored by the St Neots restaurant; Frankie and Benny's, train with the Cambridgeshire Royals Dragon Boat Club, based in Eynesbury, St Neots, twice a month.
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Here is what some of them said about the day and their experience.
Sadie Swallow aged 10 (from St Neots) said: "Today was my first ever race and I was really nervous, but all of the Cambridgeshire Royal family calmed me down and said I would be fine, and I was, and we won our first race".
Lauren, 13 and Rosie Elmore, 10 (from Godmanchester) added: "It was great being part of a team. The whole atmosphere of the day was amazing. A real buzz competing".
And finally, Abbey Foster, (from St Neots), 13, said: I thought it was a great experience and we did extremely well considering we were also against professionals. We should all be proud of ourselves!
The youngsters, despite finishing 11th in the Professional Competition, finished the day with a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd in their heats, a fantastic achievement for such a young team of paddlers, some of whom have only been with the club a few weeks.
Club Chairman Brian Samuel, who also helmed for the youngsters throughout the day, said: "I loved today, it was one of them days which makes you proud to be part of the Cambridgeshire Royals. I am truly impressed with the way our youths paddled at the Festival. To win our first race against three adult teams was impressive, and to achieve times that were faster than some of the professional teams was totally astounding".
"To be on the back of the boat watching the effort that the children were giving was amazing, and the looks on the kids’ faces when they won was priceless!"
If you have a youngster, aged 10 or above, that would like to have a go at Dragon Boating and experience the thrill that our youth team had today, then contact us for more information on:
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 07736 311031, or bring them along to our next Youth Training Session on 12 July 2015, 11am at The Coneygear Park, Eynesbury, St Neots.
Member since: 10th July 2012
Lived in St Neots since 1975 and boy how its changed, always looking to promote everything great in and around our town.