Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday, 6 September 2021

Congratulations Forza Dragon Boat Club - 30 years and still paddling strong!

 Hi everyone, a different post than what I thought I would bring to you today, but I believe it is worth sharing. 

On Saturday night we went to the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Forza Dragon Boat Club. 

Forza Dragon Boat Club Inc (originally Forza Italia Dragon Boat Club) has been an important part of the Bunbury and Western Australian state dragon boat scene since the club was formed in 1991. The club’s 30 year history has shown distinction at local, national and international levels, taking out the coveted Western Australian Grand Prix Trophy in the 1996/97 and the 1998/99 seasons.  (The Italia was dropped from the name in 2003, voted in at an AGM, and in-line with current trends in sporting clubs, and in an effort to recruit more people into the club)

Here is a very early photo of the club - predominantly made up of people from the Italian community and created, managed and coached by Grant Barbera. 

Here is a pic from 1995 after winning a 1000 metre race. That is me in the front row first female on the left. I was much younger, thinner and fitter then! 

But  my family's history with dragon boating started much earlier than this. I paddled in the very first regatta in our city in March 1990 with a corporate team - The SCM Chemicals Dragonbusters. I was working at SCM Chemicals at the time and we put together a team, and trained for a few weeks before the regatta. We came second the to Lord Forrest Hotel in the Inter-Corporate Challenge. 

My goodness what an exciting day it was. I skipped the afternoon of a study course I was doing to compete. The Dragonbusters went on to to be very successful in the Corporate Division over the coming years, and my husband and eldest son followed me into the sport. The Dragonbusters folded at the beginning of the 1994-95 season, and that was when I joined Forza, with my husband and son following me again

Over the time our family has dragon boated, we have paddled on a State and National level, as well as competing internationally in Macau, Hong Kong, Penang and Singapore. I never imagined when I started paddling in 1990 where it would take us. I have never been into ball sports, but I found dragon boating was a perfect fit for me. 

Here I am with the combined Spirt of Bunbury International team before leaving for Hong Kong in 1993... far left second row. 

And with Forza in 1996 just before their Singapore trip after the men's crew won the right to attend the Singapore Invitational Dragon Boat regatta on Sentosa Island. And below that a photo of me with my husband and son at the Singapore regatta. My son was 17 at the time and swept (steered) the boat. 

Without a doubt these were exciting, heady days. The competition was fast and furious and the Bunbury Aqua-Spectacular Dragon Boat Festival had grown to a two day event with three local premier division club competing in mens, womens, mixed, veterans and junior classes (Forza, Spirit of Bunbury and the Bunbury Rowing Club), at least 5 local corporate teams, and a host of novice, ultra novice and high school teams racing against clubs from Perth and on two occasions a team from Asia. 

In 1998, my eldest son Paul, who started his dragon boat career in 1991 as a drummer, going on to become the team sweep, became a coach, and our youngest son Mark started paddling - as of today Mark is the only person in our state association who has Down Syndrome. The support Forza have given him has been absolutely amazing, and I thank them. It is an incredible thing for us that he can compete equally in a mainstream sport, and with his family in one boat. 

Paul - the guy on the back with the big sweep oar keeping the boat straight and yelling at the crew. 

 In 2005, with the help of a few others from our club, we launched Crewsaders Dragons Abreast for breast cancer survivors and their supporters. Part of a global movement for recovery and exercise and support for breast cancer supporters. 

And in 2009, our family was rewarded for our long term commitment to the sport, our club and the Association, when Forza's new Champion Class boat was named The Harrison after us. Below is a pic of us at the boat launch. That's our daughter-in-law in the middle, who had by then joined us. 

Dragon boating is truly a family sport - where all the members of the family, both male and female, young and old, can compete together in the one boat. It has been a great sport for our family over the years. 

But this post wasn't supposed to be about me and my family. 
Over the years hundreds of people have come through the ranks of Forza and dragon boating in Bunbury. Today there is only one club left in Bunbury, Forza, along with their partner crew, Crewsaders Dragons Abreast. Over that time there has been major upsets in the sport when both the State and National bodies were put into disarray and new associations formed. 

Numbers of club members have also waned, and it has been difficult to recruit young paddlers when there is so much on offer throughout our community. But throughout their 30 years Forza have remained true to their integrity and family values and their motto - Community Strength through Paddling.
Along with Fun, Fitness and Friendship.

My husband and I stopped dragon boating about 10 years ago but it still continues to be a part of our life with our two sons still competing, and our eldest still coaching. 

In 2020-21 season Forza won 6 medals at the WA State Dragon Boat titles. A very good result for a small club of mostly over 40 years olds! 

Congratulations Forza on your 30 years. May it continue for another 30. 

I am a life member of the Forza Dragon Boat Club. Here is a pic of me and the other two life members, Mark Kusin and Grant Barbera cutting the anniversary cake on Saturday night. 

What is the history behind dragon boating? It began in China as an occasion to drive off evil spirits and pestilence, to find peace and to supplicate the God of Water to precent diseaster and bring good fortune. The festival was later enriched by the legend of the poet Qu Yuan in 296BC during the Chou dynasty. 

Want to read more: You might like:

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

Hello there! I love reading your comments. If you scroll down to the bottom you can comment too! I would love to hear from you.


  1. Bravo and Best Wishes.


  2. There are Dragon boat groups here in Oregon as well. Some are women who have survived breast cancer.

    1. yes there are lots of teams in the US. The Dragons Abreast movement is such a great organisation for women who have survived breast cancer and their supporters.

  3. What beautiful photos. I just finished reading the Boys in the Boat for the second time. Thanks for sharing all of this information. It is intriguing!

    1. I hadn't heard of this book, so I looked it up. It looks like an interesting read. I will see if our library can access it. Thanks!

  4. Jill - how wonderful to learn something new about you! I believe any team sport yields incredible benefits, but you already knew that. Congratulations to you and your family for all of your achievements in dragon boating! Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday! Glad to have you back.

  5. To have a life long committment to one sport is truly amazing. It must be one of the few sports where different generations of one family can compete together. Really enjoyed reading about your 'paddling' days.

  6. Wow! This was really cool!
    Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2021/09/going-buggy-in-our-yard.html

  7. We first came across Dragon boating in Hong Kong, such an amazing way to keep fit. Congratulations to the Forza Dragon Boat Club on it's anniversary, such an interesting read.
    Wren x

    1. Hi Wren. Certainly has been a great sport for us. I paddled in Hong Kong in 1993. Exciting times.


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.