Australia’s only gay and lesbian dragon boat team, Different Strokes, competed in the Australian National Dragon Boat Championships in Canberra from April 1 – 3.

More than 40 clubs from all over Australia were represented and raced over three days on Lake Burley Griffin.

Different Strokes sent 48 team members to Canberra and raced in the Premier Open, Mixed and Women’s divisions in the 200m, 500m and 2km races. This was the first Australian National Dragon Boat Championships that Different Strokes entered.

The women’s team reached the semi-finals in the 500m race.

Different Strokes vice president Alastair Paterson told the Star Observer the team was excited with the race results, having credible times in all the races.

“The very fact that our relatively new club was competing with clubs from all around Australia at a national level was a real high,” he said.

“It was a true bonding experience with the team and for the dragon boat community.”

The regatta marked the end of the dragon boat season, but Different Strokes will continue to train over the winter months.

Paterson said dragon boating is one of Australia’s fastest-growing sports, with Different Strokes growing from a base membership of 10 to a membership of 87 in 2011.

“Although we are the only gay and lesbian-identifying team in Australia, many clubs have gay and lesbian members.

“In fact, we were in the 2011 Mardi Gras parade with a float called ‘The Dragon’s Lair’ and were joined by many other members from other Sydney teams,” he said.

Different Strokes was formed in June 2008, has completed three seasons and will compete again when the new season starts in July.

“Our presence at the national championships was warmly received, with many clubs showing real interest in the club and what we stood for,” Paterson said.

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