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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



29 September 2017

On a cold, misty morning in September a team of from HMS HIBERNIA took part in a Dragon Racing competition on the Lagan river in Belfast.  The event, which requires crews of up to 18 people to row over a 300 metre stretch of water in a long canoe known as a ‘Dragonboat’, requires co-ordination, physical effort and a sense of humour together with a steely determination if not to win to at least stay afloat.

The event was primarily about supporting charity and was part of the ‘world suicide prevention day’ held to support local suicide prevention charities in Northern Ireland.  However, with 9 crews competing, including teams from the military and emergency services, there was always going to be the potential for friendly rivalry alongside the fund raising. This proved to be the case as the various teams competed to be ’Kings of the River’.

Led by Leading Hand Johnny Carey, the brave decision was taken for the HIBERNIA team to crew their ‘Dragonboat’ with sixteen rather than eighteen in the hope that the extra space would allow a more powerful stroke rate.  The HIBERNIA team brought together shipmates from the various departments and ranks of HIBERNIA’s Ship’s Company. In a slightly nervous opening heat, the inexperience of the HMS HIBERNIA crew showed a little although their energy and determination shone through.  As times improved, the team took ten seconds off of their opening heat time although a resolute team from the Army team still led the way in the competition. 

Eventually, and gaining ground in each heat, the HIBERNIA team finished third overall with only seconds in time between them and the winning team from the Army. Speaking after getting his breath back, Leading Hand Johnny Carey said: ‘it was a tremendous effort and we were so close.  However it was a worthwhile contribution and we were pleased take our part in raising an overall total of £1300 raised for charity which made all the hard work worthwhile”.