The returning Battle In The Bay Champions have triumphed once again taking top honors in the third annual dragon boat race held last Saturday at Sombrero Beach in Marathon, Florida Keys. The Tampa Tarpons, a dragon boat team made up of fierce competitors from Tampa and Miami once again dominated Battle In The Bay’s A Division races. The A Division category represents the top level racing teams in the event. Another returning championship team was the Marathon High School Dolphins – once again taking home the B Division bling.
The Conch Republic Navy, hosts to paddlers from Vancouver’s Eye of the Dragon, once again represented the Florida Keys in the A Division. This fusion of local paddlers and guest powerhouses in a show of solidarity for their visually impaired guests and to raise awareness for the inclusive quality of the sport of dragon boating, raced blindfolded feeling the rhythm of the boat and paddling on the count from the drummer rather than watching the person in front of them and listening for the drumbeat. They also qualified for the 2000-meter race held for the top finishing teams from A Division. This race is about the paddlers pacing themselves and is really dependent on the steersperson to get them around the turns and powered back up in the straight-aways.
Exemplifying the community spirit of Battle In The Bay, local paddlers on about half of the local teams collectively raised over $12,000 in pledges that benefit Heron Peacock Supported Living, Stanley Switlik Early Childhood Special Education Program and Marc House. Susan G. Koman for the Cure receives all the donations from the Survivor Flower Ceremony and Reef Relief receives all the proceeds from the beverage sales.
Dave Condra returned as the individual fundraising frontrunner for the third consecutive year, winning 2 nights for two at the Curry Mansion Inn in Key West. Condra surpassed his 2010 earnings for Heron Peacock Supported Living and raised $5,16.24. The combined money raised for Heron Peacock with other dragon boat teams totaled $10,285.