AFTER SPENDING MOST OF HER WORKING CAREER IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY, GLENYS CUMMINGS FROM GEMLIFE RAINBOW BEACH NOW FEELS MOST AT HOME ON THE WATER.
Like many who take up the sport of dragon boat and outrigger canoe racing, Glenys came to the sport later in life. There, she discovered a natural ability and has represented at national level in both sports.
“In dragon boat racing I represented Australia twice (2017 and 2019) and represented NSW ten times,” she said. “I’m also in the Golden Master Women’s outrigging crew, and we’ve twice won the 18km long course in the NSW state titles in the two years our team has been together. And in the nationals, we’ve also been in the medals in both the short course (10km) and the long course.”
Originally from New Zealand, Glenys first settled in Western Australia before doing a bit of travelling and ended up in the Northern Territory where she spent 24 years working.
“I’ve done quite a few things over the years, but I have two primary qualifications. The first is in nursing, which I did during the early part of my career, before going back to university to do my degree in accounting after becoming a costings clerk at a mine in the Northern Territory,” she said.
“I was looking for something to do after I retired in 2011, and when I moved to Cairns, I discovered dragon boat racing.”
Dragon boat racing is a Chinese sport that dates back more than 2000 years in which crews of up to 20 compete in boats decorated with dragon heads and tails. But it was more than just the desire to take up a new sport which motivated Glenys.
“I think one of the reasons why older women are drawn to dragon boat racing is because they are also breast cancer survivors,” she said. “In fact, there is a charity called Dragons Abreast in Australia that promotes the health benefits of the sport.”
In addition to the sport being an excellent cardio-vascular and strength workout, doctors have also discovered that the paddling action helps survivors avoid lymphedema, the painful swelling that can occur after the surgical removal of lymph nodes.
After enjoying a decade on the dragon boats, the sport of outrigger canoeing beckoned to Glenys.
Outrigger canoe racing differs from dragon boat racing in several ways. The outrigger canoes have lateral floats – outriggers – to provide stability, the paddles are different shapes and each person rows on both sides of the canoe.
“Dragon boat paddles are straight bladed while outrigger paddles are angled with a round blade,” said Glenys. “That has to do with where the racing takes place. Dragon boats compete in still water, outriggers compete on the ocean.
“These days, I do more outrigger canoeing than dragon boat racing, although I still coach a crew. I love outrigger canoeing. There is something special about being out on the ocean early in the morning. It’s so relaxing, even though you’re working hard.
“That’s one of the reasons why I love living at GemLife Rainbow Beach, I’m close to my sister and her family and I also get to be out on the water where I see dolphins, turtles and whales. And I’m looking forward to the opening of the Country Club, I’ll be using the gym and swimming in the magnesium-infused pool, for sure!”