DRAGON BOAT RACES ROCK!

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‘New Beginnings,’ a team formed by HOPE Clinic to help promote the fight against opioid abuse, was the day’s biggest surprise.

Boy Scout Wave Runners accept the Fran Deaton Perpetual Trophy from Nutrien’s Jessie Aldridge, captain of Fossil Floaters, last year’s champion.

ORIENTAL – This ninth annual event, held Saturday at Grace Harbor Marina in the River Dunes community, is always competitive. However, the 2018 iteration had more than its share of surprises.

HOPE Clinic’s ‘New Beginnings’ team stunned spectators and fellow paddlers with an amazing, first-time stellar performance – ending the day undefeated and the undisputed champion of the Survivors Division, where they competed against Dragons With A Cause, and JoJo Workin Hope.

Hours later Isaac Rodriguez, a scout who is recovering from brain surgery, received a surprise visit when he got a T-shirt and a photo opp with the award.

The popular Community Division is where the crowd always expects to see gritty, grassroots determination as teams who are well known to each other – Boy Scout Wave Runners, Nutrien Fossil Floaters, Oriental Dragon Masters, and River Dunes Dragons – battle it out for the coveted Fran Deaton Perpetual Trophy, intended to memorialize the octogenarian who participated in seven consecutive annual races (beginning with the 2010 inaugural).


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This year, a valiant attempt by Nutrien Fossil Floaters to retain the Trophy fell short, as the Boy Scout Wave Runners had their best times ever across the 300 meter course. In fact, the Scouts did so well within their Division that race organizers made an unprecedented decision – scheduling the Scouts to take on two Marine teams in the final race of the day, where the hometown kids just narrowly lost in a squeaker.

Over the next 12 months, the Boy Scout Wave Runners will reign supreme as Community Division Champs!

After a rousing celebration in which Jessie Aldridge, captain of Nutrien Fossil Floaters, presented Scout Leader David Gaskins with the Fran Deaton Perpetual Trophy, arrangements were immediately made for travel to Vidant Hospital in Greenville, were young scout Isaac Rodriguez – recovering from brain surgery – received an official Dragon Boat T-shirt and a photo opp with the large award.

As has been the case for nine consecutive years, a large contingent of Marines from nearby Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station brought excitement and enthusiasm – with patriotic flair. And, their muscle came in handy at the end of the races as they were recruited to physically lift the massive dragon boats onto a trailer for transport to another venue.

Congratulations to Devil Dog Dragons, who nailed the day’s best time for the course (among all Divisions), which netted them the Championship of the Military Division, followed closely by their colleagues – Chesty Pullers and Neuse Winds Freedom Riders!

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