By TONY WHITE
YAMBA Surf Lifesaving Club are the undisputed kings of the Clarence River ? Dragon Boat style. For the third year in succession Yamba SLSC powered its way to victory in the annual Grafton Dragon Boat Festival on the mighty Clarence River. In a spine-tingling finish to the final watched by hundreds of spectators, Yamba SLSC rallied to hold off unheralded Sons & Donohoe Plumbing by a 'dragon's nose', with three-time finalists South Grafton High and Grafton Hockey Club finishing third and fourth respectively. "This is just great, you beauty," Yamba SLSC spokesman Dan Fahey said shortly after the final. And just to show the life savers from Yamba are a crew right out of the box, they went within centimetres of beating the professionals in a special post final race against the Dragon Boat NSW representatives. Throughout the exciting day's racing involving 28 crews from local schools, business houses and visitors, only two crews ? Yamba and Sons & Donohoe Plumbing ? had broken the magical minute over the specifically designed 250m course. But in the final Yamba managed to hold off Son & Donohoe to record 58.55 with three of the four finalists virtually crossing the line locked together. The Dragon Boat Festival was introduced three years back and the mob from Yamba remain undefeated. Fahey said half of this year's crew have been involved in previous Dragon Boat Challenges. This year's winning team have a common bond as life savers but come from all walks of life. There's a chemist, a bee keeper, Video Ezy workers, students, transport workers, a doctor and physio therapist to name just a few. "This is just great," Fahey said. "I'd like to thank our sponsors Westlawn Finance, Moonee Beach Pharmacy, our crew, particularly for their dedication, the volunteers from Dragon Boat NSW and the organising committee. "This Festival is just fantastic." Fahey promised Yamba SLSC will be back next year to defend its title. The SGHS team, finalists for the past three years, managed to knock off Yamba SLSC in the opening heat of the event posting a fast time but despite rallying late in the final, narrowly failed to bridge the gap. Organisers Lyn Diskon and Mark Butler from the Clarence Community Events Incorporated said this year's running of the family orientated Festival proved a huge success. "It just gets bigger and better," Butler said. "We've got a Grafton Dragon Boat Club registered with our own boat and we're hopeful of people attending an accreditation course in Coffs Harbour. "This is something really different for water sports on the Clarence and it's built into a successful event and continuing to move forward." Diskon added the support of the volunteers from Dragon Boat NSW has been enormous. "Apparently 30 of then wanted to come to Grafton this year but they can only bring 20," Diskon said. "They love the community spirit up here. They all want to be part of it."