Powerhouse was formed in 1998 with the first racing season being 1999.
We were born out of the feeling that a local team, Hartlepool Powermen, had too many women in the boat and wanted a ladies’ team. I was given the task. Some people did not believe it would be possible and stated we will never get enough women interested – like a red rag to a bull, that one. “Watch me”, I think was my reply. The rest, as they say, is history.
So, armed with freshly printed A3 and A4 fliers, we went to all the local ladies’ gyms, and we contacted West Hartlepool Ladies rugby team – they had participated in a charity event he had organised the year before. A date for the first “come and try it” was set and we waited with baited breath and a dozen ladies turned up – enough to launch the boat. We started from the car park at the barrage with the boat tied up near the lock. We had to get changed in our cars and the local shrubbery offered the not-so-perfect-hiding places for bladder relief! Powerhouse Ladies’ team was born.
Weekly training commenced and the ladies brought friends etc to try it out and the team went from strength to strength. Our first race was Salford Keys Manchester, we raced light – 14 paddlers – but we kicked some dragonboat butt! We had a fantastic event and the bug was infectious. We were asked to race in the European club crew championships at Holme Pierre Pont the same year and teamed up with Three Rivers Ladies from Durham, coming away with bronze medals. The Powerhouse spirit was being formed and despite being beaten by some distance, we never ever gave up and paddled right through the line. It was an incredible experience and connections were made with False Creek Ladies who were an extrememly successful ladies team from Canada – we picked their brain and adopted some of their secrets.
We raced as a ladies’ team until 2001 when the net was flung far and wide for paddlers of both genders and all ages.
We had some memorable racing – beaching the boat and running for shelter amid a vicious storm – hail, thunder and lightening at Nottingham, the delivery of our new boat to Nottingham only to find once the helm was on board ready for racing that the steering arm was on the wrong side ! Beating established crews with a bunch of “women, kids and old men”!! We are very proud of the cross section of people we attract and the achievements we’ve had.
On securing the European Championships for Stockton in 2004, Powerhouse had a large representation across all crews. As a result, individuals training went through the roof and Powerhouse felt the benefit as we won the Standard league with 96 points and 7 event wins under our belt. An amazing season! I still wear my t-shirt with immense pride.
We lost a lot of paddlers after 2004, due to university positions, people feeling they had experienced everything they wanted to out of the sport, some injuries etc. We found ourselves recruiting again and feel that we have been building again ever since. We still compete but with a limited number of events, have not had the success of 2004 but whenever we race we compete with the best of them, enjoy every minute and never ever give up. It’s an incredible sport and I’m very honoured to be associated with such a diverse club. Looking back over our 14 years (blimey) we have had huge successes, met lots of brilliant people, experienced the best and worst of the British weather but most of all have met some wonderful people, a few of whom have remained very dear and close friends. When I founded the club in 1998 I did not know what to expect or even if we would succeed – I am so very glad that I started the journey and long may it continue.
Coach and Helm