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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Weaver Simmons a Dragon Boat mainstay
by Randy Pascal

Whether at work or at play, the staff of Weaver Simmons likes to provide some piece of mind.

With one hundred or so lawyers and administrative staff on board, the largest Ontario law firm north of Toronto is already well-established within the Sudbury and area legal community.

But when it comes to their sporting involvement, the Weaver Simmons legacy is equally well-established within the lore of the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival. A mainstay since the launch of the mid-summer paddling tradition, the firm have fielded a boat in all but a few years, and more recently on an annual basis since 2009.

The man tackling the role of captain and coach since that time, lawyer Michael Haraschuk provided a little background on his crew following practice last Thursday evening. "Most of the time, it's filled with lawyers and staff, but some years, we look beyond the law office if we are not able to fill the boat," he said.

The 2015 edition of the good ship Weaver Simmons required a little extra work. "We actually have a lot of new paddlers this year," said Haraschuk. "At least 50% of our boat have never paddled before. We have some younger people who are in the boat this year, so we're just going to have fun and have a good time.

With numbers down across the board, many Festival regulars are tackling the challenge of attracting newcomers to the joy of dragon boat racing, a pleasure that every single Sudburian should enjoy at least a small handful of times in their life.

"The important thing, from my perspective, is longevity of the team," noted Haraschuk. "We have new people coming aboard, and that's a great thing in keeping a dragon boat team going from year to year."

That said, the turnover requires a little more coaching on the part of Harachuk and others of his ilk. "The most important thing in a boat, I feel, is unison," he stated.

"That's something to stress to all paddlers. The returning paddlers, obviously, have more experience with proper paddle strokes than the new paddlers. It takes them some time to get that proper A-frame paddle stroke, because it's a very awkward stroke."

"It's not a canoe stroke," continued Haraschuk. "It's almost as though you're attacking each paddle stroke. That's something that's different." In the spirit of the Festival, all teams' third and final race of the day finds them matched up with other equal-caliber boats, allowing everyone in attendance to have something of a realistic chance at winning at least one heat.

Haraschuk does not expect the Weaver Simmons conglomerate to rank among the fastest boats of the day. "I think our time will be a little bit slower than it has in the past, given the amount of new blood in the boat," he said.

But to Festival organizers, and the charities that are supported, that matters little. This really is about the fact that, year after year, a Weaver Simmons entry is put forth, providing a little piece of mind to all those who benefit from the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival.

For that alone, Haraschuk and the good folks at Weaver Simmons have plenty to be proud of.

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