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HOMOSASSA — Enthusiasm and competitiveness bolted through their bodies as they paddled across the finish line. However, the race on Feb. 18, 2012, ended differently, with a life-altering finish.
Ed Coleman, a Nature Coast Dragon Boat Club member, met the woman of his dreams. After paddling the 7.5-mile race on the Hillsborough River, sponsored by Rick’s Mad Paddlers Rally, his perfect woman, Darcy Coleman — a paddler with SACA Gold Dragons in Tampa — inquired about joining the Nature Coast Dragon Boat Club.
“I wasn’t looking for love, a girlfriend or anything,” Ed said. “She asked about the club but I did not expect to see her again.”
A shock to Ed, Darcy showed up at the next practice in Homosassa and was positioned in the seat next to him. Two weeks later they were dating and on Feb. 16 they were married at a beachside wedding in Clearwater.
Nature Coast Dragon Boat Club not only gained a paddler — it has affected the lives of everyone participating.
“Terry Johnson started the club three or four years ago,” Ed said. “There is no way when he started the club that he could have envisioned that it would affect a lot of lives the way it does, especially ours.”
This philosophy is the basis behind the three-day-a-week practices and frequent races. The club travels worldwide and battles against other alliances. However, this weekend they are bringing the teams to their “home” — the Homosassa River.
The Nature Coast Dragon Boat Club will host the fourth annual Homosassa Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday in Homosassa, at 5297 South Cherokee Way.
The 300-meter sprint race starts at 9 a.m. A barrel race starts at noon followed by the 3,000-meter long-distance race at 2 p.m. The Nature Coast Dragon Boat Club, with the average age of it members at 60, will face 11 other teams, with 400 paddlers expected.
The events take place on the Homosassa River and originate at the Homosassa Riverside Resort in Old Homosassa. The day will be action-packed, with events for children, an awards ceremony and various music offerings.
When they are not racing, the Nature Coast Dragon Boat Club members volunteer in the community. This year they are featuring Feed the Hungry Dragon, which benefits the We Care Food Pantry.
“The boat will be out there and people can place food in the dragon boat until it is filled up,” said coordinator Dieter Hollweck. “We want to help with the local need.”
The race can be seen along the river in front of the resort or at the public boat ramp.
Contact Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or email@example.com.