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Jubilant in Jersey!!

Black Sheep Marines


Senior C-Class

No mercy at Mercer...

Winning Silver in Senior B Class


USDBF Club Crew

National Championships

Mercer County Park, New Jersey

The Black Sheep Marines traveled to their first National Championship competition

in Lake Windsor, New Jersey on September 14-15, 2013

The competition began with one of Coach Greg Walker's demanding practices at Mercer County Park on Friday the 13th, also the day the team flew in to Newark from Orlando International. After a long and exhausting day of travel and practice, the team settled into their accommodations at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village for a good nights rest in preparation for Saturday's races. 

Although a bit chillier than the race and practice conditions the team is accustom to in Florida, it was fairly decent conditions in the low 70's, partly sunny but with a bit of a wind chill that was especially noticeable following races when wet attire made the team thankful for Julie and Mike Mitchell's extra towels, blankets and warm attire. Julie and Mike who drove in their RV, provided the valuable service of transporting the teams paddles and PFDs to New Jersey and the venue site at Mercer County Park. Following debate on interpretation of age rules and changes, the team leadership opted to race with the team they had committed to compete with which put them into senior class division B in the 49 and up age bracket. Normally the team would be classified in the Senior C division with their average age being 67, but 2 team members were just a few months short of age 59 on June 1st and one team member just a few days short. Knowing they would be competing with a younger Philadelphia team with National team members who had bumped down to B from the A classification, the Black Sheep Marines knew they had to perform beyond their wildest expectations if they had any hope of capturing a gold and automatic entry into the Worlds in 2014 at Ravenna Italy.

On Saturday, day one of competition all senior teams in C and B classification competed against each other, 5 teams in all, in 2-500M races and 1-1000M race. In race 1-500M the BSM's 2nd place time in the field of 5 teams was 2:17.48 while PDBA finished 1st with 2:12.23; in race 2-500M the BSM placed 2nd again with a time of 2:15.63, shaving almost 2 seconds off their first 500m time and PDBA again finishing 1st with a time of 2:13.62.

In the last race of the day and the most grueling of race distances, 1000M, the BSM for the 3rd time of the day finished 2nd with a time of 4:37.52 and PDBA again captured first with a time of 4:31.13. In all of Saturday's race the BSM dominated the C classification teams, winning comfortably over them in all 3 races. The team met up that evening for dinner at Macaroni's and all agreed that getting served was the most challenging part of the day although they all enjoyed the camaraderie even if they did come in last in dining experience.

Sunday brought a day of perfection in weather and racing. Sunshine, clear blue skies and no wind to speak of were the best of conditions for competition and enjoying the event and medal ceremonies. Two 200m races contributed points to determine the final standings after Saturday and Sunday races were combined.  

In the 1st 200M race the BSM faltered on their start but still placed 2nd for the 4th time with a time of 54.29 with their nemesis PDBA again in first place with a time of 52.86. In their final attempt to finish first, the BSM succeeded in their last 200M race winning over PDBA (55.09) with a time of 54.83. Satisfied that they showed no mercy with the C classification teams, dominating all of them in all 5 races, the BSM were content with their times against a formidable opponent, the PDBA team, and ecstatic to pull off a win over them in the final race that counted in the standings. In the last competition of the day, teams competed in a 2000m that did not contribute points to the final standings, but again showed the BSM strength against their fellow Village competitors. Despite a couple of interferences the BSM came out on top of the Leathernecks (11:12.90) and Grandmaster's team (11:02.33) with a time of 10:41.60. However, the Vermont Dragonheart Quicksilver Senior team who took first place in the C class, finished over the BSM with an outstanding time of 10:32.92.

An awards ceremony concluded the event, with the BSM winning silver in Class B, knowing that just a few months in age stood between them and a gold in the C Class, but also knowing that by reaching higher and higher against tougher teams they are also achieving beyond their expectations. The team topped off the day with a visit to Princeton and dinner in celebration of Coach Greg Walker's birthday. The team returned to The Villages on Monday and with a brief rest resumed practice for the upcoming race, Paddles Up St. Petes on September 28th.

Although the entire team contributes to make out of state competitions possible, there are always those that go above and beyond in planning and booking the team's travel and hotel accommodations.

The team wishes to acknowledge and extend thanks to the following people who give of their energy and time on behalf of the team.

Leading the Black Sheep Team to Ever Greater Heights

Coach Greg Walker; Christine Gillis, Team Manager; Gordon Gillis, Captain

Special Thanks to Marie Heidemann, who graciously stepped from lead port paddler into the role of drummer and did an outstanding job for her team. As a former Chicago Police officer, the leaders knew Marie could command and guide a boat full of Marines and feisty personalities to listen and perform at their best and she proved them to be right.

Dragon girls and lead paddlers

Congratulations on your first BSM race

Mary Lou Bremer and Lynn Feeks

Dela survived!

Black Sheep Win last race of competition!

Team Places In All 3 Division D Races!


Gold Medal 1st

Place Cup - 100M

3rd Place Cup - 200M

3rd Place Cup - 500M

The Black Sheep Marines team traveled to Ottawa, Ontario Canada on June 20th to participate in North America's largest dragon boat festival with 185 teams from across Canada and the Black Sheep Marines were one of only two teams from the USA competing in the the 20th annual Tim Horton's Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival.

The journey to Ottawa began for most team members with shuttle bus transportation departing from Lake Miona Recreation Center in The Villages at 9:30am, Thursday the 20th, to Orlando International Airport arriving in Montreal with a short connecting flight to Ottawa landing at 5:45pm. Gayla Johnston and Jane Hoffman drove with their spouses from their summer homes in Kentucky and Wisconsin. Greg and Connie flew from their summer home in Nova Scotia. Cas & Sharon drove from The Villages and provided the valuable service of transporting the teams' paddles and PDFs. Last but not least, Mike Johnson made his way to

Ottawa on Friday via flights from one end of the country to the other to retrieve his passport, a long and costly story, and took a cab from Ottawa airport straight to the festival site Friday evening where the team gave the weary traveler a hero's welcome for his team effort to arrive in time to race the next day. Most team members met up the first night in Ottawa at the Black Bear pub, a short walk from the National Hotel in downtown Ottawa where the team stayed, for pre-race camaraderie where Greg and Connie, and Gordon's daughter Stacey and his three grandsons Noah, Logan and Nicolas, joined the team.

The team rented 3 mini-vans to transport them between the hotel and the festival venue. On Friday they practiced with Coach Greg Walker at the Rideau Canoe Club across Mooney Bay from the festival site on the Rideau river. The deep, cold water of the Rideau river was a refreshing change from the shallow warm waters of Florida and the boat glided like silk under the guidance of Coach Walker and their substitute drummer, Liz Elton, a member of the Rideau Canoe Club. Drummers play a significant role aboard the boats in Canada during practices and competitions.

After practice on Friday, Greg and Connie invited the team to a walk-a-bout in downtown Ottawa where they were awed by the magnificent architecture and beauty of the city en route to a pub suggested by Connie where the team enjoyed an excellent selection of deliciously prepared fare for lunch.

Next on the agenda Friday evening was the opening ceremony at the festival site where the Black Sheep team led the parade of teams behind the bagpipe brocade to the main festival tent where festival officials and the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, opened the ceremony and colorful dragon costumed dancers performed. The winners of the teams' pre-race fitness competition headed up by John MacPhee, Gayla Johnston, Cas Chmielnicki and Greg Walker, won the honor of carrying the team's banner and team Captain Gordon Gillis was voted by the team to carry the team's flag in the parade of teams.

Saturday's qualifying 500M race competition began at 10:00am in race # 14 for the Black Sheep Marines, where they placed 2nd behind the number one seeded Canadian team, Terry Longhorn, with a team best 500M time of 2:15.27. In their 2nd 500M qualifying race #41 at 3:30pm, the team placed first beating their previous 500M best time by over 3 seconds with a time of 2:12.04.

Saturday' Race Results The Black Sheep Marines needed to place in the top 75 mixed teams to move onto Sunday's final races and they were ecstatic to find themselves seeded 29th out of 185 teams after Saturday's qualifying races. Saturday Overall Standings Their placing in the mixed team classification was 27th of 75 teams with their best qualifying time of 2:12.04. Saturday Mixed Team Standings

The Black Sheep Marine's mixed team standing of 27th landed them in Division D, the 4th highest division of 10 divisions A through J. The opening race for them was the 200M race #63 at 9:30am where they pulled off a 3rd place finish with a time of 50.76, only .06 second out of 2nd place. The top 4 teams' times were within a second of each other.

The 2nd Sunday race was the 100M race #76 at 11:40am. The Black Sheep Marines made a monumental effort to capture first place in this all out sprint in their first ever 100M race in competition with a winning time of 26.40. The top 5 finishing teams were all within a second of each other.

The final 3rd Sunday race was the 500M race #90 at 3:00pm. Once again the Black Sheep Marines proved to their Canadian competitors they were serious challengers with a 3rd place finish time of 2:09.66, again setting a new team best 500M time. Sunday Race Results

The Black Sheep Marines were the only senior team competing and the only team to place in all 3 of their Division D races. The young Canadian teams, in recognition of this senior team's tenacity from the The Villages Florida, bowed to them at the awards ceremony where pandemonium broke out when the Black Sheep Marines took stage for their first place 100M medals and cup. Ottawa knows how to throw a party in celebration of the teams' efforts and the awards ceremony was nothing short of the wildest, most high-energy celebration anyone had ever witnessed. Many team members exchanged their team shirts with Canadians teams, Galley Girls, Fleet of Foote, their host team, and RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)-GRC 22 Horsepower.

Port Lead Paddler Marie exchanges shirt with Galley Girl at the awards celebration; Sun 6-23-2013 Photo: cc

To quote team member Mike Johnson:

Since we have returned to Florida we are constantly telling everyone about our great experience and that Ottawa was by far "the best" dragon boat event we have ever been to. I tell people it was part rock concert, carnival, and dragon boat race all rolled into one!

Monday was a free day to relax, unwind (if possible) and enjoy the city and many members took a bus tour of the city while some toured the Parliament building. Team members returned to The Villages Monday the 24th and Tuesday the 25th in the last amazing race of the event when after their flight was cancelled Monday evening, they were separated into various flights. Ted Kasubick, who was determined to get home as soon as possible in preparation for another trip that week, took the flight to Philadelphia on Monday evening even though he would miss the connecting flight to Orlando and was able to take an early morning flight to Orlando, winning the amazing race home of those team members on the original team flight, arriving at his door at 11am Tuesday morning. 

Special Thanks To All The Team Members

that played an instrumental role in putting the team on the road to Ottawa, and to all the spouses who contributed time and effort for the team, and especially to the Canadian host team, Fleet of Foote for their warm hospitality above and beyond, and the incredible women Liz Elton and Kris Foss who drummed for the Black Sheep Marines team and all the officials and representatives of Tim Horton's Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, such as Sandy Foote and Jennifer MacKiddie who assisted the team in every way necessary to make their participation possible in the best and largest dragon boat festival in

North American.

  • Transportation Coordination, Registration and too much other to mention - Mike Mitchell
  • Fitness Challenge, Hotel and Flights, and 2013 Team Pins - John MacPhee
  • Photography and Video Capturing: Nels & Susan Christiansen; Bob Johnston
  • Van Drivers - Nels Christiansen; Mike Mitchell; Bob Carroll
  • Mike Johnson for changing his plans and work schedule so he could race in Ottawa and for being a great substitute coach for Greg. The team all agree you do a tremendous job in Greg's absence.
  • Ray Vail, for not only his duty (Did you catch that Nels?) as Co-Captain, but the many extra details he took care of for Ottawa and for designing and ordering a boat flag along with the help of Ted Kasibick.
  • Coach Greg Walker for your unrelenting effort and motivation to make the Black Sheep Marines team a serious competitor among the best Canadian teams and a top senior team in the States.
  • Drummers Liz Elton and Kris Foss for the lessons you taught the team and for the role you played in their success in Ottawa. You are both terrific!
  • Fleet of Foote Host Team - you are the absolute best! You spoiled the team rotten with the terrific food and beautiful flower leis, and you made the team feel right at home with the Floridian theme with which you adorned the team tent. Thanks for sharing your tent and chairs and for your warmest of welcome. The team looks forward to reciprocating in Florida.
  • George G. from Draggin' Dragons of Punta Gorda who was a substitute paddler and a tremendous paddler that the team felt very fortunate to snag thanks to Gordon's keen awareness.
  • Cas Chmielnicki and Sharon Kane for transporting the team's gear to and from Ottawa.
  • Ottawa Team Services staff Jennifer MacKiddie and Sandy Foote for their prompt and courteous efforts that made the Black Sheep Marines participation effortless and enjoyable.  

Captain Gordon Gillis - Lake Sumter practice June 27th, 2013 Photo: Kathy MantelAnd last, but most importantly, to the team's beloved Captain, Gordon Gillis and team manager, Christine Gillis who have made a dream come true for not only themselves when they embarked upon creating a winning and charitable team, but for every team member and for every other person and charity that has been touched by a team who puts their heart and soul into being a top-notch competitor and inspires everyone, no matter their age or disability to always do their best.

Photo: Kathy Mantel

Captain Gordon Gillis at 1st practice following Ottawa in the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)-GRC 22 Horsepower jersey he exchanged with the Canadian team holding the Black Sheep Marines Ottawa cups and 1st place 100M medal. 

Congratulations and Comments:

Mary Lou with George from Punta Gorda Draggin' Dragons subs for Black Sheep in Ottawa Sun. 6-23-2013 Gordon and Chris,

I hope you had a safe and uneventful trip home. And Gordon, I hope you are feeling better, we missed you in the boat. I wanted to thank you for the honor of joining your team for the Ottawa Event. You are a great team and a great group of people as well. It was definitely my pleasure to join you. Lots of luck and success in the future although I don't think luck plays much of a role. Great conditioning, good coaching and the competitive spirit makes you "guys" winners.

Hopefully see you all next year at one of the Florida events. Please feel free to share this with the team members if you so choose.

George G from Draggin' Dragons of Punta Gorda who paddled with the BSM Ottawa team

Entry fee 2013 Ottawa dragon boat festival $1400; Hotel room $500; Van rental; meals $300-400?? Spending time with good friends & Black Sheep team mates PRICELESS !!!

Coach Greg Walker and wife Connie - Ottawa DB Festival Sun. 6-23-2012 Photo: Coco

Coach Greg Walker

Hey Sheep,

Great article in the paper today and congratulations on a job well done!! It's obvious your hard work and dedication has paid off...keep it up!!

S/F...Dennis Faillo

Hey Sheep,

Front page article today reporting how well you did in Ottawa!

Congratulations on a job well done!

Lynn Feeks

Way to go, Sheep -- the hard work is paying off!! Many kudos to the team!!!

Ed Carter

Hey Black Sheep, If you haven't yet seen today's Daily Sun, you're going to love it. Front page coverage, great pictures of the team, and the results of the Ottawa races. Great job guys. Gene Campbell


We obviously could not have done it without your guidance, coaching, patience and drive. As you said before the second 500 on Saturday, "I don't know how to go slow." Now, we don't either. On to Nationals!

Mike Mitchell

Congratulations to my "fierce" Florida team!!!

Loretta Supplee

Quick review shows that we had a better time in our 500 Sunday (2:09.66) than the Fleet of Foote team in the B Division ( 2:10.46). That's showing something!. It couldn't have all been the conditions. I think a large part of it was all the hard work we've put in on conditioning and technique over the last two months.

Let's keep it going and take the NATIONALS!!

Paddles Up! Uuuu -- raaaghhh!

Bill Marsh

Woo hoo! What a festival!!!! Loved it!!!

Kathy Mantel

Great weekend, fantastic memories, and a huge team hug for individual and team performances far above our most lofty expectations. Congratulations to all!!!

Ray Vail

Congratulations to all who really prevailed in our 'sister country' to the north!!

What a great performance!

Pete Oatis

So many e-mails after the Ottawa race weekend and they all point to a fantastic team, great athletes, dedicated to achieve the next level, and a willingness to do that extra effort in preparation for the future races. I am proud to be a Black Sheep Marine and to have such great friends and team mates. See you when I get back. Remember, you Galley Girls need to work hard for your new coach. I'll be making a video for the Ottawa group when I return. Glad to see Gordon getting better and we appreciate all that Greg and Gordon have done to make this time in our Senior years filled with incredible memories. WOW, WOW, WOW

John MacPhee

I would like to take time to thank the people who worked making the Ottawa trip work . From start to finish, from booking to driving it was like clock work. Special thanks to Nels who is always there, taking pictures , driving & cheering us on doing what it takes!!!

And our Captain Gordie who on Sat was so sick he couldn't get out of bed. Come Hell or high water he was going to be there to see his team race Sunday. Never once did he complain , or why me , or wish I could be racing. I was watching my team from home racing & coming by the results tent spied Gord & others still waiting for 100m results. Before I could get there out comes a big cheer, Gord two feet in the air smile from ear to ear. .. he was so happy that his team mates had won. This man is a true Captain, always team first never thinking of himself , able to make the tough but fair decisions. I am proud to have Gord as a friend, team mate, & I know he will have each & everyone of our backs ...

Greg Walker (Coach)

Greg, You said it all. Nels is always helping the team in one way or another and I can't thank him enough! Nels - here's a little something for you "duty". As for Gordon, what can I say... He is an amazing human being and a true inspiration, not to mention a great captain. Even though his physical body did not race, he was in my heart and soul during every race and I know I pushed harder than I believed possible in order to help make up for his absence and to make him proud.

Thanks to all of you for such a great, life changing experience. I love you all.

Julie Mitchell

Gordy, Chris, & All the Black Sheep-- The Sisters would like to take this opportunity to extend our most sincere congratulations on your victories in Canada. Your time in the 100M was absolutely amazing!! Your performances exemplify what good practice and preparation mean to be able to do well in a race. You must be very proud of your team--whether it be the Yankees or the Red Sox--you certainly made your mark. Thanks for representing all our teams so well and showing them we are serious competitors in the South! Congrats again --good job-hard work-great benefits-what a pay-off!! Best wishes to you all in upcoming races!!

Marguerite & the Sisters

WOW!!!!! Just saw front page of the paper - that is beyond awesome!!!!!

Sue Nock

Congratulations, Black Sheep, job well done!!

Claudia & Jack McNichols

Putting the team on the road took shared effort by so many who stepped up. Mike Mitchell was always on top of the team needs and solved our accommodation and transportation needs Monday night when our flight was cancelled. He set up our Ottawa transportation as well and did a bang up job too. The vans were comfortable and great to ride in and it was the perfect way to get us back and forth to the venue. I know he took care of many other details in planning this trip as well. John MacPhee, one of the very fun 3 amigos, did a lot of the preliminary work for flights and hotel accommodations, and headed up a fitness challenge to get us in great shape for Ottawa and did it ever pay off! The 2013 pins John order are terrific looking and were a nice memento for us and our host team in Ottawa. Great idea John. Ray took care of the Orlando transportation needs, coordinated the agenda in Ottawa, order a new flag with Ted's help as well and communicated with the festival representatives in Ottawa. So much planning went into this trip it is difficult to detail everything, but let me just say all our leaders, Gordon, Chris, Ray and team mates like Mike M and John M stepped up and shared responsibilities and it is amazing how well this team can work together to achieve, on and off the boat.

And then there is Greg who made this all possible by developing this team to the level of being able to compete among some of the best dragon boat teams in Canada. You truly are a coach that knows how to motivate and make us want to give more and that is a talent I know the great Vince Lombardi would admire in you because he is the one that said...

"Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate."

We are a great team, getting greater with each practice and each race, thanks to the efforts of us all and the camaraderie that makes it all a lot of fun too.

Coco Christiansen

..and let's not forget Mike Johnson. We all paid a price to get to Ottawa, but Mike went above and beyond the call of "duty" (hehehe) and wound up paying more than any of us (and certainly taking a more circuitous route). If he hadn't made the personal commitment and sacrifice to be there we would have had only 19 paddlers in the boat. Well done, Woop.

Mike Mitchell

Gordon, Ray, Greg, Chris and all the Black Sheep Team, congratulations on a fantastic showing in Canada. You all have proved to all of us the results of setting the bar high and training hard to get there. You all are awesome, but than again I knew that!


Sandra and the Dragon Sisters

SEE WHAT YOU 'SHEEPERS' HAVE CREATED,,,and it only took .26:40 seconds~


Congratulations Susan and all the Black Sheep!!!!! What a great accomplishment!!! Proud of you and your awesome teammates!

Neighbors Steve/Marilyn Echols

Congrats on your win in Canada! We bet you guys had a ball! We are proud of your winning and your representation of the Villages! We old guys can still do it!

Have a safe trip home.

Judy & Dave Johnson of the Leathernecks Team

Hi Ray and Gordon!

Have seen the results Black Sheep Marines attained in Ottawa this past

weekend, and I want you to know that I am so happy for you! What a great

showing for your team! Please pass on my congratulations to all!

Ann Miller

Greg, Well said. We were like a well oiled machine with the knowledge that a

master mechanic was standing with us every step of the way.

Ray Vail

Dear Sheep,

All these thank you's --- I wholeheartedly agree with every single word of them. It was a truly amazing experience because of the hard work and dedication of so many!

Thank you all! Again, I'm thanking my lucky stars for landing on this team!

Kathy Mantel

The GMDBC Board sends a hearty congratulations to the Black Sheep Marines for their success at the Ottawa International Dragon Boat Festival! They represented themselves and our club very well competing in a large field of teams.

Dave Yates

The Sisters would like to add their heartiest congratulations to all of you. We are so proud of you and your exemplary times. You are the epitome of a hard working, disciplined team, proving to all that hard work, good practices and training pay off! Who cares about age??? Congratulations to all!





...what a guy you are Mike Johnson!! Come hell or high water you were determined to make it to Ottawa for the races and that you did do and we are all so grateful you did!!! But not all of us are grateful for your massage lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

MY BACK STILL HURTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Coco Christiansen

SB Lead paddler Mary Lou Bremer - Ottawa DB Festival; Sat. 6-22-2013 ...agree also. This trip worked without a hitch due to all the hard work our team mates put in. Thank you all, the weekend was the best ever!!! I will never forget it.

Mary Lou Bremer

p.s. And Nels, thank you for driving us everywhere we needed to go. You went above and beyond your 'duty'. HeHeHe

Bob Levenson - Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival; Sun. 6-23-2013 Photo: Coco

Hi Team,

I hope by now all of you have made it safe and sound to your final destinations.

Susan wrote all of us were the recipients of unbelievable hospitality from Sandy

Foote and his team, Fleet of Foote. Would it be appropriate for those of us in Ottawa

to each contribute $20 or $25 each or whatever amount agreed upon to donate to their

charity from the Black Sheep Marines? Great races, great people, great team, I'm very

proud to be a member of the Black Sheep Marines!

Semper Fi,

Bob Levenson

I'm a paragraph. Click once to begin entering your own content. You can change my font, size, line height, color and more by highlighting part of me and selecting the options from the toolbar.


On behalf of the Black Sheep Marines Dragon Boat Racing Team I'd like to express our sincere appreciation for the tremendous reception we received at the Tim Horton Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival last weekend. It was truly a remarkable experience for all of us. The support we received from you and your team was great, as were the race venue and the smooth operation of the races. It was one of the best run, most fun races we've been to. This was a rare opportunity for us to mix with teams from outside our normal race circle and we were moved by the way in which we were welcomed and accepted by all.

We certainly will spread the word down here in Florida about your fantastic festival and hope that we will be able to return for future races.

Christine Gillis and Mike Mitchell - Ottawa DB Festival; Sunday June 23, 2013 Photo cc



Mike Mitchell

Black Sheep Marines Dragon Boat Racing Team


I certainly echo what Mike said about our visit to Canada and the awesome hospitality we received.

Since we have returned to Florida we are constantly telling everyone about are great experience and that Ottawa was by far "the best" dragon boat event we have ever been to. I tell people it was part rock concert, carnival, and dragon boat race all rolled into one!

The way you do the awards ceremony is unlike any other event we have attended. Bringing all three winners of a race in each Division up on the stage to celebrate "together" helped build the connection between all the teams. As a former engineer, I had to marvel at the stage's ability to hold all that weight! I have recommended we incorporate "high energy" music and dancing as part of our workout regimen. The energy expended was phenomenal!

When the Stray Paddlers team, in total, bowed down in front of the stage in "we are not worthy" fashio when we received our Gold Medal for the 100 meter, I was truly impressed and deeply touched by their humility and class.

Canadians really know how to compete, throw a party, and make people feel welcome.

Although, we really lost our shirts in Ottawa...literally! As a team we lost 10-12 of our coveted Marine Corps racing jerseys, right off our backs! We were honored to exchange jerseys with other teams because of the relationships which developed in such a short time. I was honored to be asked to exchange my jersey and to receive a RCMP jersey.

I am certain that we will be back next year in mass if we are invited. Otherwise I will have to come "cross-dressed" and join "that" team!

Please pass on our thanks to all!


Mike Johnson

Your neighbor and friend to the south.

 Please extend my congratulations to the Black Sheep Marines for their success at the Ottawa International Dragon Boat Festival in Ottawa.

Carol Glaude of the Leatherneck Warriors

April Races Bring

Shower of Medals & Cups

7 Medals

2 Senior &

Village Cups

When it rains, it pours for the Black Sheep Marines Team who were coming up winners in every festival of the spring season,

achieving medals in all of their March & April races and 2 cups.

April 6th, 2013

Central Florida Dragon Boat Races @ Tavares

Gold Medal Division B & Senior Division Cup

April 13th, 2013

Punta Gorda Dragon Boat Festival

Silver Division A

April 20th, 2013

Cocoa Beach Dragon Boat Festival

Gold Medal Village Cup & Silver Medal Mixed Community Event

April 27th, 2013

Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Festival

Silver Division B & Bronze Senior Division

Triumphant at


The Black Sheep Win Senior

Top Dog!!

"What counts is not necessarily the

size of the dog in the fight -

it's the size of the fight in the dog"

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

It was one year ago that the weather flipped the Black Sheep Marines boat into the tumultuous waters of Dora Lake spilling the crew and spoiling their chances of a medal in the Division C final that the Leathernecks team went on to win...barely holding on long enough to cross the finish line as their boat succumbed to flooding and sunk. Back to redeem themselves in the 2013 Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival, the Black Sheep Marines team did just that, with the cooperation of a perfect spring day in central Florida. This will be a day that goes down as one of the all time greats in the history of the Black Sheep Marines team for not only their accomplishments and the solidification of their "Top Dog" status among the senior teams by winning the Senior Championship Challenge, but for their transformation and emergence into a new version of their "old best self". As in life, team's are dynamic, ever changing and evolving and the Black Sheep Marines have conquered their growing pains and emerged as an "improved version". While it is difficult to lose great teammates who have retired from the sport like Dennis Faillo, who from the beginning helped build the Black Sheep team into a great one, we welcome our new team mates and are grateful for their contributions and for a full roster of great paddlers. We are also grateful for our strong senior team competitors - The Leathernecks, Silver Dragons and the Leatherneck Warriors for without them healthy competition and the cooperation that it requires could not exist. For "A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace" (Ovid) and we wouldn't be the team we are now if teams like the "Leathernecks, Silver Dragons and Warriors" had not set the wire so high and continue to push us to new heights. We congratulate all of them on their outstanding performances at Tavares and their great show of sportsmanship and the Black Sheep look forward to the spirit of competition with them in future races.

No one can say it better in capturing the days events than the team themselves...

Yesterday was probably our most successful day since our team was formed. For me personally, it was one of my most rewarding and memorable days, and I have each of you to thank for that. I am so proud to be a part of this team. In some of my emails on our past successes I have singled out lead paddlers, steersman, coaches and team leaders for the successes. Yesterday was a complete team effort. Every member on the roster (plus 1) and those who didn't make it, contributed to our major wins as a team, a gold medal in the Division B championship and the winning of the Senior Cup in our final race. Our hard work this year, particularly on some very cold mornings, paid off handsomely yesterday. A BIG congratulations to each of you individually but especially to each of you as a team. We came together yesterday and it was a wonderful feeling being a part of it. And better days are yet to come. Ray Vail (Co-Captain)

MAJOR CONTRATS ON A GREAT WEEKEND! I feel so lucky to have landed on this team!

Such great spirit, dedication and sportsmanship! Kathy Mantel

What a great day yesterday was!!! A well done to all members of the team. Whether you were able to paddle or not, you all contributed greatly to our success. Mike Mitchell

It was a great weekend because we all came together and bonded as a team and that is truly what makes us a great team...that and TEAM COOKIES:) (And the best Coach.) (And our great Captain who makes the tough decisions.) (And the entire team who paddles their butts off.) (And our great lead paddlers, Mary Lou and Marie who set the right pace and maintained it.) (And the best steersman in the game, Ted and the most adored drummer of them all, Joanne who bangs the drum like no other.) (And all the people who support the team with their behind the scenes efforts...Ray, Chris, Mike Mitchell, JMac.) (And all the team members who did not paddle this time but were there in heart and spirit.) (And Coco..the horse, who keeps it crazy and fun.) (And all our new team members, who have joined our ranks and are dedicated to the Black Sheep's continued success.) (And our supporters, sponsors, friends and family who help keep the boat on the road to success...we appreciate you all!) Susan "Coco" Christiansen

I wanted to thank you for the experience Saturday. What a great way to start my paddling career. It was great. Great team, Great people, Great win. Letting me paddle in the 'B' Championship race was a great privilege and watching ya'll beat out the other Villages teams in the "Senior" race was a great thrill. I want to thank John MacPhee for his steadfast coaching as he sat behind me during both my races -- "REACH", "Drop" .... Thanks man and I will miss that while you're in Jamaica (have fun). Thanks to all for putting up with my numerous mistakes (I learned in the first race that it isn't a good idea to hyperventilate before the race starts!). I have a LOT of work to do in practice to get better. Bill Marsh

Great job but then I never had a doubt that you guys are the best of the best:) . Even though I was not there in body, I was there in spirit. I've always been proud of being a member of the Black Sheep. After taking a swim last year it is very nice to know that you guys took control and won. Allen Stepro


Fellow Black Sheep,

Congratulations one and all on a spectacular day of racing!!! I am so very proud to be a part of this team with so much heart and "true grit." So many people contribute on and off the boat and the various emails that I've been reading have acknowledged those contributions. I can only add my voice to the sentiments everyone else has been expressing. Both Leatherneck teams and the Silver Dragons are terrific competitors and force us to push ourselves to the limits of our capabilities. Admit it--- it wouldn't be as much fun and victory wouldn't taste so sweet if it the wins came too easily. Thank you all for enriching my life in a way I couldn't have imagined just a few short months ago. Joanne Lavoie

Congratulations Black Sheep on a job well done!!! You folks certainly Deserve It!!

Keep it up!! Dennis Faillo

Semper Fi Team, Bob Levenson

2013 Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival-Tavares Race Results

Tavares April 6, 2013 Dragon Boat Senior Championship

Black Sheep in lane #2 from the right.