DBC extends condolences to the family and friends of Adrian Taylor. Adrian was a key figure in the Dragon Boat community in Ontario and the National Team right from the beginning. He touched many many lives and we thought it best to ask one of his oldest and best friends to share some memories of Adrian to mark this sad occasion.
Thank you Jim Farintosh for sharing:
It’s tough for me to write about Adrian Taylor’s legacy in our sport without being personal, as we have been friends for almost 60 years. Our time together spans many chapters of our lives and all of them were wonderful…I’m very grateful for our long time together.
Dragon Boat started in eastern Canada in 1989, but I knew Adrian first in sprint canoeing in the early ‘60s…he paddled in his home town of Burlington at the Mohawk Canoe Club and I was an east end Toronto boy at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club. We started racing against each other as teenagers and by the ‘70s we were racing together as team mates. Cathy and I spent many weekends hanging out with Adrian and his wife Yvonne and our friendship deepened both on and off the water.
I took a break from paddling to try distance running in the late ‘70s and after 8 years Adrian got me back in the boat in 1985 when we raced in the World Masters Games together in C2. Adrian went on to win over 30 Masters national championships in sprint, with C2 being our favorite race. He was a natural athlete and loved to compete. A simple fact…without that push back into paddling I probably would not have ever found out about this new sport called dragon boat four years later. In 2001 Adrian and I started the national senior team for the first time and I still have the manila envelope with the names of people we approached to form the first crew. Later that summer in Philadelphia.Adrian was part of the first-ever world champion crew for Canada in any division when we won the 1000m…a special moment. Over the next decade he won another 14 world titles as a paddler.
Adrian soon became a fixture at the Outer Harbour Dragon Boat Club as he paddled with the Mayfair Predators and started coaching the club women’s senior program. He soon graduated to being the National Senior Women’s coach and built a record of success culminating in the sweep of all distances at the worlds in Sydney in 2007. The long record of success of the Senior A women’s program has continued to this day and has been built on the bedrock foundation established by Adrian.
Adrian made many friends in paddling and always had time for a beer and a chat. Even as he had health challenges he still continued to coach and many people greatly benefitted from his passion for our sport. He was no-nonsense and sometimes a bit gruff, but he cared. That fact was obvious to anyone who knew him and he was admired for his courage in fighting for purpose and dignity as a waterman as long as possible in his life. We used to go out in OC2 a fair bit and he really enjoyed doing something that was as natural to him as breathing, even as life became more difficult.
For the past number of years I tried to visit Adrian every Sunday at Chester Village in Toronto and even as his ability to communicate waned I always felt that I could see a sign of his delight in having a continued connection to his paddling roots with those visits. I would talk to him about current events and share paddling war stories and sometimes I would get a smile or a nod which helped me believe his spirit was still strong. His light shone as bright as possible as long as possible…I should have smuggled in a few beers!
Adrian was the brother I never had and I will miss him…let it run, buddy.