Story and photos by Douglas Bain (ISN)
August 11, 2013 Victoria, BC (ISN) – 3 Weekends of furious paddling started on Saturday at the Gorge Dragon Boat Festival. This first event hosted by Gorge Rowing and Paddling Club had over 25 teams racing over a 500m course on the Selkirk Waterway.
Involving a crew of 20 per boat, the dragon boating event is fast and full of adrenaline. Although it seems like it, it is not a pure brute strength sprint to the finish line. The short race lasting around 2mins can be split into 3 sections; the start where power is needed to get the boat up to speed, the center section where the finesse of stroke rate and timing is all important to maintain the speed; and the all out leave nothing left in the tank final burst to the finish line that usually has the barrel drummer screaming out the timing to get every last ounce of energy from the paddlers.
GRPC Outta Sight, visually impaired dragon boat team from Victoria charge to the finish in the Mixed White Finals – (Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News)
Snogard Dragonboat drummer shouts out the timing as they cross the line in the Mixed Red Finals – (Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News)
As the days progress the teams are graded into various semi-final and final categories depending on their initial heat timing. This leads to some very close racing by the end of the day as like teams are racing together.
The Goblin Empire, a serious team with a fun outlook and always entertaining, make their way to the start line in the Mixed Blue Final –(Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News
GRPC/VYPC Juniors power up for the last few meters in the Red Mixed Final – (Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News)
But it’s as much about the social scene as it is about competing. There are the serious competitive teams vying for a spot at the National Championships but there are as many or more corporate teams, recreation teams, teams raising awareness for various charities plus a mix of all. Waiting around for their next heat in the ‘paddlers village’ makes the event a very social orientated race and friendly rival competitions between local teams take place both on the water and off.
Blu By U Dragon Boat Team from Nanaimo in the first opening stroke of the Mixed Blue Final – (Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News
Gorging Dragons inch ahead of Blu By U to take first place in the Mixed Blue Final – (Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News)
Back on the water at Gorge Fest, the Gorging Dragons, local Victoria team took first place honors with a fastest course time of 1min 38 seconds in the Mixed Blue final, followed closely by Nanaimo team Blu By U in 1 min 43 seconds.
Pirate Party, an amalgamation of several teams in the final event of the day, the Hemanbrotasticstachedown. A fun race for the coveted Heman trophy and the only all male competitor race of the event – (Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News)
Next weekend, from the 16th to 18th of August will see teams from around the Northwest including several teams from the States competing in the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival held in the Inner Harbor. This is followed by the Canadian National Dragon Boat Championships to be held on Elk Lake, Victoria on the weekend of the 23rd to 25th August.
3 consecutive weekends, 223 teams and over 5000 paddlers – a month of blazing paddles!
Crews relax in the tented village between races – (Photo by Douglas Bain/Island Sports News)