Members of the Flying Dragons Dragonboat team of Penticton were officially launched Wednesday at Skaha Beach. The team of 21 paddlers is comprised of adults with developmental disabilities. In the front row, from left are, Greg Ovenden and Sarah Francis; back, Avery Newton and Ryan Krueger.
By Herald staff
About 400 athletes will be at Skaha Lake Saturday for the Okanagan Super Sprints dragon boat races.
The races involve three, 45-foot long, 850-pound canoes with 20 paddlers pushing themselves to their physical limits over a 250-meter course.
At this distance some of the boats will reach speeds of up to 15 km/h and complete the course in less than a minute.
“It's very exciting racing,” said race director and Penticton Paddling Centre manger, Don Mulhall. “The margin between boats can be measured in hundredths of a second—we’re talking inches separating first, second and third.”
Mulhall said traditional dragon boat racing covers 500 metres but with sprint racing it requires teams to expend all their energy over a shorter distance which leaves no room for error.
The race will begin at about 8 a.m. near the paddling centre and the Skaha Lake Marina, and will continue until the early afternoon.
Also in the afternoon, Mulhall said he’s hoping to introduce the newest dragon boat team, the Flying Dragons of Penticton to participate in an exhibition race. He noted the team may be Canada’s first dragon boat team for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Following the slated exhibition race will be a newly added event called, “Last Team Standing” with teams being drawn at random to race in heats of two.
“This format will see the fastest crew continue racing, and the slower boat be replaced by the next randomly drawn team,” said Mulhall.
The Okanagan Super Sprints are also a Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser. The team raising the highest total will be granted free entry into next year’s event.
For more information call the paddling centre at 1-866-658-6333 or visit www.pentictondragonboat.com.