The Penticton Dragon Boat Festival (PDBF), held the second week of September on Skaha Lake, has just wrapped up it’s 16th year of great racing with one of Penticton’s largest sporting events and festivals.
This year saw 87 teams, with over 2,200 paddlers. Logistically speaking, that’s four boats of 22 people loading, while another four boats are racing. Ninety races held over the two days makes for a fabulous spectator-friendly event, with a new race starting every 10 minutes.
Festival attendees include teams from all over Alberta, Northern B.C., the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. Teams love this festival for a number of reasons — the climate, the scenery, the competition, the volunteers and the race site itself. Many teams make the PDBF the big season-ending event their teams train for all year.
(read more on the event here:Festival attracts quick teams)
The sport of dragon boat is popular around the world. Adopted as the sport of choice for breast cancer survivors, it has also become very popular with men and women, with corporate teams becoming a great way for staff to get together, be social, goal-oriented and get some fitness at the same time in a beautiful location. Not to mention most bigger festivals have a beverage garden.
One of the sport’s greatest benefits is it’s “approachability.”
It doesn’t require any special equipment to get started as most paddling centres supply lifejackets and paddles. Of course as you get better, you’re going to want to have the lightest, fastest, coolest equipment, and all that is available. It’s very much a team sport, in that you have to paddle in rhythm with your teammates. You don’t necessarily have to be the strongest, you just have to be in sync.
We live in a unique, beautiful city surrounded by lakes. If ever there were a sport designed for Penticton it would be paddling. There are lots of opportunities to get out on the water. Penticton has several women’s teams, a mixed team, a seniors team, and there’s always room for new teams with the sport growing in popularity. Most teams will be back on the water in April/May of 2017, but lots are continuing to recruit and train over the winter. And finally, much of this couldn’t happen without our volunteers and sponsors.
Don Mulhall is the race director for the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival