Penticton hosted the eighth annual Okanagan Super Sprints dragon boat races under near perfect weather conditions.
A record 23 teams and nearly 600 athletes competed on the waters of Skaha Lake over the weekend. Each team raced three times with the combined time of the first two races advancing teams into mixed and women’s finals.
Despirit Housewives, the top local women’s team, advanced to the A final ranked third and beat the top-ranked Dragonfire from Kelowna by less than a second. Their winning time of one minute was the fastest women’s time of the day.
Peach City Dragons, the top Penticton mixed team, took second in the A final in 58.6 seconds. They were less than half a second behind High Frequency from Kelowna. Local women’s teams Dragon Bottoms and 22 in Sync won the women’s B and C finals, respectively.
The Okanagan Super Sprints began as a way for local teams to practice racing over a shorter distance early in the season to prepare for the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival – one of the largest in B.C. – held in September. The sprints are also a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Penticton, with $16,000 raised over the past five years. This year’s donations were still being totaled, but are expected to push the five-year total close to $20,000.
Teams attending came from throughout the valley, and from as far away as Richmond and Kamloops. The four-boat finals saw some of the closest racing of the day, with crews edging out the competition by tenths of a second.
To become a paddler, start your own team, or for more information about the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival, go to www.pentictondragonboat.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.