Dragon boats speedy on Skaha Lake

14th annual Penticton Dragon Boat Festival brings out best in teams

Penticton’s 14th annual Dragon Boat Festival brought out the best in its teams.

While windy conditions forced the cancellation of Sunday afternoon’s final events, organizer Don Mulhall said there was “pretty good” racing. With teams being placed into different divisions based on their results,  racing improved with dragon boat teams of similar speeds matched against each other.

“It was as good as it gets,” said Mulhall, adding that weather conditions were perfect on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Lynn Allin and Bre Symchuck of the Penticton Dragon Bottoms, who had just finished racing Saturday commented on the event.

“It was amazing,” said Allin. “The water was beautiful, the start was great and the wind wasn’t too bad.”

Symchuck said it’s difficult to know how much the wind would affect paddling, but she said it really wasn’t a factor for their team.

The top mixed team was Victoria’s Fairway Gorge United. Top women’s team went to Kelowna  KDBC Dragon in the Drink. Top breast cancer survivor team is the North Shore Dragon Busters. Top Penticton Mixed Team O’Kai I’kicka U’as, while Despirit Housewives earned the nod for Penticton’s top women’s team. Penticton’s Survivorship team finished second in the breast cancer survivor challenge.

Winner of the greatest steersperson challenge was Penticton Golden Dragons’ Harvey Quamme.

Mulhall, who coaches Survivorship and the Flying Dragons, said it was tough for Penticton’s teams to squeak into the top. The Flying Dragons, competing in exhibition races, had improved times, and as coach, Mulhall said he couldn’t ask for more.

As for the paddlers response to the cancellations, Mulhall said they weren’t upset.

“Before I could really even announce it, a spontaneous beach dance party just erupted … around the announcer’s table,” said Mulhall, who thanked his volunteers for their support. “Hundreds of people all dancing. It just speaks to the vibe of our festival. I think teams are just there obviously to race and be competitive, but they are also there because it’s a good time.”

Mulhall estimated 2,300 paddlers along with 73 teams participating from throughout the B.C. Interior, Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Alberta.