Dragon boats sprint to fast times

Thunder storm warnings threatened the 2013 Okanagan Super Sprints at Skaha Lake.

MEMBERS of the Penticton Survivorship team ply the waters of Skaha Lake Saturday against the competition at the sixth annual Okanagan Super Sprints dragon boat races.

MEMBERS of the Penticton Survivorship team ply the waters of Skaha Lake Saturday against the competition at the sixth annual Okanagan Super Sprints dragon boat races.

Thunder storm warnings threatened the 2013 Okanagan Super Sprints at Skaha Lake.

After race officials constantly monitored Environment Canada weather info and made the decision to go ahead when it was clear, 11 teams, including teams from Osoyoos and Kelowna, had three opportunities to test their sprint speed on a course half the length of a typical dragon boat race.

Fastest time of the day set in early heats was one minute and seven seconds. Race times slowed during the day as steer people of the 15 metre long, 390 kilogram boats worked hard to keep them accelerating with an increase in the wind. The fastest women’s time in the finals was Despirit Housewives, edging second place, Dragon in the Drink, by less than half a second. Penticton’s Dragon Bottoms were third. Local favourite Peach City Dragons went into the final race ranked the fastest mixed team, but ended up in second place behind Red Hot Chili Paddlers.

In a fun final, men from all the mixed teams combined for a men’s race, with one crew racing the clock for a time of one minute, nine seconds – the fastest time of all the finals despite most of the paddlers having never raced together. Organizer Don Mulhall said the local teams performed better than expected.

“It was great racing,” he said of the day. “The semi’s was close. It was designed that way for an exciting finish.”

The race was also a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy. Paddlers and supporters helped raise close to $3,000, adding to the over $10,000 raised so far.