Okanagan sprints expected to be speedy attraction

Nearly 400 paddlers will be at Skaha Lake for the Okanagan Super Sprints June 30.

Nearly 400 paddlers will be at Skaha Lake for the Okanagan Super Sprints June 30.

Starting at 8 a.m. spectators can watch from the beach as teams of 20 strive to be the first to complete the 250 metre challenge. The action will go until early afternoon.

“It’s very exciting racing. The margin between boats can be measured in hundredths of a second — we’re talking inches separating first, second and third,” said race director and Paddling Centre manager Don Mulhall, who added the speeds of the 850-pound canoes reach up to 15 kilometres per hour. “Dragon boat racing is a sprint, with the usual distance being 500-m. When you shorten the race to 250-m, teams get a chance to practice everything about racing but at a higher level of effort, with less room for error.”

Weather permitting, after the official racing, organizers are hoping to introduce Penticton’s (and possibly Canada’s) first dragon boat team for individuals with developmental disabilities in an exhibition race.  Then comes the newly added “Last Team Standing” competition, with teams being drawn at random to race in heats of two boats. This format will see the fastest crew continue racing.

The Okanagan Super Sprints have been a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy for three years now and teams and the public are encouraged to donate, with the highest fundraising team given entry into next year’s event.

For more information about how you can get involved, call the Penticton Paddling Center at 1-866 658-6333, or go to www.pentictondragonboat.com. To learn more about muscular dystrophy, visit www.muscle.ca.