Organizer hopes for paddling growth

Paddling organization changes in Penticton, while opportunity for participant growth exists

PENTICTON PADDLING teams hit the waters of Skaha Lake last week eager to get their season started.

PENTICTON PADDLING teams hit the waters of Skaha Lake last week eager to get their season started.

Penticton’s paddling community is going through a change.

Go Rowing and Paddling Association of Canada (GO), a not-for-profit organization, transferred its interest to Don Mulhall and Launa Maundrell. The change occurred after the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival bought GO’s Victoria Centre. Mulhall said once that happened, GO couldn’t exist as it was the administrative centre for regions in B.C. Since then, Mulhall and his wife have scrambled to take over operations and established the newly created not-for-profit Penticton Dragon Boat Festival Society. They purchased equipment to keep the local events going. Everything involving paddling will now be locally organized. Mulhall added that money raised by different paddling centers went to GO so they could distribute it evenly do other regions such as Penticton for different uses.

“We invest it back into Penticton paddling,” said Mulhall.

There will be no changes to the schedule. Penticton will host the Okanagan Super Sprints on June 28 and the Raymond Jams Dragon Boat Festival on Sept. 6-7.

Mulhall is excited about the season because teams are established and said some are branching out to festivals outside the city.

“I think stuff like that is great,” said Mulhall.

Mulhall, who has been a paddling coach for 14 years, said there is more opportunity for local teams and he would like to get more Penticton residents paddling. He pointed out that the Dragon Boat Festival attracts 80 to 90 teams, 10 of them being local. He feels it could be more.

Last week nearly a dozen teams hit the water to get ready for their seasons.

Anyone curious about the sport can have their chance to try for free on May 24 at 10 a.m. The Paddling Club, in conjunction with the Survivorship Team and Skaha Ford are hosting a Fun and Fitness Festival at the Skaha boat house next to the Penticton Marina. Local water sports will be offering free sessions in dragon boats, outrigger canoes and stand up paddle boards. Skaha Ford will have new car and truck models on site and for every test drive will donate $20 to Survivorship’s team.

Food and entertainment will also be available and members from all the teams will be available to explain their goals, requirements and schedules. Newcomers should be able to find a match between their fitness levels and can start learning the sport immediately. It is recommended that people wear close that won’t bother them if it gets wet.