Paddlers will push for a quick finish

Skaha Lake will be rippling Saturday as dragon boats race 250 metres heats during the Okanagan Super Sprints.

Skaha Lake will be rippling Saturday as dragon boats race 250 metres heats during the Okanagan Super Sprints.

The action gets paddling at 8 a.m. and wraps up in the early afternoon. Paddling in boats 13.7-m long, teamwork helps the boat reach speeds of 15 kilometres an hour, reaching the finish line in about 60 seconds.

“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 Penticton Paddling Centre manager Don Mulhall. “Dragon boat racing is a sprint, with the usual distance being 500-m. When you cut that in half, teams get a chance to practice everything about racing but at a higher level of effort with less room for error.”

Nearly 300 athletes will compete. Spectators can watch the race from the beach as it begins near the marina. Weather and time permitting after the official racing, organizers are hoping to facilitate a last team standing competition with teams being drawn at random to compete in heats of two. This format will see the fastest crew continue racing and the slower boat be replaced by the next randomly drawn team. This event has also been a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy for four years where teams and the public are encouraged to donate. The team who raises the most money is given entry into next year’s event.

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