Another Penticton Dragon Boat Festival is in the books, and race director Don Mulhall said it was a resounding success.
“People loved it and they say that it’s their favourite festival and their sort of end-of-season wrap-up. Lots of teams from all over say that they look forward to this race every year,” said Mulhall, who coaches the Penticton Dragon Boat Club.
The Peach City Dragons placed third in the Mixed Platinum A final with a time of 2:12.19, meaning they raced against the three other fastest mixed teams. Despirit Housewives finished third in the Women’s Platinum A final with a time of 2:23.77.
Mulhall said both Survivorship and 22 n Sync outperformed their usual times, finishing third and fourth in the Women’s Diamond B final with times of 2:26.48 and 2:32.23, respectively.
Survivorship also took first in the Breast Cancer Challenge on day two, a significant accomplishment for the team celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Mulhall noted attendance for this year’s festival was slightly lower than in years past.
“We did see kind of a decrease this year, which seems to be across the board for every event we attended or looked into,” said Mulhall. “Everybody’s numbers are down just a little bit.”
He said with many B.C. teams attending the International Dragon Boat Federation’s 14th World Championship in Thailand in late August, it may have been harder for teams to get organized for other events around the same time, such as the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival.
The weather also proved slightly challenging for racers, with strong winds on Saturday and then cooler temperatures and some rain on Sunday.
“There were definitely challenges with the wind on Saturday, but we got all of the racing done. I think some teams actually enjoy when it gets rough like that because it just adds another element when you’re racing somewhere like False Creek in Vancouver,” said Mulhall. “Lots of teams embraced it, and I’m always worried that people are going to be freaked out because of the waves. But then I’m listening and people were talking like, ‘Oh my god, did you see that one wave?’ and ‘So and so got hit in the face that wave was so big!’ and so they seem to be having fun.”
Mulhall credited the volunteers and event personnel on and off the water for the festival’s overall success.
He said looking forward, the challenge will be to make next year’s festival bigger and better for the 20th celebration.
“We want to make it a big event. We really feel like it’s important to celebrate 20 years of a locally-organized and grown festival,” said Mulhall. “We have been kind of holding steady at 80 teams, and we’ve been thinking that we’d like to go up from there. So we’re going to put a lot of effort towards making it a big event all the way around.”
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