With contingency plans in place for wildfire smoke, organizers of the 18th annual Penticton Dragon Boat Festival had not planned for Sunday afternoon’s high winds.
“I think we need to build a breakwater or a smaller lake,” joked Don Mulhall, who has looked after race management for the nearly two decades the event has been running. “Saturday was perfect, morning and afternoon, Sunday morning it was even more beautiful, even sunnier and glassier and then the wind came up.”
Prior to the races contingency plans even included holding the festival indoors at the Penticton Lakeside Resort’s conference centre (free of charge) using ergometers that would simulate rowing for the nearly 2,000 paddlers.
However they were able to get in the semi’s Sunday morning along with the breast cancer survivor race just before noon and few of the other finals but were forced to cancel the last 11 of the 81 weekend races just after 1 p.m.
According to Mulhall, all the teams had been able to get in three races and using the times and data from those, organizers were able to determine the winners for the races that were not run.
“They (participants) were honestly, fine with it,” he said. “I think they recognized that we, the race organizers, absolutely wanted the race to go ahead and we were doing everything we could but safety trumps everything and we just didn’t feel we could put on a safe event out there. Everybody was happy that we made the decision based on keeping everybody safe.
“Here’s the cool thing, I think our festival, it’s fun, it’s competitive, it’s one of the teams’ favourite events and at some point everybody’s dancing on the beach and having a really good time.”
One of the more sombre moments of the weekend happened Sunday following the breast cancer survivor race.
Paddlers sitting in their boats waved pink carnations in time with the music before tossing them into the shallow waters of Skaha Lake in memory of those who did not survive their battle with breast cancer.
Again competitors from B.C. and Alberta took part in what is one of Penticton’s largest sporting events of the year and one of the province’s biggest dragon boat festivals.
“People were really happy, we heard a lot of nice things about the festival and all in all it was a great weekend,” said Mulhall who is already working on plans for the 2019 festival on the weekend of Sept. 7 and 8.
In the final results, Penticton’s Survivorship team had a strong showing on the weekend, winning the breast cancer challenge race and picking up second in the women’s gold final A event.
Other results saw the Skaha Underdogs finishing first in the mixed gold B final with the Penticton Golden Dragons winding up fourth.
The Dragons (women’s entry) were also fourth in the women bronze A final.
Another local team, the Hidden Dragon, Crouching Cougars was second in the women’s gold B final and the Despirit Housewives were third in the women’s platinum B final.
For a complete list of results go to https://pentictondragonboat.com.