Dragon boats recruiting now

The dragon boat community in Penticton is ramping up activity preparing for a new season of paddling. 

"It’s a really good time of year for anyone who is looking to try dragon boat, with many different opportunities at all different levels," said Don Mulhall with the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival. 

He said training and racing opportunities take place mostly indoors for the next few weeks until spring weather gets into full swing, but a good way to get started is to sign up for the Penticton Community Centre's four-week "Intro to Dragon Boat" program. 

"Another way to get your feet wet would be to attend one of two free “Come Try Dragon Boat” intro sessions held on May 18 and June 1," Mulhall said. 

Many of Penticton's existing dragon boat teams are looking for new paddlers. Teams vary, with seniors teams, co-ed teams, women's teams and even a breast cancer survivor tea,.m

"The sport of dragon boating is easy to learn, for men and women of all ages, and your level of training determines the level at which you may want to race," Mulhall said. "Local teams train on Skaha Lake weeknights, with some teams training once a week and some choosing twice per week."

Locals train to compete in the Okanagan Super Sprints, June 14 and 15, and the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival, Sept. 7 and 8. The teams also compete at out of town events if they want to. 

"Each team is different, but all will be looking for new members as we begin the season," Mulhall said. 

Dragon boats are 45 feet long and weigh 850 pounds, requiring 20 paddlers in 10 rows plus a drummer and steerperson. Most races are either 250 meters or 500 meters. 

Penticton's Dragon Boat Festival is now in its 19th year and will feature 80 teams and approximately 2,000 athletes, making it the second largest B.C. dragon boat event behind the Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival. 

For more information about joining a paddling team, email Don Mulhall at [email protected] or call him at 250-488-3100. 

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