"There are so many opportunities to get out and paddle, and train to compete. We have women's teams, mixed teams, senior's teams and a junior program. And we're always looking for new recruits", says Don Mulhall, Centre Manager for Go Rowing and Paddling - a not-for-profit organization that runs the dragon boat program and organizes the Raymond James Penticton Dragon Boat Festival.
The two similar disciplines of dragon boat and outrigger allow new members to choose from a variety of races of different lengths, some local, some as distant as you can imagine. Dragon boating is a sprint-type of racing, with events held over one or two days, usually including several races of anywhere from 250 m to 500 m in length. Dragon boats race with 20 paddlers, a steerer and a drummer.
Outrigger canoeing embraces both sprinting and longer distance events, with different boats designed to hold 1, 2 or 6 paddlers. The longer distance races are anywhere from 30 minutes long up to several hours. The sprint races are similar in length to dragon boat, but some involve a turn around a buoy.
"With such easy access to our beautiful lakes, it's a perfect chance to get out and try a sport that's easy to learn, and then the sky is the limit for how far (and how fast) you want to go", says Mulhall,
"this is a sport that the average person - male or female – can participate in, and achieve some level of success. It's also a very social atmosphere".
The paddling information meeting is being held this Thursday, April 7th at 6:30 pm at the Salvation Army Community Church, 2469 South Main Street (behind the Barley Mill). For more information call Don Mulhall at (250) 488-3100.
Go Rowing and Paddling Association of Canada is a non-profit Amateur Athletic Association, and Registered Charity, dedicated to developing rowing and paddling sports in Canada.
The Okanagan Super Sprints is on July 2 and the Raymond James Penticton Dragon Boat Festival is on September 9 to 11, 2011. For more information, visit www.gorowandpaddle.org/events