By Evelyn von Almassy–Valerie Hayes’s call for people interested in Dragon Boat racing has stirred up much excitement. The Village of Queen Charlotte has $35,000 from the Millennium Fund to buy the boats. That covers the cost to have two built, the steering oar and the scale decals. With luck, they could arrive on-island by mid-July.
A Dragon Boat Society needs to be formed, (one volunteer is already looking into the paperwork that requires) which would take responsibility for these boats. Its members (one would need to be one in order to use the boats) would engage in fund-raising, and seek donations and services in kind. This would be for the insurance, moorage costs, PFD’s, paddles, and a custom rope, required to keep the people and the boats safe.
Prince Rupert, which has a boat, is already very interested in competing with us. There could be local regattas, there are competitions across Canada, and we could also participate in international regattas. Our boats would stay home and all we would need are our paddles and life jackets, as well as our energy and positive teamwork. Imagine travelling to Australia to represent Haida Gwaii? It can happen if you want it to!
It takes between 22-24 people to paddle one of these boats; the coach sets the pace and synchronizes the paddling. The sport is open to all, regardless of physical fitness or experience. I would invite everyone to check out www.dragonboatcanada. There is an international federation, and dragon boat racing has recently been accepted as a legitimate sport, on par with canoeing, rowing and sailing. Check out the Rowing and Paddling Organization of Canada at www.gorowandpaddle.org You can sign up for their newsletters there.
There could be many teams made up to use the dragon boats; work site groups, family groups, mixed groups. This is open to men, women, and youth. If you are not physically able to participate, each team needs a counter/coach.
Thanks to Valerie Hayes for her vision. Any interested people are invited to attend the next meeting, at 7:00 pm, Thursday, June 21 at Queen B’s. Tell your friends, neighbours and co-workers. We look forward to a large gathering.
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