Furlong Bay provided the perfect setting for the closing dragon boat race of the year, but a little wind had a few racers puzzled as they crossed the finish line to decide the victors of the ninth annual Lakelse Dragon Boat Regatta.
“When you’re coming to the finish line, you’re aiming to go between two buoys, but the two buoys don’t necessarily stay in one place; they move around with the wind,” said Prince Rupert Rainbow Warrior dragon boat team member, Cheryl Paavola.
“So when you’re coming in, you can’t tell from the boat which team won. The timers on shore have a different perspective from everybody else. We thought we had won but we weren’t sure. It was so close.”
The Rainbow Warriors’ 27 members were just one team of nine competing, including groups from Terrace, Quesnel, Smithers and Kitimat.
Within the “B” division, the Rainbow Warriors took the silver, finishing just a second behind the Tyhee Lake Dragons and ahead of the Kitimat Free Spirit.
“Our first race was our fastest race and that [time] was 1:19.1,” said Paavola.
But the real treat was the atmosphere and experience of the summer’s closing race, said the paddler.
“It didn’t matter who won, it was such a beautifully-done race. There was nothing we could have done better.”
In addition to the races, the Lakelse Dragons put on the “Ladies of the Lake” Mix-Up race, where all the women of each team can put their name in to compete in a boat with randomly-assigned female members from different clubs.
“It’s so much fun to paddle with a group of women, I had one of the young ones from Kitimat say to me she paddles on … a mostly male team … and to feel all that power knowing it’s just women [pushing the boat along] is amazing,” said Paavola.
Even better, the prize for winning the mix-up race is champagne and chocolate.
“I kept telling people that had never been there before, you’ve got to go in this race … the other races has trophies. This has the good prize,” she added.