Dragon boating in Quesnel

Liz-Anne Eyford provides a short history of Quesnel's dragon boat team and encourages others to consider joining

Quesnel's Dragon Boat team is always looking for new participants.

Back in the winter of 2008, Sylvia Graham and a few others decided that Quesnel needed a Dragon boat. An old practice boat was acquired from Kamloops and the paddling began. Weighing about 700 kg, this 17-metre boat took some effort to get moving but, thankfully, the power of 20 paddlers had us plowing through the waves.

For the first two years, we kept the boat on Dragon Lake courtesy of Tom and Cathy Briggs. Trooping through their yard each practice, we swarmed their dock and took to the lake with so much to learn.

Our mentors, Sarah Shipley and Carolyn Draginov, were ladies with experience to share. We also had several members of the Prince George team NorthBreast Passage. We learned the ‘sewing machine stroke’, developed good timing and have continued to learn ever since.  We were a keen bunch of novices who had sore backs and arms every night but we eventually learned that using the core was so much wiser and safer.

In the spring of 2009, we hosted our first clinic and that September we traveled to the Penticton regatta. What a great time. We raced hard in a foreign, lighter, fibreglass boat. Those boats felt so tippy compared to our tank.  The regatta was so much fun that the team has returned nearly every year since.

Sadly, Sylvia never had a chance to paddle.  Soon after the boat arrived she was diagnosed with advanced cancer and needed to put her energies towards that fight. Sylvia passed away in early 2011 but her spirit paddles on.

For two years, Robert’s Roost graciously allowed us docking privileges.  From there, the enthusiasm has continued to grow and in 2013 we acquired a new fibreglass boat. Now with two very long boats we needed to find a dedicated site and fortunately we will call Pioneer Park home.  During this past winter, a boat house was constructed and will soon become the Dragon’s lair.

But until the new boat house is ready, we’ll launch from Cathy’s dock on Beach Crescent. To meet all desires, a competitive group that seeks to develop strength and endurance will paddle on Mondays and a recreational group that wants to have fun on the lake will hopefully have both boats out on Wednesdays.

We have paddles and lifejackets to borrow and team gear if you are keen.

Your first time trying this sport will be free, you can drop in on Wednesdays or you can sign up for the year for reasonable cost.

The club has shared the sport with several elementary classes and we look forward to continuing these introductions.

We welcome anyone who wants to paddle and we aspire to creating a mixed team and to working with a junior group.

If you would like more information, email dragonlakepaddlers@mail.com or visit our Facebook site at Quesnel-Canoe-Club

As well, paddlers will be at the Farmer’s Market each Saturday in May if you would like to chat with someone.

– submitted by

Liz-Anne Eyford

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