Happy Earth Day… we celebrated on our dragon boat practice for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, by recognizing some of the aquatic and environmental highlights of False Creek. We talked about some of the ways False Creek has been cleaned up since the 1970’s, and how the Expo 86 site made a big difference. We pointed out where Sweeney’s Barrels used to be and is now Cooper’s Park. The first dragon boats were donated by the Hong Kong Pavillion, and on display for the festival in what is now the Yaletown habour. False Creek used to be all industry with mills, factories, etc – but now it has been cleaned up to the point that herring eggs … and oysters… are now alive in False Creek.
Gung Haggis paddlers had lots of smiles on last Sunday’s practice. Four of our five practices have had sunshine… pretty lucky! Hillary and Anne took on lead stroke duties. We had two brand new paddlers Florian and Tara, who did really well. They did so well, we had them paddling the boat by themselves at the end of the practice. – photo Todd Wong
Our practices are Sundays 11am – 1pm, and Wednesdays 6pm to 7:30pm. 2012 is our teams’ 15th anniversary since starting as Celebration Team, and the 10th anniversary after being renamed Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. Over the years, we have won dragon boat race medals in Vancouver, Vernon, Victoria, Richmond, Seattle, Portland, and Bamff. We have also won the Hon. David Lam Award for being the team that best represents the spirit of multiculturalism at Vancouver’s Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, and also the Community Spirit Award at the Lotus Sports Club regatta in Burnaby.
– photo by Lisa Venables on Dave Samis' camera
Gung Haggis paddlers paddle neck and neck against each other in the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta on Oct 8th 2011. Both teams are battling for 3rd place in the B Division Final, trying to pull ahead of each other for bragging rights over each other. Both teams finished in the top half of 24 teams, finishing 11th and 12th overall. The Gung Haggis Flying Cranberries on the left had 4 rookies and and was anchored by seasoned paddling friends from the Eye of the Dragon team. The Gung Haggis Firey Chili boat on the right had some of our more experienced paddlers with 2 rookies, combined with experienced paddling friends. It was an exciting race final that celebrated the friendship of beginner and veteran paddlers, helping and supporting each other, in one of our favorite races of the year.
I am very proud and happy with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. It has been 10 years since the inception of the team in 2002. Back then we only did two races a year, the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival and its regatta two weeks preceding. The team had initially begun as the Celebration Team in 1997 which I had also founded and coached, and was renamed in 2002 because: 1) to give the team a new bring more sense of identity with multiculturalism and 2) bring more recognition to the fledgling Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team finished the last paddling event of the year last week with a paddle down Harrison River from Harrison Hot Springs.
We started paddling in March – following the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Dinner – which the team is named after. Both created by Coach Todd Wong, to celebrate multiculturalism. The dinner does it with poetry, music and food. We celebrate by paddling and eating
We paddled on Burrard Inlet for the Lotus Club regatta. It is a tradition for us to start our season by racing in May at the Barnet Marine Park. My first-ever dragon boat practice in 1993, was here at the Lotus Club as a spare paddler for the Headliners dragon boat team. I am always glad to support the Lotus Club, and we have many friends at Lotus. Too bad, the weather was so wet and rainy that we could not bring out our Chinese dragon and lion for ceremonial dances.
We practiced in False Creek 2X week – Sunday 11am and Wed 6pm
Debbie (black shirt and red tartan head band) leads warm-up at the big Rio TintoAlcan drago boat festival in Jun. Debbie started as one of our youngest paddlers, and is now an assistant coach and team leader. We raced in the Rec E Final for medals, and came a very close 4th – just missing a medal by split seconds.
We had 3 paddlers from France on our team: Anne, Leo and Alice. Beside me in a red team shirt is Aidan, this season's rookie of the year – male.
We went to the Steveston Dragon Boat Festival in August. It was the hottest day yet of a damp
cold summer, and 37
dragon boat teams came to Steveston to enjoy the balmy 25 degree
the sea. The 2nd annual
Steveston Dragon Boat Festival was set at the Britannia Historic
just East of Steveston Village. After 3 races, we came 3rd in the C Division Consolation.
– photo Deb Martin
We always enter two teams at the Ft. Langley Canoe Regatta for Cranberry Festival. Gung Haggis Fiery Chilis had some of our veteran paddlers and paddling friends. Steered by Todd Wong (myself), and captained by lead stroke Karl Castillo. 2nd seat is Michelle and Dave, 3rd seat is Carly and Tracey (both from Flight Centre team), 4th seat is Aidan and Steve, 5th seat is Remus and Caroline.
– photo Deb Martin
Gung Haggis Flying Cranberries was steered by steered by our friend Harvey, and anchored by Johnny and Maggie in seat 5 – all from the Eye of the Dragon team. It was captained by lead stroke Debbie. 2nd seat is Xavier and Keng, 3rd seat is Sara and Gerard (in Sara's first race), 4th seat is Leo and Christian (both promising rookies).
Both teams smile together for a picture with our additional paddlers Lisa Venables – photo Deb Martin
We dressed up for a Halloween's Eve Day paddle to Granville Island
– photo Dave Samis on Todd Wong's camera
Deb and Debbie had big smiles, as the paddled down the Harrison River on Nov 27th, Grey Cup Sunday. It was our last official paddling event of the season. Last year, some of our paddlers joined me on some of the final days of the 5 day “Paddle for Wild Salmon” from Hope to Vancouver. We wanted to recognize the salmon migrations on the Harrison River, and the bald eagles that feed on them. Our idea was to paddle and drift pass the eagles feeding on the spawned out salmon – but we ran into a strong headwind that slowed down our travel speed. After paddling almost 4 km, we turned back to the Harrison Lake. “A grand failure” was what rookie paddler Xavier called it, while we ate dinner in Agassiz while watching the 2nd half of the Grey Cup Football Game.
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team paddles Sunday
Karl and Steven hold up dragon boat paddles on Halloween Eve Day. Karl paddled with the mask for most of the practice.
11am Sunday from Dragon Zone
False Creek Community Centre
We are continuing to paddle for fun and fitness – on Sundays throughout November. I am also hoping to set up a paddle in voyageur canoes down the Harrison River or Fraser River from Hope to Chilliwack – so that we may see some of the spawning salmon, and the eagles who feed on them. Our last competitve race was on Oct 8, for the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta. But last year some of our paddlers joined me for Day 4 & 5 of the “Paddle for Wild Salmon” down the Fraser River from Hope to Vancouver. It was a 5 day journey to Jericho Beach – and while I started from Hope on Day 1, I skipped day 2 and 3, for work, then returned for Day 4 and 5, from the Katzie First Nations Reserver near the Golden Ears Bridge, all the way to New Westminster and Musqueam First Nations. Day 5 we paddled from Musqueam, around Point Grey, and we landed at Jericho Beach.
had a fantastic rain-less paddle last Sunday… A number of people
messaged because they didn't want to paddle in the rain or cold.
But the rain stopped!!!
strong men, Karl, Aidan, Stephen Mirowski, Steven Wong, Guillaume and
Todd – paddled non-stop from Dragon Zone to Granville St. Bridge. We
even paddled past Burrard St. Bridge and did a little stop at Sunset
Beach… before going for hot chocolate at Granville Island, courtesy of
Stephen Mirowski who had his wallet with him. Aidan steered dragon
boat for his first time ever on the way back from Cambie Bridge to
Dragon Zone – GREAT PRACTICE!!!
11am is practice time – Yes we still show up rain or shine – the only thing that keeps us off the boat is
high winds… and if there is a monsoon… but we decide at the time of practice.
Hope to see you out paddling for Sunday –
weather looks rainless for now!
CONGRATULATIONS to ALL GUNG HAGGIS paddlers
in our TWO teams at Ft. Langley
– Gung Haggis Fantastic Cranberry Chasers
– Gung Haggis Fiery Chili Eaters
Standing back row Gerard, Steve, Aidan, Remus, Maggie (tartan green hat) Johnny, Xavier, Todd and Sara
Middle standing Carly (black shirt), Keng, Lisa (neon green hat), Dave, Michelle, Tracey
front row kneeling, Harvey, Debbie, Caroline, Karl.
was an incredible sprint to the finish after the last turn, following
the beach landing in the Pumpkin Final. Neck & neck – both Gung
Haggis teams trading leads… Wow… Officially, the score card says
Gung Haggis Fantastic Cranberries won… by milliseconds…
Gung Haggis Fiery Chillis leading the B Final Race after the first turn. We were the first team under the bridge after grabbing our pumpkin.
of 24 teams, we were 11th and 12th – in the top half…. and that is a
good thing… bragging rights over 12 other teams… and respect to 10
other teams above us.
So please raise a glass to the rookie paddles:
First race ever – Sara
2nd races ever Xavier, Leo, Christian
other First year paddlers Aidan, Caroline,
experienced guest paddlers racing 1st time at Ft. Langley – Carly, Tracey, Michelle, Johnny Toi
experienced repeat guest paddlers @ Ft. Langley, Remus, Lisa,
Harvey & Maggie
experienced Gung Haggis paddles racing Cranberry for first time, Sabina
experienced Gung Haggis repeat paddlers at Ft. Langley, Karl, Steve S., Debbie, Keng, Gerard, Dave S., Todd
Harvey is steering, Johnny and Maggie in row 5, Leo and Christian in row 4, Sara and Gerard in row 3, Xavier and Keng in row 2, Debbie is lead stroke and captain in row 1.
Todd is steering – right side from rear Remus, Aidan, Carly, Michelle, left side paddlers from rear Caroline, Steve, Tracey, Dave – Karl is lead stroke in seat one.
Special thanks to our captains Debbie Poon & Karl Castillo
Special thanks to our steers – Harvey Doucet, Dave Samis & Todd Wong (me)
please send pictures – especially send us links to posted pictures…
Deb will post pictures to my flickr account…
Remember – no practice tomorrow – take Sunday off on race weekend
See you next Sunday Oct 16 – we will have dim sum lunch following practice
We will keep paddling on Sundays 11am until Nov 13 Remembrance Day weekend.
NO MORE Wednesday evening paddles…
Gung Haggis paddlers in boat 8, chat it up with another team in boat 5 – at the start line of the Pumpkin chasing final heat, of the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta – photo T.Wong
The Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta is one of the favorite events of the year for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. There are no medals. No huge crowds of cheering fans. But lots of cameraderie, and a fun obstacle race. The first two races are double ovals. The Pumpkin Final, is super fun. 10 boats will line up across the Fraser River slough, then start racing for the bridge. Pumpkins will be dropped from the bridge. Each team has to pick up one pumpkin, then proceed under the bridge. Race 500m up river and make a sharp turn at the buoy marker. Return under the bridge and make a right turn around a buoy on the south shore. Proceed to the North side and drop a paddler off at the beach. The paddler will balance a cup of cranberry juice, and walk 50 feet up the beach, where they will climb back into the canoe. The Canoe travels back around the buoy on the south shore, then heads back under the bridge to the other side to cross the finish line.
10 voyageur canoes race towards the pumpkins! – photo T.Wong
We have had great
practices over the past 2 weeks, often running two 10-person Swift
boats, or other boats side by side… doing turns and sprint starts.
This is all preparation for the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe
We are racing in 10 person voyageur canoes
have 12 people on each team – so there will be 2 spares per race.
people will do 2 races each, and 6 people will do 3 races each.
is a good strategy because: some people want a rest… while others
might get sick, or lost… and some people cheer the team on and take
pictures! We would rather have two extra persons as spares, rather than
paddle with 8 people and have to do more work.
Watch these videos – by
clicking on the icons – to see what happens at the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta
Haggis is #1 on the far side.
Watch teams paddle backwards because they missed the pumpkin!
landing – then somebody climbs out of the boat, and runs down the beach
holding a cup of cranberry juice on their paddle
See all the photo sets from from past
this Sunday's practice time – September 25th.
We moved it one hour
early… to help accommodate people attending Word On the Street and
World Rivers Day events…
10am – we meet
– the boat leaves the dock (which is only 30 minutes before we normally
12 noon – back on dryland
We had a GREAT practice on Wed Night
– hardly any rain at all! only light sprinkles at the beginning then
it stopped completely…
We simulated the pumpkin final race for
Ft. Langley – our lead strokes Debbie and Karl grabbed imaginary
pumpkins and took turns being the single lead stroke in the boat. We
practiced turns, and beach landings. I even jumped out of the boat onto
the shore, at one point.
only 4 practices left
Ft. Langley Cranberry
Festival Canoe Regatta
Another Busy Sunday coming up:
Street Festival – 12pm – 5pm
I have to be there for booths for
Kogawa House and Ricepaper Magazine
World Rivers Day
on False Creek – on SATURDAY 1-5pm
Paddle Down the Fraser or up at
Whistler on Sunday
To find out more about water issues, and
to get involved with World Rivers Day, visit the
Web sites below for more information.
World Rivers Day Web Site:
Rivers Institute at BCIT:
BC Rivers Day Web Site:
United Nations “Water For Life Decade”
NO DRAGON BOAT Practice this SUNDAY
but do take part in 1) Terry Fox Run 2) Vancouver Sports Day on Saturday & Sunday
No Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice this Sunday Sept 18th, neither Steven Wong nor myself is available… logistics are challenging.
AND it is TERRY FOX RUN DAY
– so please go to a Terry Fox Run site as your sports alternative for
Sunday… Usually I speak at at Run Site as a Terry's Team Member
(Cancer Survivors who serve as living examples that research has made a
I recommend going to Coquitlam for the 9:30am Opening Ceremonies.
will be very poignant and emotional because Betty Fox would always
speak at the Coquitlam Hometown Run – and unfortunately, Betty passed
away this summer. Last year, she was one of the Olympic flag bearers at
the Opening Ceremonies. I am pleased and thankful, that I was able to
meet and get to know Betty, and her family over the years, since I have
been a Terry's Team Member since 1993.
There are also run sites
in Stanley Park, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and
throughout all of BC. Times vary from 8am start to 10am starts.
SATURDAY – You can still PADDLE – SATURDAY
Paddle or Ice Skate
please see below for details of City of Vancouver Sports Day @ Creekside Community Centre
Dear Paddlers, Volunteers, Residents,
Neighbours and Friends,
Just a reminder that we are holding an
open house as part of the City of Vancouver’s Sports Day. New Dragon
Boat participants will be instructed in basic dragon boat paddling and
then taken out on the water for about 45 minutes.
All ages and
abilities welcome. Bring your family and friends. We’ll also be
barbequing up some hotdogs with proceeds to the Greater Vancouver Food
Boats depart at 1, 2 and 3 pm on Saturday.
Dragon Zone at Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athletes Way (Boating
Centre hallway to start)
Times: 1 pm – 4 pm
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
with the boat time you’d like to depart.
Please come a little
early so you are ready to go out on time!
Here is more
information on the City of Vancouver’s Sports Day
Sports Day in
Creekside Community Recreation Centre
Vancouver, BC V5Y 0B1
17, 2011 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Hillcrest Ice Rink
Vancouver, BC When:
Sunday September 18, 2011
Dear Sports Enthusiasts, Sports Day in
Canada is taking place on September 17th.
Join Canadians in
rallying support for Sports Day in Canada – a national celebration of
sport at all levels.
Sports Day in Vancouver: Two Days on Land,
Water & Ice
Day One: Sept 17, 1-5 PM at Creekside
Celebrate at Creekside and participate in sports
on water and land! Enjoy your favourite sport or try a new sport in our
gymnasium with the help of MoreSports staff and volunteers. Discover
the exhilarating experience of dragon boating on False Creek; please
pre-register to save your spot on the boat. Also, take advantage of
DragonZone's hot dog barbeque with all proceeds going to the Greater
Vancouver Food Bank. Scheduled sport times and registration information
for the dragon boat “try-it” sessions available at creeksidecentre.ca
For more information on other boating programs, visit dragonboatbc.ca
Two: Sept 18, 12:45-2:15 PM at Hillcrest Rink
Get involved on ice!
Experience the pristine ice of Hillcrest Rink with your family. Skate
for free, enjoy complimentary refreshments and watch great ice sport
demos provided by our local community sports groups!
invited, no need to RSVP (other than dragon boat)!
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team steered by Deb Martin and drummed by Debbie Poon. Deborah Gee is 2nd seat left – it is the 3 Deb team at the Steveston Dragon Boat Festival. photo courtesy of Philip Chin
It was the hottest day yet of a damp cold summer, and 37 dragon boat teams came to Steveston to enjoy the balmy 25 degreetemperature by the sea. The 2nd annual Steveston Dragon Boat Festival was set at the Britannia Historic Shipyard, locatedjust East of Steveston Village.
We weren’t in D nor E Division, nor A or B. Gung Haggis Fat Choy team placed 3rd in C Division Consolation
And with many brand new paddlers including 5 race virgins: Xavier, Christian, Mary, Leo & Alex
In race #1 – 200m – we came 3rd – 1:17.040
In race # 2 – 200m – we came 1st – 1:14.600 – improving by 2.4 seconds
In race #3 – 500m – we came 2nd 2:41.400 only 1 second behind Deep Cove Catch 22
Our race #4 was in C Division Consolation – we came 3rd 2:49.160
Great captaining by Steven Wong, drumming by Debbie Poon, and steering by Deb Martin. Great team chemistry and attitude by everybody, with special additions
Steve Sywulch, Carly Sywulch, Tracy Ghirardi, Alex Park and Wen + Mei-Fah Mah
Great work to Gung Haggis paddlers Aidan, Xavier, Karl, Todd, Steven W, Gerard, Barb, Deborah, Anne, Grace, Keng, Caroline, Christian, Leo and Mary
Top race honours went Team Lifescan who repeated their 1st place finish from 2010 with a time of 2:07.400. 2nd place went to False Creek Grandragons, a seniors team with 2:09.950. And 3rd place overall was a very tight race that saw Swordfish beat Dragon Hearts Beat by 0.28 sec with a bronze medal time of 2:10.84.
“My seniors, the Grandragons kick ass!!! 2nd overall in Steveston! So fun and so proud!”
– said their coach, former Olympic kayak paddler Kamini Jain.
Meanwhile, David Wong the coach of the Strathcona Youth Team, was telling his high school paddlers about why the Grandragons
should never be underestimated, and how amazing it is that paddlers aged 60+ are beating almost every dragon boat team.
This was the last race of the season for the Metro Vancouver area. Many of the teams start practicing in March, and looked forward to the final race of the summer.
It was a lively and festive site, set among the heritage buildings that remain from Steveston’s historic Cannery Row. Many of the paddlers learned about the history by reading the display signs, but were still unaware that area they were lining up in was later being used as the setting for the Salmon Row theatre production produced by Mortal Coil.
Teams came from as faraway as Ft. Langley and Saltspring Island. Local teams included many different teams including Dragon boat paddling is an inclusive activity with many specialty teams. O2P is a team of paddlers on kidney dialysis, which came 1st in the D Division. Strathcona Dragons is a youth team from Vancouver’s inner city neighbourhood that came 4th in B Consolation. Off Balance is a team that includes paddlers with multiple schlerosis.
My own team is named Gung Haggis Fat Choy, which found itself right at home in Steveston. Our team celebrates the multicultural history of BC, and we shared some of the stories of the Scottish and Chinese, Japanese and First Nations pioneer origins of Steveston and BC with our paddlers – many of whom are immigrants from Asian, Europe and
South America. Our team made it to the C semi-final, but got bumped into the consolation round.
The atmosphere at the Steveston Dragon Boat Race was very friendly, filled with the camaraderie of a full season of paddling. Many teams had started paddling in the wet months of February and March. There were also many new paddlers who only started in July and August. For them, their first race was very exciting.
Here are some pictures of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge taking part in a dragon boat race in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island. http://ca.news.yahoo.com/photos/william-and-kate-s-canadian-tour-1309620184-slideshow/prince-william-catherine-duchess-cambridge-cover-ears-helicopter-photo-210106997.html
The original plan was to have them both steer – making for good photo ops. Kate has steered for her own dragon boat team in England. But the weather was a bit choppy, so they both opted instead to paddle.