I am paddling in Kelowna with “How Wet Can You Get”
– formerly known as Scotia Dragons for the past decade, they changed their name this year.
I last raced in Kelowna in 2001 with GM Team (also known as Canadian, and later Roli), and in 2002 we raced a Gung Haggis Fat Choy team supplemented by paddlers from the 39th Brigade Army team.
The race site is on Okanagan Lake, just north of the new Bill Bennett Bridge and beside the Grand Hotel. There is a small beach that is used for the loading and unloading of dragon boats.
There are many people I know and have paddled with over the years o this team. I was invited by my paddling friend Lisa Venables, who joined the team this year after paddling the previous 8 years with O2P. Steers William Cheng and I last raced together in 2001 when I coached the Civil Serpents and we brought him on as steers. Back in 2000, Manley was on Dragon Hearts novice team, when I drummed and coached the Dragon Hearts Rec team. Cal Kelly joined the Gung Haggis team for the Taiwanese Race 4 years ago. And Connie Pan works at the Vancouver Public Library with me.
On the first day of this Kelowna Festival, we raced two times, and came 2nd in each race. Our morning race time was 2:20 – losing by 4 seconds to RGL United
In our afternoon race, with increasing winds and rough water, we raced
2:26 – losing by 10 seconds to Without Warning – where Dan Seto is
But… we made it into Diamond Division – the second highest tier – so
we are in the top 20 teams of about 80-100 teams (I don;t know what the
final total is). We are in lane 1 – so we probably had the slowest
combined time, (they always seed the fastest team in the middle eg. 3
for 5 teams).
But we have 5 or 6 “borrowed paddlers” – so with each race the entire
team improves as we learn the race calls, adjust to the stroke and
pace, and help bond as a team. But the other teams have borrowed
paddlers, and are adjusting too. Also in Diamond Division are SFU
Scaly Justice Bytes with Stuart Higginson and Ron Chin + Booze Cruise
with mercenary paddlers Manfred Preuss + Carolyn Jeffries & Alex
Kwok from CC Riders.
The weather started off raining this morning… but cleared up for our
first race. Sunshine actually happened. But winds blew up after our
2nd race – causing a boat collision – but they kept going. Sun and
heat arrived in time for beer garden time after the races.
I chatted with lots of dragon boat friends.
Manfred Preuss is here with his wife Kathy, paddling on Booze Cruise,
Manfred paddled with Gung Haggis at Rio Tinto Alcan this year.
Carolyn Jeffries from CC Riders and the CC Riders Coach Alex Kwok are also on Booze Cruise.
Maggie and Harvey are racing with Dragon Hearts Beat, as is James Yu (coach of Metro Van 44 Cheeks)
Allison Adachi and Wade who came out to practice with us on Tuesday are here with a mixed Chilliwack team.
Guen from Shaggin' Dragons is wearing her bunny ears on the drummer's seat.
Lee who paddled with us at Taiwanese last year is here with her Sudden Impact team
Lots of paddlers from Kelowna, including the Blazing Paddles who insisted on buying me a beer for steering for them in Vernon.