Steveston Dragon Boat Festival raced by Gung Haggis dragon boat team

2011 Steveston Dragon  Boat Festival

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–Dragon-Boat-Festival/18654179_Grpt6V#1456365323_6wTzNTj


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.

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