Thursday, 01 September 2011 10:50

Dragonboat Associations look for new recruits

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By Rose Sanchez — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Forty-four new paddlers took the water in Elkwater last Sunday, to try out the fastest-growing sport in the world — dragonboat racing.
The Medicine Hat Dragonboat Association (MHDA) and Gas City Dragon Boating for Health Association teamed up to host the fun day which included dryland training, a one-hour practice session in a dragonboat on the lake, the chance to participate in a 200-metre race and a barbecue beef on a bun dinner afterwards.


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Dragon boat racing is a special activity and was empowering for those on the lake near Elkwater.


The day of fun was all about introducing the sport to newcomers with the hopes a few people would decide to show an interest in participating on a regular basis and join a team.

“It was held to promote the spirit of dragonboating and give people the opportunity to try it out,” said Linda Chapman, one of the event organizers, along with Donna Schneider, both of the MHDA.

There had been plans to host a dragonboat festival at Elkwater this summer, but unfortunately organizers started a little late with the planning so instead decided to host a fun day.

The 44 newcomers included both male and females. Once fitted with life jackets and given a paddle, they were split into two teams. Dryland training included instruction about how to enter and exit the dragonboat, the commands which would be given and a chance to practise the various paddling techniques. Then it was time to hit the water and put the new knowledge gained to the test.

After an hour on the water, the new paddlers took a break while the experienced teams took over. Members of Sister Power, Snapdragons and Prairie Fire took to the water in two dragonboats to show the newcomers how it was done and race one another a short 200 metres.

Schneider is involved with dragonboat racing because of the people.

“It’s camaraderie; it’s teamwork; it’s commitment and it’s dedication,” she says about the sport.

Chapman says it’s fun to get on the water and work together to be able to move a half-ton boat.

“It’s very beautiful and it’s empowering,” she adds.

Sister Power is a team which includes breast cancer survivors.

“There’s something special about cancer survivors,” says Schneider. “They hug harder, they’re more sincere ... it’s just something from the heart. I don’t know how to describe it.”

The goal of the associations involved in the fun day was to increase awareness about the sport and build more teams. There are also more members needed to join the teams already in place as there is always some turnover on the teams as paddlers decide they are ready for a break from the sport.

Eventually the goal is to have an annual dragonboat festival at Elkwater. What is needed to do so is a dock at the east end of the lake, but also sponsorship from businesses.

“We hoped people enjoyed it,” says Chapman about the fun day.

If the smiles on the faces of the 44 newcomers were any indication, she has little to worry about.

Co-workers from the laboratory at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital were sitting down to enjoy the meal at the end of the day. They had been asked to attend the fun day

by a fellow coworker who is a member of a dragonboat team.

“It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work,” says Jacquie Hess of Medicine Hat. “I really enjoyed it and I would do it again.”

Glenda Lawes said it was a lot harder than she thought it would be.

“I could tell when I started to get it a little bit more,” she added, about the importance of timing to power the boat through the water. She brought her sister Sandra Hanson along who added the day was beautiful.

Jill Cavan agreed it was hard work, but said it was a good exhausted feeling she had at the end ofthe day.

“It was a nice day out and a chance to do something with co-workers.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about

the local dragonboating organizations can

contact Donna Schneider by email at: vlazys@ xplornet.com; Linda Chapman by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to contact the Gas City Dragon Boating for Health Association check out the website at: http://gascitydragonboat.com/.


See also: Rose Sanchez's column about the dragon boats at http://www.prairiepost.com/commentary/opinions/3249-dragonboat-racing-is-an-empowering-sport.html


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