By DONNA COCHRAN
At the Harrison Dragon Boat Regatta this past weekend, Salt Spring’s Spirit Point Dragons stood proudly on the podium to accept the bronze medal in the Division-C championship race. It was a hard-fought win as the conditions on Harrison Lake were particularly challenging this year.
The regatta hosted 63 teams, 36 mixed and 27 women’s, paddling four races, a 200-metre opener and three 500-m races. The total time of the first two races determined each team’s placements for the semi-final and final races. There were many new teams this year, so the competition was stiff. Race organizers decided to create a new competitive championship a level above Division A to challenge the top-most competitive teams to race each other. That meant that the A teams did not drift down into Div. B and C, taking medals from the top recreational teams.
Spirit Point Dragons’ combined race times of 1:01 in the 200-m and 2:54 in the 500-m placed us in the Division B/C semi-final. We placed a respectable fifth place (2:44.37), just squeaking past Fire Dragon (2:44.89). That time gave us a good shot at the medals in the Div.-C championship final. After a solid start, we held our own going head to head with the Grand Dragons, nosing them out for the bronze. The gold went to One Dragon (2:35), the silver to Fire Dragon (2:36) and the bronze to Spirit Point (2:42), ahead of Grand Dragons (2:43), Braggin Dragons (2:53) and Century Dragons (3:17).
Harrison Lake, known for its wind sports, is a both beautiful and challenging venue for dragon boat racing. The glacier-fed, freshwater lake is less buoyant than ocean salt water making paddlers work harder to maintain the glide.
The morning started off nice and smooth but the winds picked up steadily and were full-on in the afternoon presenting lots of excitement for teams and organizers. The race starter did a brilliant job getting six teams aligned and off the starting line for each race. Steersperson Tom McKeachie had to work extra hard to keep in our lane fighting the wind and swells from various boats nearby. Coach Mary Rowles kept the team’s spirits up with her steady beats of the drum and extra loud shouts of encouragement to be heard above the wind.
Spirit Point paddlers included Serena Mellen and Lorhainne Ekelund, the team’s masterful strokes who set the pace, Janet Bright, Donna Cochran, Lesley Grott, Mary Lou Cuddy, Wendy Eggertson, Robyn Huntley, Wendy McEachern, Carmelle Labelle, Susana Helgason, Melynda Okulitch, Rob Huber, Ann Marie Davidson, Shirley Julien, Sam Goddard, Lisa Coles, Lorenn Ekelund, Joni Devlin and Andrew Okulitch.
The team was thrilled to welcome Sheila and Marit Christensen, who came to cheer us on from their new home in Abbotsford. The paddlers gave them a special paddles-up salute to show our gratitude.
New paddlers are always welcome. Contact coach Mary Rowles at email@example.com.