Thrilling end to Spirit Point Dragons season

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BY DONNA COCHRAN

DRIFTWOOD contributor

Spirit Point Dragons placed first in Jade division at the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival last weekend in a thrilling final.

Their division win earned them ribbons, not medals, for their efforts but they performed the best times of their whole season — pure gold!

The venue was Skaha Lake Park on beautiful Skaha Lake. There were 80 women’s/mixed teams racing four 500-metre races, two each on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday race times placed each team in Jade, Diamond or Platinum semis and finals on Sunday.

The Sunday semi-final saw Spirit Point grab second place (2:25) against first-place Silver Dips (2:19) and third-place CBC Wave Catchers (2:29). The Sunday final was the most competitive race and Spirit Point was nose to nose with CBC Wave Catchers down the course. But our dragons roared in a final 10-metre surge and crossed the line in first place with a record time of 2:23.28, ahead of CBC’s 2:23.70, a photo finish win of 4/100ths of a second.

Paddlers for the festival were Lohrainne Ekelund, Donna Cochran, Mary Lou Cuddy, Robyn Huntley, Wendy McEachern, Serena Mellen, Melynda Okulitch, Jeanne Delparte, Carmelle Labelle, Leslie Grott, Chris Ortlepp, Ann Marie Davidson, Shirley Julien, Lisa Owens, Lorenn Ekelund, Sam Goddard, Susan Ahn, Lynda Green, Andrew Okulitch, Joni Develin and Brian Campbell. Coach Mary Rowles was in fine form, particularly in the final race when she used an expletive to get the team to leave it all in the boat for the last 10-metre surge over the finish line. 

The “most valuable team member” award has to go to our brilliant steersperson Tom McKeachie. For the Saturday afternoon race, the predicted high winds blew in across the lake, making racing conditions very difficult. Early in the race, McKeachie had to fall to his knees to avoid falling overboard while fighting with all his strength to hold the tiller steady and keep the boat moving ahead. In later races, two steerspersons did go overboard! McKeachie says he was very proud of the team’s efforts to keep paddling through the high waves hitting the boat broadside because that provided the stability to prevent capsizing. 

The team gives a “paddles up” thank you to Lynda Green, our official assistant coach this year, to our multi-talented team manager Barry Green, and to Jean Davis for providing our new home on St. Mary Lake.

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