As dozens of dragon boat teams gather this Saturday for the Oceanfront Suites Dragon Boat Festival at Cowichan Bay, local entry Stroke the Dragon will be looking to finish the season a strong note.
The team has been practicing twice a week since the middle of March, and has achieved some remarkable results over the three events they have entered this year, their first season together.
The team’s first competition came at the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club Super Sprints in May, where they made waves by finishing second overall after four races, missing first by just half a second.
In July, Stroke the Dragon was the talk of the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival, where they moved themselves into the top competitive division over the course of the event, finally finishing fifth overall out of 37 teams, just 6.79 seconds back of the first-place team.
Earlier this month, on Aug. 15 and 16, the all-women’s team that trains in Cowichan Bay put up their best time of the season as they took silver at the Victoria International Dragon Boat Festival, competing against teams from across Western Canada and the northwestern U.S.
In the final race of the day, the team moved into second place over the last 40 strokes.
“For a first-year team with more than half of the team being brand new to the sport this is an amazing accomplishment,” manager Nina Padjen said.
Stroke the Dragon is made up of a group of friends, with about 65 per cent of the team members being new to the sport this year. The experienced paddlers were members of the other five teams from the Cowichan Valley, but chose to start a new competitive team this year. Team sponsors include the Oceanfront Suites, South Coast Standing Stem, and Heliquest.
The Oceanfront Suites Dragon Boat Festival at Cowichan Bay will take place this Saturday at Kil-pah-las Beach, with races beginning at 9 a.m., and the final at 3:30 p.m.