Dragon boats set sail on Cowichan Bay this weekend

“It has been my dream since 2009 to have a festival on the bay, and it is finally coming to fruition.”

Here there be dragons!

The waters of Cowichan Bay will be full of dragon boats this Saturday for the first-ever Oceanfront Suites Dragon Boat Festival.

Nearly 500 paddlers on 20 different teams from across Vancouver Island — Port McNeill to Victoria — will take to the bay off of Kil-pah-las Beach throughout the day. Among the entries will be the six teams based on Cowichan Bay.

“It has been my dream since 2009 to have a festival on the bay, and it is finally coming to fruition,” festival spokesperson Mandy Richards said.

Races will feature three boats at a time, paddling fiercely down the 500m course

The event will begin with a blessing by First Nations elders at 8:30 am., with races starting at 9 a.m. Finals will take place around 3:30 p.m., followed by medal presentations at 4 p.m.

A beer garden will run from noon to 5 p.m. at the Oceanfront Suites. The races will be visible from the beach and from points throughout the village.

To alleviate parking concerns in Cowichan Bay village, a free shuttle bus will run from Bench Elementary School to the race site throughout the day.