By Cindy Levens
Revelstoke’s own dragon boat team dramatically intensified its practice on Lake Revelstoke this week in preparation for the Sept. 11-13 Penticton Dragon Boat Festival.
“We’re stepping up the pace, really concentrating on strength and timing,“ said Revelstoke Dragon Boat Society coach Ginger Shoji as cheers and camera flashes emanated from a small group of onlookers at the Martha Creek Provincial Campground beach on Thursday.
“I think we have a very strong team this year and our chances are really good.”
Revelstoke will be sending a full-capacity boat of 20 paddlers, a steersman and drummer. The 40-foot, bright yellow craft will sport its ceremonial dragon head and tail for the 500-meter races.
“It is different than canoeing,” said steersman Elmer Shoji. The stroke is more of a piston-like motion with the blade entering and exiting the water perpendicular to the surface.”
The Lake Revelstoke Dragon Boat Society purchased the boat in 2005 and formed the co-ed Dam Survivors team in 2006.
“Our mandate is to support those dealing with cancer, but you don’t have to be a survivor to be part of our team,” Ginger Shoji said. “The races are really exciting and the adrenaline runs pretty high.
The annual festival, now in its ninth year, lists approximately 50 dragon boat team entrants for the three-day event.