First Place at last!

In their sixth year of competing Revelstoke’s Dam Survivors team scored their first ever first and set a new personal best time at the recent Penticton Dragon Boat Festival.

Almost 90 teams bringing 2200 competitors converged on sunny Skaha Lake September 10. The two day event has become the race not to miss. Up to five boats at a time streaked down a 500 metre course at ferocious paddling rates of from 68 to 74 strokes per minute. Wins were gained by fractions of a second.

Timing and focus are everything explained Survivor’s Coach Ginger Shoji. “We’ve beaten boats that had ten men on board compared to our three because we kept better time.” Paddlers must focus on the lead strokes in the front seat and synchronize their top arms going up and down simultaneously.

“Watching our second race I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Shoji said. “We pulled ahead from fifth to third place in the last 30 strokes by digging deep in perfect time.”

In race three another boat nearly collided with the Survivors causing their steersperson to slip and fall. They were forced to stop and restart, clocking in at a disappointing 2:48.

By Barbara l. Little

Before the final race, manager Jackie Goodman and new recruit Kendra Kent, a seven year veteran paddler from the coast, took the team through a visualization exercise. Lined up in their racing positions, connected by hands to shoulders, eyes closed they were led through a race. “We’ve trained hard all summer,” Goodman told them. “You’ve got the power. You can do this. The other teams have got their eyes on us now.”

Previously content with third places and paddling just for fun, something caught fire in the Survivors. They amped it up a notch and paddled their behinds off to snatch first in the Jade B division with a best time ever of 2:18.