The Red Eyes Paddling Club from Calgary digs in as they row back the width of Skaha lake in a semi final heat at the 2017 Penticton Dragon Boat Festival. Steve Kidd/Western News

Penticton Festival elevates dragon boats

Visiting teams loved competition featured in Penticton Dragon Boat Festival

The skies cleared up for the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival, creating some other challenges on the water, but overall another successful event.

“We hit the perfect weather window,” said organizer Don Mulhall.

Leading up to the race, Penticton was very smoky and when the skies cleared up Saturday morning, there were heavy winds making the water challenging. Sunday came with clear blue skies and calm winds helping local teams put forth some of their best efforts at the festival.

That includes the Peach City Dragons, winning the Mixed Platinum B Division — the highest the team has ever placed.

Despirit Housewives from Penticton took second in the women Diamond B final. The Golden Dragons have grown enough that they were able to field two teams in mixed and the women’s categories. 22 in Sync, another Penticton women’s crew, did well by finishing in the Gold A Division and Hidden Dragons Crouching Cougars ended up in the Bronze A final.

Survivorship missed keeping the Breast Cancer Survivor Cup at home, finishing two seconds behind Sistership from Calgary this year.

The women’s Platinum A final in the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival hadn’t begun, yet Nanaimo’s Nusa’Lon Dragons already had their best finish of their season.

Their previous best result was sixth at a Victoria festival. The Dragons placed third in two minutes 14.31 seconds. Kelowna’s Fire on Water won in 2:11.59.

“It’s great to take that into next year,” said Sam Twigg.

The weekend was exciting for the Nusa’Lon Dragons, who are a rebuilding with several new members.

“It’s been really good to get the results that we have today (Sunday),” said Twigg, who has competed in Penticton six times.

It’s not the first time the Dragons have reached the final, but Twigg said “this feels better because we’ve worked harder to get there.”

Their opening two races went well, winning their first round race by 13 seconds and their second by two seconds.

“We’re a team that actually likes to be pushed. We do better and we get better times if the competition is closer,” she said.

On Sunday morning, the team accomplished a best time of 2:14 as a result of new coaching and the group coming together.

“Maybe a bit late for the season, but it doesn’t matter, it is a good way to go out,” she said.

Wahine Kei Waka of the Edmonton Dragon Boat Racing Club, meaning women in canoe in Hawaii, took third in the women’s Platinum B final, finishing in 2:18.19. Manager Julie Mitchell said the weekend was amazing for them as the group proved it can progress and respond when needed.

“This is always a great festival for us because it’s like we have spent all season gelling and now we get to prove that we can do it,” said Mitchell. “Our times have been better than we’ve done all season. Better than we have done last year here.”

Mitchell has been with the team five years and it’s the first time Wahine Kei Waka got into the Platinum division. Lauria MacDougall said their results is from their hard work.

“We don’t get to go to very many festivals because we’re in Alberta,” she said. “This is the festival where it all comes together. It’s extremely competitive.”

This was the final race of the season for Wahine Kei Waka. To Mitchell, their result meant ending the season on a high. Their entire team is on a high.

“They feel really good. It means we will get them to come back, because they will remember that feeling that they had here in Penticton,” said Mitchell. “I want to do that again, I want to feel that again.”

Get Dragon Boat Festival results by clicking here.

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