At first glance, watching a dragon boat glide through the water might look as easy and as fluid as a couple in a canoe.
But the two couldn’t be further apart, aside from the fact that both involve a boat, paddles and water.
By comparison, a canoe can weigh anywhere between 30 and 60 pounds whereas a dragon boat can get as high as 850 pounds.
Of course in order to push that much weight through the water, more than a couple of lovebirds are needed.
According to Val Trevis, who along with Ken Francis coach the Vernon mixed-team Poseidon’s Fury, team sports like hockey or soccer don’t compare to the teamwork needed in dragon boating.
“It’s just one of those amazing sports for camaraderie. You might be able to score a goal in soccer alone, but you can’t get to the finish in a dragon boat alone,” said Trevis.
Typically dragon boats are made up of 22 paddlers, a drummer and a steerer.
A successful race is dependant on all 24 members keeping a rhythm in unison from the start of a race to the finish.
Numbers for Poseidon’s Fury are steady for now but they could always use a few new members.
“Our numbers are pretty bang-on, but we’re always looking to get people to come out and try it,” said Trevis.
Team numbers may be stable for now, but they’re used to seeing more members and a rainy spring may have deterred new members from joining.
“No one really wants to go out in the rain, but it’s a water sport, you’re probably going to get wet anyway,” said Jamie Swan, a paddler on Poseidon’s Fury.
At 25-years-old, Swan is in her second year of paddling and after attending an orientation day last year she was immediately hooked.
Dragon boating has numerous health benefits, which is why people like Swan are joining dragon boat teams.
“It’s just a different workout if you’re looking for something active,” said Swan. “It’s a whole body workout, you use your legs, most of your core, and actually very little of your arms.”
Swan also insists it’s also a good way to let off some steam at the end of a stressful day
“It’s nice if you have aggressions, you just go out in the water and get them all out. Most people who have had a bad day feel better afterwards.”
Joining Poseidon’s Fury as rec-teams in Vernon are the Dragon Riders, an all-ladies team and the Buoyant Buddies, the breast cancer survivor team.
All three teams practise twice a week and all plan on taking part in the Prospera Vernon Dragon Boat Festival, which hits Kalamalka Lake Saturday, August 18.
The event is steadily growing since Vernon Go Row and Paddle took over organizing the event.
Race entries have capped at 28 teams this year, which is eight more than last year’s entries.
“We want to grow it gradually, but dragon boat festivals can become huge for a community,” said Lisa George of Go Row and Paddle in Vernon.
With race entries currently full for this year’s event, Go Row and Paddle still encourages people to try dragon boating in hopes of getting more teams for years to come.
“We want to make it an event that promotes sport within the community and draws all ages and abilities to a day of racing,” said George.
After last years festival raised $8,300 for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation, a goal of $10,000 has been set for this year’s festival.
Spectators are more than welcome to catch some of the race action from the docks or the beach at Kal.
Races get underway at 8:30 a.m. and run throughout the entire day with the final race of the day hitting the water at 3:15 p.m.
For more information on the festival visit www.gorowandpaddle.org
If you’d like to try dragon boating with Vernon’s mixed-team contact Val Trevis at 250-558-5518 or e-mail her at email@example.com.