Paddlers stroke in unison at the Vernon Dragon Boat Festival and pledge drive Saturday on Kalamalka Lake.

Paddlers stroke in unison at the Vernon Dragon Boat Festival and pledge drive Saturday on Kalamalka Lake.

Paddlers fire up Dragon festival

Blue skies and calm water set a stunning backdrop for a great day of racing at the Vernon Dragon Boat Festival and pledge drive Saturday at Kalamalka Lake.

  • Aug. 19, 2011 10:00 a.m.

Blue skies and calm water set a stunning backdrop for a great day of racing at the Vernon Dragon Boat Festival and pledge drive Saturday at Kalamalka Lake.

With more than 500 paddlers, and a large and enthusiastic community of supporters on the beach, the day was set for success.

Racing over 500 metres, the lead positions of the boats changed often and the beat of each team’s drummer could be clearly heard as teams were urged along the course.

Five local teams, including the Buoyant Buddies (breast cancer survivors), Dragon Riders, Poseidon’s Fury, Stussi-Skyriders and Excel Fitness joined a total of 20 teams for 21 races.

Teams progressed through heats and excitement quickly built for the final rounds of racing. After many battles for the lead and numerous tight finishes, the women’s team Dragon in the Drink, and mixed team Outta-My Wake, both from Kelowna, won the championship trophies.

The festival is now in the hands of local non-profit operators, Vernon Rowing and Paddling Centre (VRPC) at Swan Lake and Go Rowing and Paddling Association of Canada. These organizations are also committed to giving back to other local charities through the events they produce and have teamed up with the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation through the addition of a pledge drive.

“To provide quality rowing and paddling programs in Vernon is so rewarding, but it doesn’t get any better when you can also leave a substantial legacy in our community,” said Lisa George, manager of VRPC. “This year’s festival has raised over $8,000 which will purchase four biopsy guns for Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“The Stussi-Skyride team were hands down the winners of the title of Top Fund Raising Team, raising $6,000 of the total and we are so proud of their efforts.”

Steve Frisch, executive director of Go Row, said: “We have operated our centre on Swan Lake for 13 years and it is so exciting to see Vernon embrace the programs and events we provide. Our organization provides events which serve in excess of 14,000 people each year. To produce the Vernon Dragon Boat Festival is timely and we look forward to building participation each year.”

To learn more about rowing and paddling programs at VRPC visit www.vernonrowingandpaddling.com

The club thanked event sponsors, Sun FM, the City of Vernon, Nipika Mountain Resort, Sparkling Hills Resort and The Morning Star, as well as their volunteers.