The Penticton Dragon Boat Festival takes place Sept. 8 and 9 and will bring an estimated 2,000 paddlers from around B.C. and Alberta to the city.                                Western News file photo

The Penticton Dragon Boat Festival takes place Sept. 8 and 9 and will bring an estimated 2,000 paddlers from around B.C. and Alberta to the city. Western News file photo

Teams prepare for one of B.C.’s largest dragon boat competitions

The festival takes place in Penticton on Sept. 8 and 9

With the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival drawing near, local teams are amping up their practices in preparation.

The festival, which is in its 18th year, takes place on Skaha Lake Sept. 8 and 9. The event consists of two 500-metre qualifying heats on the first day, with semis and finals taking place the following day. According to Penny Seely, coach of one of the local teams that will be competing, 22 in Sync, it’s been hard to get practices in due to the air quality the last few weeks.

“We’re hoping to get on the water more. We haven’t been able to because we’ve been smoked out,” said Seely.

RELATED: Penticton Dragon Boat Festival won’t be smoked out

Seely said when local teams can’t get out on the lake, they do have access to modified rowing machines for practicing indoors. Although it’s not the real thing, it’s the next best thing.

“We try and do games on them and things like that,” said Seely. “Something is better than nothing.”

While organizers are hoping for sunshine and great weather, contingency plans have been made if the smoke does roll back into the valley.

“We‘ve seen a number of events having to cancel in recent weeks due to extreme smoke levels, and it got us thinking how could we still provide a racing experience for teams?

With over 2,000 athletes, and two days of racing, it is too big an event to cancel,” said Don Mulhall, the race director. ”And with conditions capable of changing hourly we’re committed to doing everything we can to ensure the event’s success, and paddler’s are safe. The absolute goal is to run the event outdoors on beautiful Skaha Lake.”

That’s when the idea for an indoor regatta came to mind.

The local paddling community maintains a paddling room in the community centre utilizing rowing ergometers equipped with adapters that allow the machines to simulate paddling. The Penticton Dragon Boat Festival needed an indoor space to accommodate the potentially large numbers of teams. David Prystay, from the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre, stepped up and offered free use of the conference centre.

“I met with David,” said Mulhall. “He toured me around this beautiful new conference space, and when I explained our need for a back up plan, he immediately pledged to support our event.”

Race organizers are following the provincial government’s Air Quality Health Index closely, and hope to run the event under clear blue sky, but have the other options ready. That includes everything from modifying the race length, to postponing or adjusting the race schedule and the indoor regatta.

There will be a beverage gardens at the event, with the proceeds going to Survivorship — the South Okanagan’s Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat team. There will also be a special ceremony honouring the survivor teams.

RELATED: 22 in Sync take second in their division at Steveston Dragon Boat Festival

“There will be a bunch of other survivor teams, they will have a race for survivor teams only,” said Seely. “Then after, there will be what we call the Carnation Ceremony.”

Seely believes there will be “tough competition coming” to the festival this year, but she’s confident her team will do well within their division.

“Our times in the heat races on Saturday will determine what division we end up in on Sunday,” said Seely. “Those heat races help put you against teams that are close to the same calibre as you.”

The Penticton Dragon Boat Festival is B.C.’s second biggest and it will feature food vendors, entertainment, and a marketplace. Teams from around the province and Alberta will be competing.

For more information about the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival, click here.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter

JordynThomson

Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes West Kelowna mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Pearson Road Elementary in Rutland Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)
COVID-19 exposures at Kelowna elementary school

Interior Health confirms virus exposures at Pearson Road Elementary

A render of the proposed expansion at Kelowna Christian School. (City of Kelowna)
City of Kelowna staff support major expansion of local school

Expansion would increase the size of Kelowna Christian School by roughly 3,540 square metres

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read