The Comox Valley will host a dragon boat festival this summer, for the first time since 2019.
The FGPC Comox Dragon Boat Festival will feature a traditional day of racing in Comox, co-hosted by the Town of Comox and the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club.
Along with the new partnership comes a new date for the event – June 11.
Town of Comox recreation director Ted Hagmeier said the partnership with the Victoria club has essentially saved the Comox event.
“Up to 2019 it was run by the community centre and a group of paddling volunteers, and we ran the event over the Nautical Days weekend (August long weekend),” said Hagmeier. “Our volunteers… have done a lot of work for paddling in the Valley, and they just don’t have the energy to carry it on. The community centre doesn’t have the expertise in dragon boating to do it ourselves – we relied on the paddlers to do that part. Our role was organizing it and getting the paperwork done – the administrative support. So that’s why this partnership with the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club (FGPC) is so great.”
Hagmeier added that the town and the FGPC have been working on this evolution of the event for a few years.
The Comox stop will be the first of a five-stop Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Series, which runs throughout the summer months. In the past, the Comox event was independent. Being part of a race series will add to the allure, and will draw teams from across the Island and beyond.
“The Town of Comox is very excited to be welcoming the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club for the Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Race Series,” said Comox Mayor Russ Arnott. “Having this event outside of Nautical Days also provides an important economic driver to the Town of Comox. Event attendees can take advantage of the several local restaurants, pubs, and shopping stores in the area. This truly is a great place to live, work, and play, and we’re excited at the idea of sharing that with the greater community.”
The full day of racing at the FGPC Comox Dragon Boat Festival will be held on June 11 at the Comox Municipal Marina, with the final podium-finish “Victor Simonson Championships” held in honour of the leadership of team builder, Victor Simonson.
“There are some in the Comox Valley who may not realize that some of our most experienced and strongest paddlers live and train in the Courtenay-Comox area,” said Erik Ages, general manager of the FGPC. “We have a lot of friends in the paddling community here. That’s one of the reasons why we’re pleased to be hosting the Comox Dragon Boat Festival, and including it in the Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Race Series.”
Early-bird registration for the Comox Dragon Boat Festival and/or the Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Race Series is on now at www.fgpaddle.com/races/fgpc-db-races/
“We’re grateful to be able to build on the excellent work done by the Comox Valley Victor Simonson Dragon Boat Festival,” Ages said. “After two long years of challenges because of COVID-19, the chance to race again in our communities is a cause for excitement in the paddling community.”
Paddlers whose teams enter the full series will receive incentives, including a series discount and preferred placement in paddlers’ villages during festival events.
“The new Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Race Series gives paddlers a platform to kick-start racing on the island,” Ages continued. “This is an opportunity for all of us in the paddling community to return to regattas, have fun, and set the stage for more seasons to come.”
The other races in the Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Series include:
• Gorge Super Sprints: 200-metre races in Victoria, May 14, 2022.
• Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival: Two-day festival in Nanaimo, July 9-10, 2022.
• Vancouver International Island Dragon Boat Festival: 500-metre races in Victoria, Aug. 5-7, 2022.
• Guts-&-Glory Championships: 1,000-1,500 metre Dragon Boat Race & Outrigger Races, in Victoria, Sep. 17, 2022.
The series will also launch a new fundraising initiative for the BC Cancer Foundation, with the new “Make Every Second Count BC Cancer Campaign.” Racers and supporters can donate funds to “add speed” to their favourite paddler or team by shaving off one second from their total time in special races, with trophies awarded to the highest fundraisers and fastest teams participating in the Every Second Count campaign.
“This event will not only showcase the wonderful amenities and activities down at Marina Park, but it also supports an incredible charity in the BC Cancer Foundation,” said Arnott. “What a great opportunity to bring people together, engage in exciting dragon boat racing, and raise money for such an important and meaningful cause.”
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–With files from Fairway Gorge Paddling Club