Modern dragon boating can trace its origins back to the Pearl River Delta of the Chinese province of Guangdong, however for Vancouver Island, the history is much closer to home, coming to prominence in Canada in the late 1940s in the City of Vancouver.
For the North Island, getting on board with the sport came just over six years ago with the founding of the Tri Port Dragon Boating Society.
In international competition a dragon boat team consists of 20 paddlers sitting in pairs, a drummer and a helms.
For the Tri Port Dragon Boating society, the numbers are a bit more modest, however the spirit of dragon boating is alive and well. In Port Hardy, the society consists of two teams – the Warriors which is an all women’s team, and TriPort Na’max’sala (means paddle as one), a mixed gender team.
Port McNeill has two women’s teams the Pussycats and the Tri Port Dragon Slayers, and Sointula has a recreational team, as well as a seniors’ team.
There are many benefits to dragon boating, President Cora Nelson said. “It’s definitely a full-body workout. As well, it brings a level of camaraderie that can be hard to find.”
For newcomers to the sport, Nelson said, the society “allows for a non-judgmental approach and encourages everyone to give it a shot. “It’s just an hour of being away from everything. It gives you a break from your regular everyday life. You only think about being in synch and listening to the drummer,” said Nelson. “We are out on the water Tuesdays and Thursdays,” she said, adding that “we are putting a team together from all over the North Island for a race in Nanaimo,” Nelson said. That team also practises Saturdays. Newcomers are asked to come on Thursdays to participate in the Learn to Paddle program.
Port McNeill will also be offering a Learn to Paddle program. For more information contact Lesa Lenarduzzi at 250-230-4749.
Those attending are asked to dress in layers, bring water and a towel.
For those interested in the Port Hardy Learn to Paddle contact Cora Nelson at 250-230 4227.