Dragon boaters paddle with high-tech advantage

Gorging Dragons coach Tom Arnold

Gorging Dragons coach Tom Arnold


Fundraising, team registration gears up for 17th annual festival

As dragon boat teams train for Victoria’s annual August festival, they’ll have the opportunity to improve their stroke with some high-tech gear.

The Merlin Excalibur paddle contains four sensors which record both the position and force of its user’s stroke. Simply unscrew a metal cap along the paddle’s shaft to reveal a USB port to transfer the data to a computer.

“It provides numbers and graphs and all kinds of feedback on the stroke.” said Tom Arnold, coach of the Gorging Dragons, the festival’s flagship team.

“It’s such an important coaching tool for paddlers at any level but particularly for newer paddlers to understand … what position you need to be in and how to use your body to make the boat go forward,” he said.

The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society purchased the $3,500 Merlin for the Gorging Dragons who conduct training clinics for more than half of the teams on the South Island.

“The festival is really the only organization on the Island that supports dragon boating at all levels,” Arnold said.

The fancy paddle isn’t the only new feature of this year’s Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, running Aug. 12 to 14 at Ship Point.

This year, the society has hired a professional race management company from Vancouver.

“There’s going to be emphasis on quicker race results … that can get posted over Twitter,” said society chair Mark Grey-Dreaper.

“We’ve always had a volunteer group of race management officials and they’ve done a great job. The sport keeps evolving and you want to keep up.”

So far, 59 dragon boat teams have signed up, but expect between 80 and 90 teams to register from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

On Aug. 13, more than 2,000 participants of every skill level compete together, from beginner teams to international-caliber teams like the Gorging Dragons.

On Aug. 14, teams are grouped based on skill level.

“It’s an exciting venue … because all day long you’ll have these tight competitive races at every level,” said Arnold.

As for the elite paddling class, Arnold said a couple of teams will likely give the Gorging Dragons a run for their money this year, including Portland’s Kaiikaika team.

These days, the Gorging Dragons are training for a July race to win a spot at the 2012 Club Crew World Championships in Hong Kong.

“Like no other sport (dragon boat racing) is a complete team sport,” said Arnold.

“The boats are so big and so heavy, it really takes 20 people working in unison to make the boats go. There’s a magical moment that you sometimes get in a dragon boat race when you’re feeling the energy off all the other paddlers in the boat and everybody’s perfectly in sync.”

When this happens, the boat lifts slightly out of the water, he explained. “It’s like this charge of electricity.”





Just Posted

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read