The Snappin’ Dragons launch in the Gorge Waterway during training.

Snapping at the chance

Oak Bay paddlers hit the water at this weekend’s Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

After hosting the National Dragon Boat Championships in 2013, this year’s Victoria Dragon Boat Festival will be in the limelight once again.

As always, it promises to be an exciting three days of events on and around the Gorge, Aug. 15 to 17.

Teams from San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and across B.C. will compete against our local teams. The races make for a colourful spectacle set on the backdrop of Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour and the Gorge.

In this sport, strength, endurance and skill are important, but so is teamwork, and being part of a team was one of the key drawing cards for two Oak Bay women who became dragon boaters and will be competing in this year’s festival.

Carla Beer-Carpenter is in her first season of dragon boating. A dietician with Island Health, Beer-Carpenter coordinates the bariatric surgery program. Because her days on the job can be quite intense, she needed an activity that would offset the desire she had to come home after work and do nothing.

“I was looking for something that would force me to get off the sofa at night,” says Beer-Carpenter, “and the only way to do that was to find something like a team that was a committed thing. Then I would have to go.”

Beer-Carpenter not only found a committed team, she found two. She paddles four times a week – twice with an outrigger team and twice with her dragon boating team, Paddlers of the Fifth Moon. This will be her first time competing in the festival.

Paula Gallagher is also from Oak Bay but paddles with the competitor boat Snappin’ Dragons.

Gallagher came into dragon boating “years ago” when she lived in Vancouver. Gallagher moved here and works as a visual language interpreter for School District 61. She refound paddling four years ago, and has been with several teams in that span. She finds the Snappin’ Dragons a friendly bunch.

“But I find that all over the place,” says Gallagher. “Dragon Boat people are really inclusive, really fun.”

Decidedly, another major drawing card for both women is the beautiful surroundings when they are out on the water.

“The Gorge is absolutely beautiful in the summertime. Who can beat being out on the water?” added Gallagher. “It’s absolutely lovely to be on the waterside, looking toward the shore.”

Beer-Carpenter, too, likes getting out on the water in the fresh air.

“It’s a great exercise,” she said.

Day to day, it’s not the weather that keeps these two paddlers turning up for practice , it’s the work each team does with its coach, and the excitement of preparing for the competition.

“It’s fun but it’s also competitive,” says Beer-Carpenter. “Our coach (Katy Milne) is very organized, and I think she sets the tone – everybody is friendly and it’s all very cooperative.”

Events begin on Friday, Aug. 15 with the opening ceremonies at 1 p.m. Races and activities begin on Saturday, and the final award ceremony takes place Sunday, Aug. 17 at 1:30 p.m.

Just Posted

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

Pacific FC kickoff party scores in Victoria Inner Harbour

Victoria cannabis dispensaries are busy in their first days of legal operation

The Cloud Nine Collective and The Original FARM opened their doors on April 15

Report calls on Saanich to expand multicultural programming at recreation facilities

Report also notes that Saanich could do more for sexual minorities.

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Most Read