May 21st, 2024

Dragon boat group wants more participants as summer season nears

By ANNA SMITH on April 16, 2024.

The Medicine Hat Dragon Boat Association is looking forward to a new season and, hopefully, new teams to go with it.

Currently, the association has two women’s teams, says chair Linda Gove.

“Right now we are trying to grow our association. At one time we did have a third ladies team. And that was prior to COVID. They went out on Wednesday evenings,” said Gove. Currently, the two available teams head out to Elkwater Lake for weekly practice on Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Presently, they are on the lookout for more ladies who might be interested in a practice on Sunday mornings, something that came up during a recent informational night.

“When we have got 10-12 women who want to do Sunday mornings, I’m thinking that I can get enough experienced paddlers to come out and teach them and get them going,” said Gove. “It looks like there might be a Sunday morning opportunity there.”

A team however, requires roughly 26 members to accommodate for the schedules of shift workers and other outside responsibilities, to allow for the boat to go on the water if there are a few people who can’t make any given practice.

The association is hopeful to see this growth, both for individual teams and for the possibility of attending events, said Gove.

“We had over 30 people at our informational night,” said Gove. “That’s essentially a team right there, we’d just need to organize them.”

Gove added that while the teams they have are women’s teams, a nod to the sport’s strong roots with breast cancer survivors, she hopes they will also be able to create a mixed team in the near future.

“I would love to start a mixed team,” said Gove. “Last night we had one fellow come out. He actually is an experienced paddler from Manitoba.

“The other thing is that, even on an all female team, you can have a male steerer and drummer. I have somebody coming down from Calgary who is going to be putting on steering training, because it can be tricky. You have to stand on the back of this little boat with a big huge oar and steer it. So that takes some skill.”

Gove doesn’t expect that lower water levels will be an issue this season, as the dragon boats are fairly lightweight. She suspects it could be an issue if they were in some of the smaller local lakes, but as they practise at Elkwater, she doesn’t foresee any interruptions.

Those interested in trying out the sport can reach Gove at 403-527-9862. Boats are set to hit the water May 13, with multiple opportunities to try the sport before committing.

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