Dragon boat team seeking paddlers

Duane Hicks

The Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Club is seeking dedicated paddlers for an official team to go on the road and compete.
Six volunteers will be going to Pickering, Ont. on the first weekend in May to train with Alkame Dragon Boat Services at the P3 Paddle Centre.
Two will get their steersman certification while two others will learn about dragon boat coaching, noted club member Annely Armstrong-Thorstad.
The other two will learn how to officiate dragon boat races, she added.
In addition to helping run the local club, Armstrong-Thorstad said this training will cement the foundation for an official dragon boat team, with the newly-trained volunteers returning here with the knowledge to make that happen.
The training is being covered thanks to a Trillium grant the club got last year.
Organizers are looking for men and women aged 18 and up, and of all skill levels, to step forward to be part of the club’s official dragon boat team.
“We have our jerseys picked out,” Armstrong-Thorstad said. “We’ve got jackets and shirts and the racer back jerseys, and all that kind of stuff.
“But we’d really like to have people go on an actual team.
“What we’d like to do is be able to travel,” she noted. “We’re looking at four or five other festivals to go to, to go down and promote our area and promote the festival up here.
“And really, you have to go to the festivals and participate in order to do that,” she reasoned.
Armstrong-Thorstad said the club is looking for 20 people. It has 11 right now, and needs nine more from both sides of the border.
The cost to join is $25/year, which covers various insurances, as well $30 to buy a jersey.
In addition to the community paddles, which will be held each Tuesday starting in late May, the official team will attend more rigourous workouts tentatively set for Thursdays.
Armstrong-Thorstad noted the community paddles are more leisurely and only are run for spans of 250 metres.
The workouts, on the other hand, will be for spans of 500 metres, which is the actual length teams race at competitions elsewhere.
The sooner organizers can get an official team together, the better as they hope to attend their first race in Bemidji in early June.
Other races could be near Winnipeg and in Duluth, although exactly which events will be attended will depend on what the team decides.
To get involved, call Armstrong-Thorstad at 274-5773.
Meanwhile, organizers are looking for more teams and individuals to sign up for the fourth-annual Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival, which will run here Saturday, June 27 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Sorting Gap Marina.
Teams of 15 (14 paddlers plus a drummer) are being sought, but any individuals who want to sign up are welcome, as well (they will be placed on a team).
The cost is $35 per paddler, which includes participation, use of equipment, and community paddles throughout the summer.
To sign up, visit www.boundarywatersdragonboat.com
Armstrong-Thorstad said interest in this year’s festival is building.
“We have a team that’s looking at coming up from Superior [Wis.], and there’s a cancer survivor team from Kenora that [is] looking into coming to our festival,” she noted.
“We’d really like to have a good festival this year,” Armstrong-Thorstad enthused.
“We have ‘Heart of the Continent’ people coming here that want to join in—they’ll be here the two days beforehand.”
Organizers also are looking for crafters, vendors, and buskers to take part in the community event.
They can set up and take part for free (call 274-5773 or e-mail dragonboatff@gmail.com to book your spot).