PENTICTON - The Skaha Lake shoreline was a busy place this weekend in Penticton, as the city welcomed thousands to the 15th annual running of the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival.
“It was a great festival, probably one of our best,” Race Director Don Mulhall says. “Everything ran perfectly, races were on time, there were no real problems at all from an organizational point of view,” he says.
The weather also cooperated, except for some winds that picked up a bit on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 13.
Mulhall says 2,100 athletes attended this year’s event, creating an athlete’s village at Skaha Lake Park he says was too large to properly photograph.
“Too big, too many trees, not that that’s a bad thing,” he says. “I was trying to get some photographs taken for our website, and I wanted to show the scope of the paddler’s village, but it was huge, it really took up a lot of space in the park.”
Mulhall doesn’t have this year’s economic impact figures handy, but based on an economic assessment done on the festival five years ago, the two day event brought $2.3 million to the city.
“This year was our second biggest year, with 82 teams competing,” he says. Teams came from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Calgary, Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon Arm and Nelson, all over the province.
Mulhall says the festival has always had a strong following of breast cancer survivors, with eleven teams entered this year.
“It’s a sport for everybody, but breast cancer survivors have made it their sport of choice,” he says. This year, home team Survivorship won in the breast cancer survivorship category this year, ousting the long time champion team from Edmonton.
The top mixed team winner was CDBC Crew Yahoo, while top women’s team was Nusa’Lon Dragons from Nanaimo.
The top finishing Penticton team for women was “Desparate Housewives” who came in fourth in the top final, and the top mixed Penticton team was the Peach City Dragons, who finished first in the diamond B final. The Dragons were also the top Okanagan team overall.
Mulhall says those interested in taking up the sport, there are learn to paddle days in the spring.
“People can come out and try it, see if they like it, there are lots of teams looking for paddlers, or we can form new teams,” he says.
For a complete list of winning teams check out the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival website.
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