A wave of excitement filled the air as the beat of a drum kept time for a crew of dragon boat paddlers providing the rhythm they needed to push their way eastward up the West Arm of Kootenay Lake last weekend.
The Kootenay Rhythm Dragons brought the boat ashore in Four Mile for a catered bunch at coach Puleng Pratt’s beach front home. Refueled, the crew forged onward to Six Mile, before returning to the boat’s denning ground close to Nelson, where Donna Wright generously houses the enormous boat.
Former club director Mary Walters said the group was started in 2004 for breast cancer survivors. This season there were 89 members registered and the membership level is pretty stable around the 85 mark from season to season as people come and go.
Mary Walters (front right) is one of the founding members of the Kootenay Rhythm Dragons which began in 2004 for breast cancer survivors. The club now boasts 89 members and three teams. The season begins again in April and new members are very welcome to join. Tamara Hynd photos
The boat holds 20 paddlers, plus a drummer and one more at the rudder. The KRD have three teams- Ladies of the Lake and Sisters insync are competitive and the third is recreational.
The last paddle of the season also held as sense of accomplishment of a season well done.
Walters said they they did well at various festivals they attended this season in Lethbridge, Harrison, Kamloops and Penticton. It was in the Okanagan that their team earned a medal in the diamond division, which is one from the top platinum division.
Walters said there were eleven breast cancer survivor boats competing at Penticton, equating to an inspiring 242 survivors.
Registration for 2016 is in April, followed immediately by dry land training to teach newcomers the basics.
“We are on the lake the first weekend of May,” said paddler Sarah Quayle.
Coach Puleng Pratt (second from right) says her musical sense makes it easy for her to have a steady rhythm as she beats the drum to help the crew keep time. The paddlers strive to touch their paddles to the water in unison at each beat of the drum.