Neal Gregory and Cindy Braslins

Outrigger canoes add to paddling experience

Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club adds canoes to its dragon boat fleet

Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club (FVDBC) members have paddled Harrison’s waters for the past 14 years. They’re a familiar site as the teams work hard and practice for regattas held throughout the summer dragon boat season.

But lately, you might not recognize a FVDBC member by their boat. The club broadened their paddling focus last year to include outrigger canoes. They purchased a six-person outrigger canoe and, several weeks ago, bought a two-person outrigger canoe to add to the fleet.

The dragon boat season runs from March through September. But the FVDBC has many members who want to continue paddling throughout the year.

“We’ve been incorporating outrigger canoes as an alternative to dragon boating when the season is over,” explains Scott Farrell, president of the FVDBC.

The outrigger canoes, or OC’s as they’re often called, are also great year-round for paddlers who want to be out on the lake more than the FVDBC team’s practice schedules. While the paddling skills are transferable, the OC races themselves differ from dragon boating dramatically.

“Dragon boating is a sprint. Outrigger canoe races are a marathon,” describes Farrell, comparing the approximate two and a half minute dragon boat race times to the varied outrigger canoe race times, some lasting from one to two hours per race.

The FCDBC held an outrigger canoe seminar last Saturday, April 18 at Rendall Park. Club members bravely tested their skills in the tippy boats on Harrison Lake and enjoyed some time in the sunshine. Under OC director Greg Kohlruss’s watchful eye, club members Neal Gregory and Cindy Braslins carefully worked together to navigate the new two-person outrigger canoe, smiling as a fellow club member took an accidental dip in Harrison’s cold waters off a one-person outrigger canoe.

The FCDBC is organizing an outrigger canoe race day in Harrison Hot Springs this August, more details to follow. They are also busy getting ready for their 11th annual dragon boating regatta, scheduled for Saturday, July 25.

The FVDBC has seven varied teams, including a junior team and masters team. They are always on the lookout for new paddlers. Farrell urges locals to try out this wonderful sport.

“It’s not just about the physical activity,” he explains. “It’s about the team aspect, the camaraderie of it.”

If you are interested in trying out for one of the FVDBC dragon boat’s teams, or want to learn more about their outrigger canoes, go to http://www.fvdbc.com/