Tuesday may have been a holiday for most people, but for the members of the Harrison Paddle Sports Club, it was just another day on the practice calendar.
The new club got their 2013 schedule off to a crisp start by plunging their OC 6 outrigger canoe into the beautiful blue-green waters of Harrison Lake.
“We’re using the OC 6 as an off-season training sport,” said Manfred Preuss, coach of the club’s Crusaders team.
He said the new club is hoping to build up its membership, with regular training in the dragon boats to start in early spring. In addition to the Crusaders team, they are hoping to build up a youth paddling team and a ‘locals’ team. Most of the paddlers now come from other areas in the Fraser Valley, and mainly Chilliwack.
The Crusaders would become the new teams’ mentors, and Preuss would be sharing the coaching with well-known Vancouver coach, Dominic Shew.
Preuss has 12 years of coaching experience, and the Crusaders are currently the fastest team in the Fraser Valley. The Crusaders broke away from the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club in October to create the new club.
The Crusaders paddle on Tuesdays and Sundays, and Preuss would be open to setting up a practice schedule with the new teams as it suits the paddlers.
“I’d like to work around the baseball schedule in Agassiz,” he said, to allow paddlers to be in multiple sports.
While the Crusaders practice year round, with the help of their new OC 6, the youth team would start in the spring and wrap up around the end of the school year.
Not only does Preuss want to expand the number of paddlers in the area, he is also pushing to expand the number of paddling events.
They are a part of the Core Canadian Outrigger Association, and will be hosting the Harrison Halloween Huli on Oct. 19 and 20. Teams will race around Echo Island — a 15 to 18 km course — on the Saturday, and single paddlers will compete in an 11 km race on Sunday. The group is also hoping to create a social event as part of the weekend.
“We really want to build up the off-season,” he said.
And while he said they’re aiming for “paddling excellence,” they also know that there isn’t a boatload of veteran paddlers out there. They’ll have to start from scratch, and build up the new teams.
They’ll also be looking for sponsors, to help keep the membership costs down to encourage more participation.
For more information, phone 604-792-9336.