Nanaimo’s Wave Babes dragon boat team sets off for a practice paddle in Nanaimo Harbour Friday in preparation for the annual Nanaimo dragon boat festival

Nanaimo’s Wave Babes dragon boat team sets off for a practice paddle in Nanaimo Harbour Friday in preparation for the annual Nanaimo dragon boat festival

Dragon boat festival draws thousands of racers, spectators

NANAIMO – Lawrence Tang recalls becoming hooked on paddling as he watched the first dragon boat festival 12 years ago.

By the time dragon boat racers roared across the finish line, Lawrence Tang realized two things: there was nothing girly about the sport, and he was hooked – “fully hooked.”

“All the excitement, the competition … you have 20 people doing the exact stroke at the exact same time in order to be at their maximum – there’s no other sport where that’s a requirement,” he said, adding he knew he had to get involved.

That was 12 years ago at the first Save-On-Foods Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival. This week, Tang and his team, the Mentor Mariners, plan to make waves during their 11th race at the annual harbourfront event.

The team will join thousands of spectators and paddlers who are expected to converge on Maffeo Sutton Park for the three-day festival, beginning Friday (July 4). It’s considered one of the city’s largest events, drawing an estimated 14,000 people last year. It’s also the kickoff to a summertime series of festivals, from the Silly Boat Regatta to the Nanaimo Marine Festival and Great International World Championship Bathtub Race.

“It’s just one of those events that make Nanaimo, Nanaimo,” said Ian Niamath, a member of the Dragon Boat Festival Society.

The event, which revolves around the fight to end breast cancer, will start with an invite-only Survivors Party on Friday evening, followed by the Candles of Courage ceremony at Swy-a-lana Lagoon to honour those affected by cancer. Over the weekend, the public will be able to take in entertainment, put on in partnership with Crimson Coast, as well as peruse vendors at the Farmers’ Market and view races.

The Snuneymuxw will hold an official opening ceremony at noon on Saturday and on the last day, survivors will be recognized in a ritual carnation ceremony.

For Barb Parker, a paddler with the Wave Babes, the event is not only a chance for her team to see just how far they’ve come, but a way for them to fundraise for breast cancer equipment through the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation. The team has raised $117,000 for the charity.

“The fundraising part is just as important as the paddling,” Parker said. “I think most of us feel it’s a way to give back to the community.”

For more information, please visit

Just Posted

Nanaimo author B.S. Thompson has released his debut novel, ‘The Book of Nodd.’ (Photo courtesy Nora Funk)
Nanaimo author invites readers into dangerous world of dreams in debut novel

B.S. Thompson unveils ‘The Book of Nodd’ with online launch June 20

Potters Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter present their joint exhibit ‘Dig It’ at Art 10 Gallery until the end of June. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Potters show pieces for home and garden at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter’s show ‘Dig It’ on display until end of June

Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)
Next phase of borrowing approved as Nanaimo fire hall construction ongoing

City of Nanaimo CAO says construction on Fitzwilliam Street hall on schedule and budget

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read