It was a perfect weekend to race a dragon.
The Save-On-Foods Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival held its 10th anniversary celebration on calm seas, under sunny skies, this past weekend at Maffeo Sutton Park.
“The weather brought out the best in everyone,” said Paul Shorting, vice-president of the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival Society. “The water was perfect. It was flat calm, there was no chop and it was perfect racing weather.”
The conditions made for some high-speed sprints in the harbour.
“It’s a great feat to go out and whether you come fourth place or first place, just to be out there, they’re contributing to a great cause,” Shorting said the day after the festival. “They’re all leaving here feeling a great accomplishment. I’m sure their bodies are hurting today.”
The number of teams was down a little from past years, but Shorting suggested that has to do with the economy and travel costs, saying every festival is seeing a similar decline. Over the next couple of weeks organizers will add up the funds that were raised for the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation.
“Whether we’re down a little bit or not much at all, at the end of the day we’re going to write a cheque out to the hospital society and everyone’s a winner here,” Shorting said.
Nanaimo’s waterfront was as popular a venue as ever, he said, as lots of first-time festival-goers helped make for the largest-ever opening-ceremonies crowd. Another highlight of the weekend was an Elvis impersonator on Sunday morning who led a gospel church service.
Out on the water, Victoria’s Gorging Dragons won the main event, the mixed platinum A final, with a time of one minute, 54.94 seconds.
The Puppy Love team won the mixed platinum B final, Chix With Stix won the women’s platinum A and the Saggin’ Dragons won the women’s platinum B.
The Abreast with Fort-itude team placed first in the breast cancer survivors’ A final, and the Abreast Deas Divas and Angels Abreast won the breast cancer survivors’ B and C finals, respectively.
Other teams to win their divisions were the Bastion Dragons, Na Max Sala, Pussy Cats, Seventh Wave, Gorge Us Gals, Sea Gals, Raise a Little Swell, Cowichan Valley Jolly Dragons, Abreast in Richmond, Black Sheep, Fraser Dragons, Fort Langley Canoe Club Fort Fusion and the Mackenzie Mussels.