ELKWATER, AB – Dragonboat racing is one of the fastest growing aquatic sports in the world.
With a solid base in Alberta’s Badlands, Saturday served as a chance to attract more people to the water and to test out the lengthy boats.
The Medicine Hat Dragonboat Association and Team Prairie Fire held demonstrations on Saturday at Elkwater Lake, in collaboration with Cypress Hills’ Park Day.
Groups of 20 or 22 were taken onto the lake and placed in the boats, with instructors giving the rowers a tutorial on how to pilot the dragonboats.
Connie Matson, director for Team Snapdragons, said it’s a new experience for many people, even if they’ve been rowing on the water before.
“It’s totally different than kayaking or canoeing,” said Matson. “The stroke is different, it’s a team partnership, it’s really fun to go out and do. It’s a lot of hard work, but we have a lot of fun doing it and the camaraderie is just fantastic.”
The Medicine Hat Dragonboat Association is comprised of three female teams, including Sisterpower, Snapdragons, and Thunderstrokes, with all three practising on Elkwater Lake.
Team Prairie Fire meanwhile, is a mixed squad that paddles on Klaudts Dam.
Matson said it’s really a sport that anyone can pick up and learn.
“I think it’s really a nice sport for any age,” said Matson. “I find that we’ve got young paddlers, and we have senior paddlers. So, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it fits in, like it really fits in. It’s not one of these [sports] where it’s just the young kids.”
Demonstration races are held throughout the year in Elkwater, anyone interested in joining the Medicine Hat club can visit medhatdragonboat.ca.