Contributed by Barb Little
The Revelstoke Dam Survivors paddled to their first ever first place finish at the Raymond James Dragon Boat Festival Sept 10–11 in Penticton. At the Go Row BC event, all systems were a go: the water was warm, the skies were clear and sunny and the wind was just a whisper.
In race two the Survivors set a personal best time of 2:20 in the mixed division. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said coach Ginger Shoji. “They dug hard for the last thirty strokes and shot from fifth to third place.”
In race three another boat nearly collided with them causing the Survivors’ steers-person to slip and fall. The boat was forced to stop and start again, clocking in at a disappointing 2:48.
Before the final race, manager Jackie Goodman, along with new recruit Kendra Kent, a seven-year paddling veteran from the coast, took the team through an on land visualization. They lined up in their boat positions, connected by hands to shoulders, eyes closed they were led through a race. “We’ve trained hard all summer,” Goodman told them. “You’ve got the power. You can do this. The other teams have got their eyes on us now.”
Over 90 teams from all over B.C. and Alberta brought 2,300 competitors to Penticton to race a 500-metre course. At the end of the day the fierce competition shaved seconds off incredibly fast times, resulting in a best overall of 2:01 minutes by team O’Kai I’ Kick a U’ass.
Previously content with third places and paddling for fun, something gelled that day. The Survivors amped it up a notch and paddled their butts off to capture first place in the Jade B division with a best time ever of 2:18.
Goodman told her team-mates, “You out shone the full moon. We are now on the festival’s radar as a team to be reckoned with.”
Some of the mixed teams had twelve male paddlers, the maximum allowed, making the Dam Survivors’ win all the sweeter given the team’s ages ranged from twelve to sixty five and they only had five men.
“I’m so proud of you all,” Coach Ginger Shoji told her team, “Seeing you pull together in perfect time and hold the lead the whole way, it was like was watching my babies leave the nest and take flight for the first time. What a great way to finish the season!”
The Dam Survivors will be recruiting in the spring. Everyone is welcome to try it out – especially guys – Shoji says with a twinkle in her eye. “[If] you’re man enough to handle a boatful of women!”