Paddles up: Dragon Boat BC is back (VIDEO)

The annual festival returns September 18–26

Thor Diakow

It’s been over a year, but B.C.’s famed dragon boats are back on the water.

Dragon Boat BC members haven’t been formally practicing since March 2020 due to COVID-19. However, teams are once again paddling in False Creek.

“It was very difficult; a lot of us missed the community. But everyone’s gone through it together and we’re excited to come back,” says spokesperson Michaela Wong.

Some safety protocols are still in place as the pandemic remains an ongoing issue.

Racing culminates locally with the annual Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival. While the event was cancelled last year, the festival returns September 18-26.

Race weekend will take place September 25 and/or 26, depending on the number of entries. 

The 2021 festival will also feature cultural programming with exhibits, installations, performances, and discussion panels focusing on the theme of re-creation.

Dragon boat races were run for the first time outside of Asia during Expo 86. Since then, the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society has worked to promote diversity and racial equality within the sport.

“We want to make sure that we’re welcoming and also celebrating as many different cultures as possible. Obviously, Dragon Boat is a big part of Chinese culture and I think it’s a great way to celebrate both sport and traditions from that culture,” explains Wong.

Dragon boating has grown rapidly over the years, with an estimated 50 million paddlers worldwide.