Dragon Boating – False Creek, BC

I was long overdue for a trip back to my old schoolyard, and after missing all of the Olympic festivities, I decided to make the hike out west while prices were reasonable and exams were still a distant forethought for my student-body friends.

I had a number of things set to accomplish in Vancouver, and along my search for sports, my buddy Jay suggested dragon boating. Like myself, Jay had never been dragon boating, but had friends on a team called Riptide who accepted as us their own and taught us the ropes.

Our journey started at the False Creek Yacht Club, found right across from Granville Island. For the mid and eastern Canadian readers who are unaware, Granville Island is Vancouver’s version of the St. Lawrence Market, combined with the buskers and arts of downtown Montreal. (It’s also the birthplace of Granville Island Winter Ale, a brew I highly recommend indulging in to bring some cheer into your winter months). Aside from that, we had to deal with the backdrop of GM Place (aka Canada Hockey Place), BC Place, Science World, and the mountains of northern Vancouver. Basically, there was a lot to distract us from the skill we were attempting to learn, but we persevered.

As we set out on the water, we had all of the newbies, four of us in total, riding at the back of the boat with one veteran. The idea is to keep your strokes on pace by looking up front, so if they had us rookies up there we’d be throwing everybody off time and the boat would be doing figure-eights. Putting the regulars up front allowed us to watch them as we worked to keep pace. But there was a secondary consequence to this set-up – we were told before showing up that we may get a little wet, “splashes happen” – but my goodness, four first timers side-by-side in a dragon boat and I swore I was a dodo being thrown off Noah’s Ark.

We switched sides half-way through our workout, something that was optional, but my right arm insisted. I was concerned about being able to jump in and keep up with the group right away, but if you fatigue or start to fall behind, you can keep more of your paddle out of the water to lessen the load, or take shorter strokes. Or, if you’re really concerned about it, you can say that you run a website where you’re trying out a bunch of new sports and that you have to take a break from paddling to get some footage from the front and the back of the boat. Free ridin’! (Sorry Jay).