The Gorging Dragons Senior C and Senior B Women’s teams from VI Paddling won gold and bronze medals respectively at the Canadian National Dragon Boat Championships, last weekend in Welland, Ont. Points were earned over 200 metres, 500m and 2,000m race distances.
“Best in Canada!” said head coach Tom Arnold of the over 60 Senior C paddlers. “This is a first for any Vancouver Island club.”
The B women, ages 50 to 60, earned their third bronze in national competition against stiff opposition.
Along with Gorging Dragons Senior C Open and Senior C Mixed, all four of the Vancouver Island Club’s teams qualified to compete in the Club Crew World Dragon Boat Championships, a biennial event being held next year in Szeged, Hungary.
To qualify for world club crew competition, a team must finish among the top five in Canada in its age category, and field essentially the same roster of members the following year at the worlds. VIP has sent teams to the two previous Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy and Adelaide, Australia, coming home from the last competition with three golds, three silvers and a bronze.
What makes VIP so exceptional, says Arnold, is that it draws all its members from a 460-kilometre-long catchment area with a population of 749,000. By comparison, the centres that offer its strongest competition include the Lower Mainland (2.8 million), Greater Toronto (six million), Montreal and Ottawa.
Gorging Dragon paddlers include members from the Valley.