TRU’s first dragon boat voyage is a success

TRU students on their first dragon boating voyage. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

TRU students on their first dragon boating voyage. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

If a friend asked you to go dragon boating, would you know what you were signing up for?

You’d be signing up to paddle 15-meter long, 900-pound canoe with 21 other people.

Originating in China, dragon boating has become an international sport that focuses on teamwork and speed. There are 20 paddlers per boat, as well as a steer-person at the back and a drummer at the front. The drummer indicates the cadence at which the paddlers should be rowing.

On the morning of Sept. 20 at Pioneer Park, the Kamloops Dragon Boat Club showed TRU students the basics of dragon boating.

“I was looking at a different experience to offer students here at TRU. It’s something we haven’t planned in the past,” Pina Russo, recreation co-ordinator at TRU, said.

TRU has never had its own dragon boating club.

“One of my goals is to work with community. This event is with the Kamloops Dragon Boating Club. I approached them and they agreed to run this session with us,” Russo said.

The students signed up before the event, and paid a $5 fee for access to the equipment and instruction.

Participants donned life jackets and practiced paddling inside beached dragon boats before they hit the river. There were 16 people in the boat, a combination of instructors and students.

“Some people are afraid to try new things, but you [have to remember] there’s a lot of us who haven’t tried this before and are willing to learn. It’s just about getting over that fear factor. Recreation encompasses fun and learning, so this event specifically is for fun,” Russo said.

Russo also remarked that she would run the event again, provided there was a student interest.

Kevin Bronnimann, a TRU science graduate who is continuing his studies, showed up to give dragon boating a try for the first time.

“I just wanted to try out something new. I kayaked many years ago, but only a little bit. I want to get on the water, and it’s fun.

“They said [the boats] are pretty stable. With kayaking you’d be rolling more,” Bronnimann said.

Corrie Belanger is in her fourth year of a bachelor of science degree.

“I’m interested in trying new things and I saw it advertised so I decided to try it. I’ve been kayaking but never dragon boating,” Belanger said.