Kitimat’s Northern Spirit all-women dragon boat team won gold at the 25th annual Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival held this weekend.
The festival, held from August 9 to 11, is one of Victoria’s most spectacular summer festivals and the only dragon boat festival in Canada to take place in a working harbour.
Victoria has hosted thousands of paddlers at the Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival for more than 20 years featuring three days of unique sport, culture and fun which is also a community fundraising event for the BC Cancer Foundation.
Northern Spirit’s team includes 25 women from varied backgrounds with varied life experiences.
“Some of our team members are young and some of them a little older. We are mothers, sisters, wives, grandmothers, caregivers and lovers of life – we are strength in unity,” said team member Carole Gagnon.
This year’s regatta saw 24 teams register for the women’s division competing in four 500-metre races over the weekend.
Northern Spirit paddled its way to the finals with race times of 2:16.884 and 2:19.543 on Saturday, and a Sunday morning race time of 2:13.049, the team’s best time ever.
The boat crossed the finish line in the Women’s Diamond A Final Race with a time of 2:22.567 in a very close race.
She said the northwest featured strongly this year, with the Northwest Wave Riders team, an all-women’s team from Kitimat, Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers, finishing the Diamond A Final Race in fourth.
Northern Spirit co-coaches and paddlers, Candace Seaby and Carole Gagnon, were absolutely delighted and so proud of the team’s success at the regatta.
“These ladies are simply amazing – as a team, we believed and we took up the challenge by practicing hard during a very short season that began in mid-April.
“The team’s dedication and efforts in working together as one contributed towards the success of our vibrant, diverse and fun team,” said Gagnon. “Northern Spirit was proud to represent Kitimat and to bring home gold.”
She thanked the team’s sponsors, the community and their families for their support, and said the team is looking forward to another dragon boat season in 2020.