‘Largest Super Sprints ever’: More than 1,000 paddlers to take to Victoria’s Gorge waterway for dragon boat races

'Largest Super Sprints ever': More than 1,000 paddlers to take to Victoria's Gorge waterway for dragon boat races
Dragon boat race file photo.

A record number of athletes from across Vancouver Island are tapped to race in Greater Victoria this weekend, as dragon boats envelop local waters for the 2024 Fairway Gorge Super Sprints regatta.

The one-day event will be held on Sunday, May 26, and organizers say more than 1,000 paddlers are expected to participate in 200-metre sprint races on the Gorge Waterway. They’re excited because it’s a new attendance record that surpasses pre-COVID numbers.

“This is FGPC’s largest Super Sprints ever; the number of competing teams suggests a return to pre-COVID dragon-boat attendance records,” says Erik Ages, general manager of the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club Society. 

According to organizers, this year’s event comes as the paddling club celebrates its 10th anniversary. They add that team sports are rebounding in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“Paddlesports may be turning a corner in their post-COVID recovery as people return to team sports, and as dragon boat clubs rebuild,” they say.

Best places to watch

Organizers say spectators and athletes alike can enjoy “great viewing opportunities” from the Selkirk Trestle and the shore in and around the club, located on Jutland Road in the Selkirk Waterfront community.

Registration for the event is now closed, according to the club’s website, which also has the full race schedule and a course map.

There are 36 races in total, and the first race, a women’s heat, starts at 9 a.m. All teams will race three times throughout the day, with medals awarded to the fastest in the B, A and grand final medal heats of the mixed and women’s divisions.

Following Sunday’s event, two more dragon boat regattas are happening this summer. The new South Island Dragon Boat Festival is happening July 13-14, while the Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Festival is set for August 24-25.

Find more details about the upcoming events here.

On its website, the Canadian Dragon Boat Festival Society explores the history of dragon boats, saying, “…as a cultural sport, it necessarily maintains roots in both culture and sport.”

READ ALSO: Island dragon boat paddlers join Team Canada, take home gold at World Championships

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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