Outrigger canoe race happens on Sproat Lake Aug. 2/15

Long distance races kick off at Sproat Lake Provincial Park. The public is welcome to come and watch.

Tourists from Richmond

Tourists from Richmond

Sproat Lake will be a busy place on Sunday (Aug. 2).

At the Sproat Lake Watersports Association on Stirling Arm, the wakeboard provincials continue. And up Taylor Arm, the first outrigger canoe change race in Canada since 2010 will take place.

A change race is traditionally 42 kilometres long and involves team members switching in and out of the boat in the water. There will also be a 22-km short course change race for race teams new to the sport.

“Sproat Lake is the perfect venue for a change race,” organizer and outrigger paddler Marianne Pilon said. “Duncan is cold and Shawnigan Lake is just too busy. Taylor Arm is nice and long. They’re (races) 42 kilometres long and you can’t be worried about running into people the whole time.”

Change races used to occur at Sproat Lake, but haven’t for perhaps a decade, Pilon said.

This will also be the first time a short course change race is run, she added.

Pilon and her Ocean River Paddling Club teammates from Victoria as well as those from the Gorging Dragons arranged Sunday’s race as well as the demo day on Saturday (Aug. 1) on the dock at Sproat Lake Landing. Members of the public were invited to try outrigger canoes, dragon boats and stand-up paddleboarding.

The paddling events make up the non-motorized portion of the Sproat Lake Regatta—the motorized boat races took place July 18–19.

The change races will start at 11 a.m. from the beach at Sproat Lake Provincial Park. Racers will be there at least an hour early to rig their boats. The narrow, six-seat outrigger canoes are distinctive because they have an arm sticking off the left side of the vessel, called an ama, that helps balance the canoe. This type of canoe originates from the Hawaiian islands but has become a popular competitive sport in North America.

Teams will start changing out paddlers after 30 minutes and will do so in the water on the way up to a buoy on Taylor Arm and back.

To see a map of the race course, go online to http://www.orpc.ca/race-schedule.html.

editor@albernivalleynews.com