The West Coast Dragon Boat Society takes a boat full of rookies out onto the water at Canal Waterfront Park during their open house on Sunday, April 22. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Dragon boating draws interest in Port Alberni

Annual open house had participants young and old

Dragon boating arrived in the Alberni Valley almost two decades ago, but the team sport still enjoys popularity today.

The West Coast Dragon Boat Society held its annual open house at Canal Waterfront Park on Sunday, April 22, and drew participants young and old to pick up a paddle and try out the sport.

Donna James, one of the founding members of the society, watched her son paddle in Vancouver years ago, and immediately envisioned a team in the Valley.

VALLEY SENIORS: Donna James has no time to relax

The West Coast Dragon Boat Society was formed in 1999 to bring the sport to Port Alberni, and in 2000, the society raised $22,000 to buy its first boat after a combination of garage sales, bottle drives and raffles. The very first team to hit the water was the Alberni Wave Riders, and then the Sunshine Dragons—a senior team attached to the Sunshine Club, which later opened up to all ages.

“It just grew and grew,” James described.

Today, there are two teams in the Alberni Valley that paddle on Sproat Lake. The Die-Hard Dragons practice Friday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. and Monday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The Sproat Ness Dragons practice Monday and Thursday from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

“We have members who have been doing this for many years,” said society president Gail Horvath. “It’s a great way to socialize and get exercise.”

Dragon boating is open to all ages, she said, and promotes fellowship, as well as exercise.

“You can dragon boat ‘til you’re 90,” added James, a self-described “adrenaline junkie” at 86 years old.

The West Coast Dragon Boat Society will be holding a Ladies Regatta on Sunday, June 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This annual event draws teams from all over the Island to Sproat Lake Provincial Park.

If you are interested in getting involved in dragon boating, you can contact the society at, or find them on Facebook. All equipment is supplied.

Just Posted

Port Alberni’s Walk for Dog Guides has a new look, new route

Bosley’s comes on board as sponsor for May 27 event

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

The famed Martin Mars air tankers continue to draw interest from potential… Continue reading

Alberni RCMP officers honoured for taking drunk driver off the streets

Constables Brian Kenny, Rob Jackson named to Alexa’s Team

Port Alberni man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road on first day of May long weekend

Alberni hosts Island track and field championship

Secondary schools compete at Bob Dailey Stadium

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UBC professor claims victory at B.C. car race

A physics engineering professor had the fastest time during Kelowna hill climb race

MP Karina Gould back to Hill with baby Oliver for electoral reform bill

Gould brought Oliver to work with her as she resumed duties as democratic institutions minister

VIDEO: Footage of 2 shrieking lynx posted by Canadians goes viral

The videos — one shot by a man and his girlfriend — show two lynx sitting face-to-face, shrieking

Teen must repay $37M for starting Oregon wildfire

A teenager who started a major wildfire in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution

Canada’s G7 goal on development: luring private capital to poor nations

G7 finance and international development ministers convene in British Columbia next week

Congressional leaders to review information on Russia probe

Trump said he will “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign

Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home

Montreal-based travel agency says hundreds of Canadians who were stuck in Cuba since a plane crash last week are returning home

As summit looms, North Korean media return to angry tone

North Korean media are stepping up their rhetorical attacks on South Korea and joint military exercises with the United States

Most Read