Dragon boating has been a bit of a roll reversal for me. I spent the summer river guiding on the San Juan in Utah with an organization that specializes in bringing youth on the river, teaching them both how to enjoy nature while respecting it and how to do things like paddle. But these first few weeks back in Squamish have been my turn to learn.
Dragon boating is a form of racing that includes a large team of paddlers sitting two by two in a canoe-like boat captained by a caller and steered by a person in the back known as the tiller. I didn’t even know the sport existed until my roommate, a fine-tuned dragon boating machine, introduced meto it a few weeks ago. He recently connected with the local Squamish Dragon Boat Association and made practices accessible to students. Thanks to him, Quest will probably have its own team in the Spring!
I’m not really sure what I was expecting when I was heading to the first practice, but it was definitely a surprise to see that the four of us who made it down the hill were the only people remotely within our age range. The club was almost exclusively comprised of middle-aged Squamptonites, all of whom were awesome. Aside from a few exceptions (including the Quest community), I have never felt more immediately welcome within a group of people. The team was extremely gracious and happy to have us there the moment we showed up.
Another thing I should mention: they totally outpaced me. I came into practice with some confidence based on my background, all of which was shattered once we started paddling. It wasn’t so bad at first. However, my lack of technique rapidly sapped the energy out of me. By the end I was covered in sweat and totally winded, surrounded by people over twice my age still going strong. I shouldn’t have expected much else considering that most of them had been doing this for years, nonetheless it was still humbling.
All of it has been a great experience so far. I’ve loved the opportunity to become more integrated into the Squamish community and connect with an amazing group of people that I would likely never had met if it weren’t for the sport. Our next practice is Tuesday and I for one am extremely excited to get back in the boat and on the water, gently nestled between the mountains that form Howe Sound.