Port Moody dragon boat regatta a race against time and tide

Paddling a dragon boat down a 200-metre course is a race against time. For organizers of the second annual Inlet Spring Regatta in Port Moody, it’s also a race against tide.

Keeping the races shorter than the customary 500-m pull allows all 44 teams expected for next Saturday’s event to cram in a full day of racing on the water before the tidal pull turns Port Moody Inlet into an expansive mud flat. And it’s a good way to ease into the busy dragon boating season, said Brian Kenny, the president of the Dogwood Nothin’ Dragon Masters team that is hosting the event.

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Kenny said his group has taken some of the lessons learned from last year’s inaugural regatta, which will take over the boat launch parking area at Rocky Point Park, to make this years event bigger and better.

The field of boats has been expanded from 36, and the more than 1,300 paddlers from as far away as Hope will be able to bide their time between races at an expanded beer garden hosted by nearby Yellow Dog Brewing.

Kenny said the need for the latter was pretty apparent after the beer garden ran out of beer midway through last year’s regatta.

“It wasn’t too bad,” he quipped. “We just ran across the street and got another keg.”

Kenny said the tent village that’s erected as the paddlers’ home for the day when they’re off the water is one of the unique aspects of a dragon boating regatta. 

Like any village, it will have shopping with a retail area offering everything from socks to Tupperware, as well as information kiosks from groups like Abreast in a Boat and Butts in a Boat that promote awareness of breast and prostrate cancers through paddling. There will also be food from half a dozen food trucks, wandering minstrels to provide entertainment and hourly yoga sessions conducted by experienced instructors from Dogwood Pavilion.

Kenny said staying loose and flexible on shore over a long day of racing can make a difference on the water.

“One thing about the human body, it seizes up after awhile, so yoga keeps it going,” he said.

The sprint races won’t just be a challenge for the paddlers just getting their oars wet again after the off-season, they’re also exciting to watch, Kenny said, adding the three or four boats in a heat can usually cover the course in about a minute.

“There’s no time to think,” he said. “There’s no time to get cushy in the seat. If you’re not in sync, you’re not going anywhere.”

• Opening ceremonies for the regatta on April 27 will be held at 7:45 a.m. with the first races scheduled to begin at 8:15. Awards will be presented at about 3:30 p.m. For more information go to www.inletspringregatta.com.

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