Enter the dragon

As teams descend on Victoria this weekend for the annual dragonboat festival, one squad takes its first steps into the dragon’s den

  • Aug. 17, 2012 5:00 p.m.

Maximus Power dragonboat team members Suzette Aquisap

Parm Ollek’s arms and legs are burning.

Gripping her wooden paddle, she plunges it into the water alongside 19 other paddlers, their dragonboat knifing through the waterway.

Despite the pain, final preparations for the Canada Dry Victoria Dragonboat Festival are going well and Ollek feels fortunate to be on the water.

“It is totally fun. I am higher than a kite, I really am,” she said. “I am experiencing something totally out of my box.”

You wouldn’t know it, but the business systems co-ordinator for Maximus Canada had never done anything athletic in her life.

Ollek and most of her teammates spend their days at a desk – she doesn’t even remember the last time she felt like part of a team. That all changed a year ago after discovering dragonboat racing as a volunteer.

“I couldn’t believe what a wonderful event it was. The energy, it was so positive,” she said of last year’s festival.

“I absolutely loved it and I walked away that weekend and said, ‘I really like this. I want to do this.’”

Ollek decided to form her own boat, recruiting colleagues at work to form the newly minted Maximus Power, named after their company.

The team takes to the waters of the Inner Harbour this weekend (Aug. 17, 18 and 19) focused on performing inside and outside the boat – paddling in unison inside it, and raising funds for the B.C. Cancer Foundation outside it.

“My goal at the end of the day isn’t about winning and losing at all,” Ollek said. “It is a matter of being a part of something and giving back.”

Coach Paul Barton has been quietly impressed with the team.

Barton, a first-time coach, appreciates the commitment each paddler invested into the twice-weekly practices and looks forward to a strong performance come race day.

“They are raring to go,” Barton said. “It has been great.  I had no idea what to expect from them, but from the first minute it was eager happy faces. It has been an amazing experience.”

Despite less than eight weeks to train, the rookie boat placed second in its heat at the Gorge Fest Dragon Boat Regatta last weekend and hope to gel even more in time for this weekend.

“Dragonboating is the definition of teamwork. If you don’t interact as a team in the boat, there is a negative effect,” Barton said.

“Everyone feels great about contributing to someone other than themselves. This is hard. After every practice they are burnt out, but they are smiling. It is great.”

Ollek is smiling, despite the aching in her body. As captain of Maximus Power she is focused on the team, a team that spreads much farther than just the 20 people on the boat.

“My values are such that I want to give back to the community anyway I can,” she said.

“It is in my heart to do these things. It is what I believe in.”

 

Weekend schedule

Today (Aug. 17)

1 p.m. – Eye Dotting Ceremony, Ship Point

5-9 p.m. – Light of Courage Lantern Celebration, Ship Point

9 p.m. – Lighting of Lights of Courage, Ship Point

Saturday (Aug. 18)

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. – Dragonboat races, Inner Harbour

8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. – All-day entertainment, kids activities, Ship Point

Sunday (Aug. 19)

8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. – Dragonboat races, Inner Harbour

Noon – Breast Cancer Survivors’ race and carnation toss, Inner Harbour

8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. – All-day entertainment, kids activities, Ship Point

For more information, please go online to victoriadragonboat.com

Just Posted

Greater Victoria teachers experienced more than 30 incidents of violence from students in one month

Shuttered behavioural programs, lack of resources creates challenges for local schools

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

Esquimalt High robotics team heads to international competition

The Esquimalt Atom Smashers will participate in the FIRST Robotics Canada competition

Island playoffs underway at Oak Bay High

Home team vies for fifth straight Island title

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read