The Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club heads to Kawkawa Lake

It's that time of year again — dragon boaters are alive and well on the lakes of the Fraser Valley

Trish Kjemhus

For over a decade, four dedicated Hope paddlers have been making the trek to Harrison Lake at least twice a week to hone their dragon-boating abilities. For the next few days it will be a much easier commute, as their boat will be docked at Camp Kawkawa until Sunday evening.

The Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club brought a boat to Kawkawa Lake last year for the first time, as a way of showcasing the sport to locals — including letting newcomers go for a paddle under the direction of coach, Trish Kjemhus.

Club vice president, Dale Kjemhus (pronounced “SHAY mus”) said on Monday that the boat would be trailered up on Tuesday and teams would be practicing on the weekday evenings, starting Wednesday.

After their Sunday morning practices, the public are welcome to join the club at the Camp Kawkawa dock to learn about the sport and go out for a paddle.

“We’ve got about a dozen people from Hope now, who travel to Harrison for training,” said Kjemhus. “We have three mixed teams, Das Kraken, Thunder Strokers and the Pirates and two women’s teams, the Spitfires and the Seraphins.” Other team-mates come from Agassiz-Harrison, Mission and Chilliwack.

Hope’s most-veteran paddlers, the two Kjemhuses and Peter and Linda Bailey are on the Thunder Strokers and Trish coaches the Strokers and the Seraphins.

She’s the one you’ll often see at the bow of the boat, beating the drum and yelling passionately at her team of up to 24 paddlers.

“Trish and Linda started at about the same time (in 2005) and Peter and I followed about half a year later,” recalled Kjemhus. They start dragon boat training in March and close the season in September — though outrigger canoe, or “OC” can keep the hardier paddlers on the water right through the winter months.

“The club now has three six-person OCs, two two-person and one single,” said Kjemhus.

Sunday, a team will be practicing in the dragon boat from 10 a.m. till noon, then they’ll be ready to work with the public from 1 p.m. to 3 pm. It’s all free, with life jackets and paddles provided. Kjemhus said their junior club is for age 13 to 17 but underage kids could go along for a ride, if they wished — and had a parent’s approval.

“Last year, we had about 15 or 20 people come out and try it,” he said. “It’s quite a different stroke than for kayaking or canoeing.

You’re keeping the paddle out in front of you and pulling it out of the water at mid-thigh.

“You’ve got to be pretty precise with your timing, too, with so many in the boat,” he added.

Esther Davies would agree on that point. She and her family went down for the inaugural trial last year and she said she had a great time… except, “I got out of sync a few times — but they were my family, so it was okay,” she said, laughing. “It was pretty hard work — but my daughter Cindy really enjoyed it.” Perhaps it was the rest of them who were out of sync?

“No, I’m pretty sure it was me,” Davies playfully confessed.

This Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. — at the Camp Kawakawa dock at the northeast end of the lake.

Maybe bring a towel.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack trustee removed from committees, district invites

Barry Neufeld’s censure involves four forms of reprimand due to recent Facebook post

Chilliwack RCMP support Special Olympics athletes

This year’s torch run aiming to raise $30,000 for B.C.’s athletes

FVRD activates its emergency operations centre to monitor Fraser River levels

FVRD activates its emergency operations centre to monitor Fraser River levels

Body of Maple Ridge man recovered near Harrison Lake

21-year-old last seen on May 16 when he fell into Silver Creek

Missing since 2016, Marie Stuart’s remains found in Abbotsford

Pregnant Abbotsford woman was last seen in December 2016

B.C. retirement home creates innovative ‘meet-up’ unit for elderly to see family face-to-face

Innovative ‘purpose-built’ unit keeps residents safe when seeing family for first time since COVID-19

Fraser Valley libraries to offer contactless hold pick-ups

FVRL Express — Click, Pick, Go service to be offered at all 25 locations starting June 1

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

United Way allocating $6.6M in federal funding to help with food security, youth mental health

Applications from Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland charities being accepted for the emergency funding

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read