Dragon boat festival marks end of season for padders

Facing challenges is something the Robusters know well

Kootenay Robusters

The Kootenay Robusters Dragon Boat Team successfully completed their paddling season at the Penticton festival Sept. 9 -11.

As always, the Penticton Festival Committee organized a very well run, fun, competitive event. On Friday evening there was a special western-themed dinner with dancing and entertainment for all survivor teams. The Robusters had great fun improving their line dancing skills.

Due to Saturday’s high winds, officials altered the race course to allow all races to proceed. Sunday finals, semi-finals and the survivor races were completed on the full course.

The Robusters paddled two really good races in the preliminary rounds of the festival, ending on Saturday with a 12th place placement of the 47 teams in the competitive women’s division. The team continued to race well although it was blown off course and had to stop during the final race to avoid a collision with another boat.

It was an amazing feeling to get going again and cross the finish line at full speed.

Trish Ostlund, Robuster coach, summed it up well. “I found that final race much more exhilarating, exciting, challenging and rewarding than if everything had gone according to plan. I do believe it was the best thing that could have happened to us, to make us a stronger, more resilient team, and to reaffirm our commitment to one another.

“You don’t get that from smooth sailing; you need to face challenges together and get through them.”

Facing challenges is something the Robusters know well.

In the Penticton breast cancer survivor race, the eight Robuster survivors joined three other teams needing paddlers.  Paddling with another team in this very special race was a moving experience. It became less of a competitive race and more of joining and supporting of each other.

This support continued in the following carnation ceremony, where paddlers and supporters toss pink carnations into the lake to remember those fighting breast cancer and others who have lost the battle with this disease.

Penticton was a great festival. The Robusters ended the competition 16th of 47 teams but much more importantly, “It was filled with many special moments as we drew together, had a laugh, a cry, and several three-minute dance parties on the beach. And a couple of dance parties on the water!”

Although the team is winding down its paddling season, the Robusters welcome any new members (both those who have had breast cancer and those who have not) interested in joining the team for fitness and fun.