Campbell River’s Terry Jacques has been traveling down to Comox twice a week to participate in the sport she loves for some time now.
It’s wet, it’s loud, it’s passionate, it’s intense and it’s about camaraderie and teamwork.
It’s dragon boating.
For those not familiar with the sport of dragon boating, it is an ancient sport dating back over 2,000 years. Imagine 20 paddlers, steersperson in back, drummer pounding on a huge drum in front powering a 45’ dragon boat through the waters of the Campbell River estuary.
“But there are dragon boat teams right here in Campbell River,” you may be saying to yourself. “Why is she going to Comox?”
And you’d be right. There are dragon boat teams here.
Campbell River has both River Spirit and BraveHearts. Jacques used to row for River Spirit, in fact, but when she tried mixed dragon boating in the Comox Valley about five years ago, she got hooked. And both River Spirit and BraveHearts are women’s teams.
Part of what got her hooked on mixed dragon boating was undoubtedly the influence of dragon boat coach Bill Jay.
“Bill is amazing,” Jacques says. “He’s paddled internationally – mainly with a team out of Victoria which is one of the world’s best. But more than that, he’s just a great guy with a lot of passion for this great sport, and it’s pretty infectious.”
But besides wanting Campbell River to have a mixed team to go with its two women’s teams, Jacques says, it’s really about growing the sport in the region.
“One of the main goals of this is that we’re very passionate about getting Campbell River more involved in the sport.”
Back when she was still with River Spirit, Jacques and two other members of the team, started Race the River – Campbell River’s dragon boat regatta held each summer – and she sees the creation of a third team here just the next phase in increasing the sport’s presence in town.
“The Comox Valley, at one point, had something like nine teams,” she says. “They still have at least five, and I know we can get a culture of rowing going here, too. I mean, just look at all the paddle boarders and kayakers and canoers and those kind of people we have here. It’s time we get another dragon boat team, as well.”
The new team’s name is simply Up. It’s a word that is used by coach Jay in his rowing strategy, “but it also has a lot of other connotations,” Jacques says. “It’s a very uplifting and positive word that can be used in a lot of ways, all of which are positive and empowering.”
The first gathering of the prospective team will be May 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Tyee Club out on the spit.
“I’d love to have a full team by then, if it’s possible, so we can get started – I know we already have a lot of people interested, but what we really need is more men,” she says. “It would be nice if we could get men filling half the boat.”
And don’t worry if you’ve never rowed before, she says.
They’ll make sure you’re trained up before they start pounding the drum.
Anyone interested in joining up with the new team is asked to contact Jacques by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you send your inquiry, let her know if you have a paddle or a life jacket so she knows how many she needs to have on hand May 24.