Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival – Overview

I guess I owe it to everyone that I at least get something up for the big race out West. I’ve been caught up with a bunch of stuff and haven’t had the time to post or update the standings.

So… the big race of the year which happens early in the paddling year. Doesn’t make much sense but everyone’s pretty much accepted it. This is the first year after the Rio Tinto – Alcan “merger”, and there were some people concerned about how that would’ve affected the sponsorship of the event. This was also the 20th anniversary of the event since it started in Vancouver, which they commemorated with collectible pins. This was great for the “old-timers” as it was a throw-back to the events in the past where teams would be trading pins and jerseys back in the day.

The race site was a little sparse continuing the falling trend the event itself and a far cry from how it was in its heyday. The majority of the festival was held in Creekside Park where the main stage was. To be honest, I didn’t spend much time looking around so I can’t really comment on the entertainment or the food. I did hear it was rather expensive with a corn of the cob going for 4 dragon dollars. There seems to a exorbitant amount of people lining up for free samples though.

For the paddlers, with the Racer’s Village on the northside of False Creek and west of the Cirque de Soliel test, it was probably the longest trek from a Racer’s Village to the pre-marshalling area. And the Racer’s Village wasn’t much to write back from either. It seems the amount of space under the army tent was smaller than before and with some tents tagging on their own team tents, it didn’t leave much room. Throw in the fact that the site was mostly on gravel and dust kick-ups, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience.

Racing-side, was a different story. The race grid, although unorthodoxed, provided final races there were exciting to watch with teams finishing their races within seconds between each other. Although there were less teams this year (only 103 mixed teams), competition-wise, it was similar to past years. As usual, the races were run in alternating BuK and Gemini boats.

As expected, FCRCC Mixed A took the Competitive A Championship but it wasn’t the blowout that people were expecting. Mauna Hale (Also known as Mountain Home Canoe Club) and Kai Ikaika, both from Portland, gave the top seed a good run for the money. It wasn’t long before there was an anonymous postings claiming wash riding by the two teams who finished in Lane 5. Others have said that FCRCC Mixed A lost their cool and didn’t run their race that they wanted. Even though they did a sub-2 minute time, Gorging Dragons took 4th place, which may have put a dent in their confidence before they head over to Penang. They may be disappointed but they still have a great race and I’m pretty sure that they’ll build on this as any competitive team will do. Separated by only 1 second, Pemberton Bald Eagles, FCRCC Mixed B, Los Angeles Racing Dragons Black, Edgewater Casino – Without Warning rounded up the rest of the heat. To put everything in perspective… to place on the podium, teams had to do a sub-1:57 and the last place team did a 2:01. This was one of the best races that Vancouver has seen.

Mixed – Competitive A Championship
1. 1:55.150 FCRCC Mixed A
2. 1:55.920 Mauna Hale
3. 1:56.840 Kai Ikaika
4. 1:59.280 Gorging Dragons
5. 2:00.590 Pemberton Bald Eagles
6. 2:00.630 FCRCC Mixed B
7. 2:00.920 Los Angeles Racing Dragons Black
8. 2:01.560 Edgewater Casino – Without Warning

I didn’t get a chance to watch the Women’s Competitive but it was another “as expected” with False Creek Women tookfirst place with Wasabi Women and Pacific Reach coming in second and third respectively.

Women’s Competitive A Championship
1. 2:14.800 False Creek Women
2. 2:17.580 Wasabi Power Surge
3. 2:18.800 Pacific Reach
4. 2:20.400 Wasabi HUGE
5. 2:21.050 Dragon Ladies
6. 2:21.600 Los Angeles Racing Dragons Red
7. 2:27.000 Wasabi Grand Masters – Women
8. 2:29.200 Dragon Runners

For full results, you can visit Dragon Boat West as it seems they’ve managed to get a hold of the final results before the official website.

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