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New competitive dragon boat team looking to add paddlers

The Kamodo Dragons are holding open tryouts May 12 at 11 a.m.
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If you're full of literal fire, you might be a dragon. If instead, you're filled with a metaphorical, competitive fire, you might be a Kamodo Dragon.

The city's new competitive dragon boat racing team is looking to add members, and they'll be holding open tryouts tomorrow (May 12) at the Pioneer Park Boat Launch at 11 a.m.  

Previous experience is not required. Instead, team manager Guy Waddington says they're looking for people who are physically fit, gel well with the team socially and have the right mindset.

"Are you competitive? Do you have a competitive drive?" he says. "If you don't, this is probably not the team for you. We want somebody who comes out and wants to compete and wants to win. They want to have fun as well, but that main thing is, let's get out there and kick some butt."

Waddington and a few others with that competitive edge had talked about starting this team in the past, but it didn't really take off until this year. Their desire was to bring in a few paddlers from outside the current Kamloops Dragon Boat Club. Despite not racing a team of entirely club members, the team is sanctioned by the KDBC.

"That was very important, we didn't want to cause any rifts or interruptions," says Waddington. "We want to work with the club, and I think that's critical to maintain that whole club atmosphere. We still want to come out and practice with the club from time to time, and maintain that presence, so I think it's really important that we don't cause any unnecessary issues. We actually got a really good response, a number of club members signed up."

The Kamodo Dragons are looking to carry around 25 people. A dragon boat has 20 paddlers, one person steering and one drummer, but he's also hoping they can have some reserves.

"That gives us room for injury. you know? We're old, we're aging. I call it levels now, I don't call it age. I've hit level 48," jokes Waddington.

On average, the team's "level" is around late 30s. The youngest members are 22 and the oldest is around 53. You have to be at least 19 to join the team, because they partake in beer gardens at festivals and wouldn't want to have to exclude a member who wasn't of the legal drinking age. There is no maximum age, Waddington says. If you're 80 and can keep up, then "bring it on."

 

At tomorrow's tryout, they'll be looking at candidates' physical fitness, but also intangibles, like "water feel."

"Some people hit the water and they're just naturals at it," says Waddington. "They have a water feel. They put the paddle in and it's just an extension of them. Other people don't. Some people love the idea, but they can't get their coordination to work for nothing."

The team is mixed and under B.C. rules, which means a maximum of 10 men and a minimum of 10 women. The club has had no problem drawing women in the past, but attracting male paddlers has always been a struggle.

Because they're just getting started this year, and will be taking a fair share of people without paddling experience, they aren't planning on doing many festivals in their first year. They're eyeing a Super Sprint (a 250-metre race rather than the usual 500 metres) in Penticton in June as their kick-off event. They may also do some festivals later in the summer, but nothing is set in stone.

The team will be coached by Johnes Ruml. Originally from the Czech Republic, he's won world championships in dragon boating. And Waddington says he'll work this team hard.

"Johnes runs dryland training for us in the winter to maintain our fitness and we curse him all winter, but we love him in the spring because when we hit the water again, and its like we never left."

Tomorrow's tryout takes place right after a KDBC club paddle, so if any members want to stick around and try out, they're welcome to.