If you are a woman who loves being on the water and loves being part of a team, the Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club is looking for you.
Entering its fifth season, the club is currently recruiting for new paddlers.
Susan Erickson, a Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club board member and team co-captain, is one of the women who started the club. When she moved back to Ladysmith from Vancouver five years ago, she was surprised there was no dragon boating in town, so she and a friend put out an ad to see if anyone was interested in the sport, and the club was born.
The Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club currently has two teams, and while the team that paddles Tuesday and Thursday evenings is full, the club is recruiting new paddlers for the second team, which will be paddling Monday evenings and Thursday mornings.
Besides twice-weekly paddles, joining the Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club offers the opportunity to take courses in coaching and steering, a well as the option to paddle in two regattas later in the summer. The club has a racing team called Poetry in M’ Ocean as well.
Erickson says the dragon boating season typically runs from the end of April to mid- to late-September, depending on the weather.
Right now, about 45-50 women belong to the Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club, and Erickson says it’s “a really nice, diverse group of women.”
Club members range in age from their thirties to their seventies.
Erickson would put the people first in a long list of the benefits of dragon boating.
“I think it’s good for fitness,” she noted. “It’s nice to be on a team and paddling in our beautiful harbour. It’s gorgeous and the sea life out there is great. I think it’s spectacular scenery. It’s also a wonderful group of women. They are women I wouldn’t have met anywhere else. We have a lot of really fabulous women; I think that’s what I love. It expands your friendships and your networks.”
Erickson says the club doesn’t necessarily make being social a big priority, but they do find ways to be social.
The club keeps its boat at the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina, and the members try to do a bit of volunteering for the society, and sometimes, they have barbecues on the dock.
“We try to give back to the community,” said Erickson. “We give an annual donation for breast cancer research because dragon boating was started for breast cancer survivors. We’re not a breast cancer team, but we do have a number of women who are survivors. We also take it a bit further and do an annual beer and burger fundraiser at the end of June.”
The club also participates in the Ladysmith Light Up parade every year.
The Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club is a non-profit society with a board of directors that meets regularly, and the club pays coaches to work with the teams once a week to teach members the proper strokes to avoid injury.
The club’s dragon boat is 46 feet long and 840 pounds, and it can hold 22 women at a time, which includes a coach and a steer-person
Erickson says you need some level of fitness to join dragon boating — “not a high level but some fitness and some stamina to be able to paddle for an hour and a half.”
New paddlers can try one or two sessions for free to see if they like the sport, and once people decide to join, the club can loan out paddles and life jackets.
The dragon boat teams generally paddle all over the Ladysmith Harbour.
“Some nights, the town is so misty and foggy and the trees are so green and lush; those are some of my favourite paddles,” said Erickson. “You see Ladysmith from a bit of a different perspective.”
The Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club has a few openings for new paddlers this season, and the club will be holding a registration session Tuesday, March 4 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Ladysmith Maritime Society (LMS) Office in the blue Expo Building at 610 Oyster Bay Dr.
Fees for the season are $125.
There will also be a meeting Tuesday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ladysmith Maritime Society Marine Welcome Centre.
The Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club hopes to launch Tuesday, April 22.
If anyone is interested in joining the Ladysmith Dragon Boat Club but can’t make the in-person registration, they can contact Susan Erickson at 250-245-0474 or sv_namaste@hot