Laoyam Eagles paddle their way to victory 

Some boats were clocked at faster than 11 knots at the 16 th Alcan International Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver last weekend, and the Laoyam Eagles of Pemberton Secondary School were definitely one of those teams.

The team rose to new heights this year as they paddled to win the competitive Junior ‘A’ division championship for the third year in a row. Even more impressive, however, was their silver medal in the Adult Recreational Division in which there were 144 teams entered. It should also be noted that the Eagles missed the gold by just two-tenths of a second.

The Alcan Dragon Boat Festival is Vancouver is the largest dragon boat festival in the world, according to the festival’s organizers, with 183 teams competing this year.

Although the sun played peek-a-boo for most of the weekend, the racing conditions were near perfect. The rain forecasters were calling for held off and the winds and the waters were calm for the most part.

Despite the fact that one of the Eagle’s most experienced paddlers was laid up with a fever of 102, the Eagles won their first seeding heat (there were 16 seeding heats with nine boats in each) by more than eight seconds. They event beat Team Ruckus, a university team that has been posting fast times recently, with a time of 2 minutes 4.52 seconds.

Later on that day they had a closer race in the first Junior race – the adult rec race was just for fun – against the Sun Dogs, a group of high school kids from Portland who have already qualified for the worlds. The Eagles managed to post an even faster time of 2:03.25, edging out the Sun Dogs time of 2:04.55.

The Eagles got another boost when they checked the times in the junior seeding race. The next fastest junior in the seeding racers – the Centennial Centaurs – posted a beatable time of 2:11.32.

In their second seeding race, which determined whether they would compete at the A, B, C, D, or E level, the Eagles once again beat the competition to the line, posting a time of 2:09.52. The next fastest team finished almost four seconds back. As a result, the Eagles made it into the ‘A’ category.

Back in the Junior semi-finals, the Eagles were forced to race the course twice – the first race, in which they had a huge lead, was discounted after an American boat wandered onto the course and blocked some of the other boats. Undeterred, the Eagles paddled the race again and won.

The day ended with the Eagles on top in two divisions.

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