Story ideas to keep you afloat of news from Dragon Boat BC.

March 10, 2017

Win the race to fitness with Dragon Zone Paddling Club

Competitive paddlers who join one of the Dragon Zone Paddling Club’s Team programs, enjoy a host of benefits for just $20 per padding session, including:

  • Access to the Dragon Zone boathouse on False Creek
  • Equipment rental for eight weeks
  • Coaching
  • Team t-shirt
  • Opportunity to race in Dragon Boat BC’s 500M Regatta, June 10 and 11, 2017
  • Entry in the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, June 23-25, 2017

Paddle year-round for just 68¢ per practice session 

Find out how affordable dragon boating can be with a year-round membership to Dragon Zone Paddling Club. Membership includes access to the club’s False Creek boathouse and all paddling equipment from dragon boats and paddles to personal flotation devices and bottled water.

  • Each member of a 20-person team, practicing once a week for six months, pays just $2.60 per on-the-water practice.
  • The cost per session goes down when practice sessions go up. Members of a 20-person team practicing three times a week year-round pay just 68¢ per session. Inexpensive, friendly fun!

For more information or to join the Dragon Zone Paddling Club, contact




February 28, 2017

Disappointment expressed at loss of funds intended for paddling community 

TO: Catarina Gomes
Vancouver Park Board

Dear Catarina:

We were disappointed to learn that the Vancouver Park Board plans to use remaining funds that were originally earmarked by City Council for a non-motorized boating facility in False Creek, for other “marine” purposes. These funds include a $1,000,000 donation that was donated specifically in support of a new boathouse for dragon boat and other paddlers.  It is unfortunate that when the decision by the present Mayor and Council was made to support paddlers in Vancouver, no one from the Park Board was present. If a Park Board representative had been present, you would know that the intent of that additional sentence to the motion was meant to direct staff to include paddling and rowing sport organizations in future discussions. It is unfortunate that until the funds were on the horizon, the Park Board was not interested in supporting the paddling community’s plans.

Fortunately, there were over 120 supporters present at the public hearing, all of whom put their name forward to speak in support of a permanent home for dragon boat and other flatwater racing and paddling in False Creek. These and others will be extremely disappointed to learn that present elected Park Board Commissioners have decided that they would rather use the remaining CAC funds for other non-specific uses.  Our organization does not blame the Park Board staff. Either the elected commissioners are instructing staff to proceed in this direction, or they are not giving any direction at all, and staff are forced to work in a vacuum, hoping to do the right thing.

I suspect you will be hearing a lot more from the paddling community in the near future. The paddling community is made up of many informed voters and we will be reminding them of this Park Board’s specific action in 2018.


Ann Phelps
General Manager
Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society Creekside Docks


February 17, 2017

Barrier Free Canada Cup Race to kick off 2017 festival 

Last year, the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival began with an exciting race between breast and prostate cancer survivor dragon boat teams. The Friday afternoon Breasts / Butts in a Boat Race was a great start to the 2016 festival.

CPVDBF organizers plan to host the race again this year, highlighting disabled paddlers and teams with a Barrier Free Canada Cup Race. The event is currently being considered for funding as part of the Barrier Buster Awareness Event, which recognizes accessibility infrastructure improvements, and is supported by the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Canadian federal government.

The Barrier Free Canada Cup Race will be competitive, possibly combining 200m and 500m races or one 2,000m race with the best overall time winning the Cup. This event helps raise awareness of ability and the need for removing barriers so all Canadians can participate equally.

Please email David Brun, Para Dragon Boat Paddling Programs, at with your feedback on how the races could be structured or if you would like to volunteer to help organize this fun, competitive event.

Eye of the Dragon 2000m Gold Medal IDBF World Championship Ravenna Italy 2014 IMG_0737
Eye of the Dragon team wins the Gold Medal in the 2,000m Adaptive (Para Dragon) Partially Sighted Racing Division at the 2014 IDBF Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy. Teams raced with a minimum 10 partially sighted paddlers and a maximum of 10 sighted paddlers; the steersperson and drummer are sighted. Dragon Boat BC’s David Brun is next to Parker, his guide dog.

January 16, 2017

Colour and Patterns to Mix in Iconic Poster

London artists Katie and Paul Morris were selling their colourful art screen prints, T-shirts and silk scarves on Granville Island, when Ann Phelps, general manager for the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, spotted their vibrant designs.

She quickly signed the talented artistic duo to create a new poster for the 2017 festival. “It was exciting to see existing artwork that I thought is exactly the style I want to see for the festival this year.”  She adds that the designs are as striking in black and white as they are in colour.  

While living in London, Katie and Paul focused on creating hand-screened printed textiles for fashion designers. After moving to Vancouver in 2011, the pair were inspired by the city’s blend of urban and natural beauty. At markets around Vancouver, they began selling sweatshirts and T-shirts that blend brilliant colours, bold shapes and iconic artistry influenced by their West Coast surroundings. 

“When we moved to a new place, we looked at it with fresh eyes and our prints are a translation of the patterns and colours we see around us,” Katie explains. “We aren’t too literal,” notes Paul, who laughingly adds, “I think I’m a cubist at heart.” 

For the festival poster, Paul explains, “We’ll blend popular elements of our designs with dragon boat influences and images from around the False Creek area.” The two have completed a black and white outline and Katie will begin work next on colouring the design. 

Ann is enthusiastic about the project. “I can’t wait to see their vision.” The finished poster design will be unveiled in February. 

For more on KT & Paul print studio, visit   


June 20, 2016

Local teams sweep in the medal count at Festival; Hong Kong National Team tops the sprint

They were lined up at the start line beside the best paddlers from the US and China and Vancouver dragon boat teams came out on top in most contests at this year’s Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival.

In mixed and women’s divisions the top finishers were local teams from Dragon Zone and False Creek Racing Canoe Club – though many of the races were determined by fractions of a second.

The stellar local showing is a reflection of the high level of coaching and paddling resources available to dragon boaters in the area, according to long time participants.

The Concord Pacific International Cup, a new 100 meter sprint, was won by the Hong Kong National Team.

While the racers faced stiff competition on the water, Festival organizers faced a challenge of a different kind. Though rain soaked the festival site on Saturday, the paddlers and their supporters were enthusiastic and undeterred.

This year’s festival site was twice as large as in previous years – and had much to offer visitors and paddlers.

“Overall we are pleased with this year’s event. We’re grateful to Concord Pacific who, as our new title sponsor, brought all kinds of new ideas, teams and activities,” said General Manager Ann Phelps. “Yes, we had some challenges but most people I saw were smiling.”

The Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival, now in its 28th year, is put on by the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society. The Society also runs the Dragon Zone Paddling Club – offering year-round paddling instruction, workshops, practice programs, corporate programs and opportunities for at-risk youth.


June 18, 2016

Rain, surprize wins, camaraderie and high-fives at 28th Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival

A new series was, to many, the highlight of the racing at today’s dragon boat festival.

The Concord Pacific International Cup was competitive paddling at its most intense.

Nine of the highest-ranked teams started in the 100 meter race – a course shorter than the usual dragon boat race of 500 meters.

The field was then reduced to six teams and finally four. Then a winner emerged.

Congratulations to all who took part. On the winners’ podium – two Canadian teams secured bronze and silver, while the Hong Kong National Open team won gold. Bravo!


June 17, 2016

“Water will fly from their paddles” as world’s best converge at dragon boat festival this weekend. False Creek waters will be churning during Champions Race Series

Dragon boaters from China, known for their explosive starts, will be racing down False Creek in the inaugural Concord Pacific International Cup on Saturday, June 18.

The race is a new addition to this year’s Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival and presents paddling at its most competitive.

“These guys are known for their high stroke rate,” says Race Director Greg Lamb.

“Our top teams paddle at about 75 to 80 strokes a minute. They do over 100. There will be water flying from their paddles.”

A team from Guangzhou and one from Hong Kong, invited by Concord Pacific, just arrived to paddle in the 100 meter knock-out style sprint.

Nine of the highest-ranked teams will start in the race, which is shorter than the usual dragon boat race of 500 meters. The field is then reduced to six teams and finally four. Then a winner emerges.

“The Chinese teams are superb sprinters,” says Lamb. “This will be amazing to watch.”

WHAT: Concord Pacific International Cup inaugural race

WHEN: Saturday, June 18th      12:30 – 1:30 pm

WHERE: Creekside Park and the waters of False Creek

WHO: Top local teams are joined by teams from Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Portland, Pemberton and Edmonton

ALSO: The Champions Race Series also includes races for the CIBC Breast Cancer Survivors’ Cup, the Hostelling International Under 24 College Cup and Roundhouse Radio’s Granddragons Cup. will stream races and stats throughout the festival, or it’s all being broadcast on a large screen on site.

This year’s festival, now in its 28th year, features live entertainment, a Family Fun Zone in which you can be entertained or take part, new seating in the Concord Fan Zone bleachers, a climbing wall, sponsor booths, kids’ activities and of course, world class dragon boat racing all day on the creek.



June, 2016

Change this year- Dragon Blessing Ceremony is Thursday, June 16 5pm, not Friday

Every year we invite Taoist priests to our docks to perform an ancient blessing ceremony to open our event. They  set up an altar and chant to bless the dragon boats, cleanse the course and speed the racers for the competition ahead.

The priests then lead invited dignitaries down to the docks to “dot the eyes” of the dragon heads on the boats.

It’s a lovely ceremony.

We want you to know that this year the Blessing on Thursday, June 16 – the night of our Dragon Boat Gala 2016 – rather than on the Friday, opening night.

Same time – 5 pm.

Do join us on the docks outside the Creekside Community Centre for this year’s Blessing.


June, 2016

Paddlers speak out about status of the sport. Dragon boating should be in the sports pages, some participants say

Dragon boaters on the False Creek Racing Canoe Club’s Senior C crew train four to seven days a week.

The paddlers are proud and passionate about paddling.

And they think the sport needs more respect.

FCRCC Senior C won big at the recent World Championships – so team members are taking this opportunity to renew their bid to raise the sport’s profile.

“The media treats dragon boating as a lifestyle choice rather than a sport,” said Judy Comer, long-time paddler and member of the FCRCC Senior C team Board.

“Many of us are serious athletes. We paddle and work out in the gym with a coach year round, and Canadian paddlers do extremely well on the world stage. We’d like to be considered a serious sport.”

The team has penned an open letter to local sports journalists, inviting them to take up a paddle in the coming months.

“Maybe that way they will better understand what it takes to perform well in our sport,” Comer said.

FCRCC Senior C crew was in Adelaide, Australia this spring where they won the sixty-plus age group division of the 2016 Club Crew World Championships – the top tier of dragon boat racing, defending  their 2014 title.

Also on the podium were other Canadians – paddlers from Victoria, Fort Langley and Pickering, Ontario.

Comer sees the sport a healthy choice for our aging population.

“With an aging population and the need to stay active and healthy, this sport is a great choice for anyone who can sit and hold a paddle. One of our team members is 83 and still going strong.”

Even without the help of the media, word of the team’s accomplishments is spreading. Council members will recognize the accomplishments of FCRCC Senior C crew at an upcoming Vancouver City Council meeting.


June, 2016

Survivor Showdown – contest is a time for teasing and also for reflection. “What a beautiful group of survivors”

The high-spirited barbs started even before the teams were down on the docks.

From the guys it was “those women looked scared” and the women came back with “they don’t know what paddle like a girl means yet!”

It was the final practice for Butts in a Boat – a team of men who have survived prostate cancer. The brave Butts have boldly challenged another team of cancer survivors – the women of the well-known and long-established Abreast In A Boat, who have dealt with breast cancer, to a race.

The race – dubbed the Survivor Showdown – is the opening event for this year’s Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival – starting horn this Friday at 6:30 pm.

Everyone’s having fun –the Butts get coaching and cajoling from crew captain Vince Schiralli – the only experienced paddler in the group – and at this latest practice there are blue shirts for the boys provided by sponsor the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC.

Jean Buckley is commandeering the Abreast In A Boat contingent. On the dock, a few moments before the practice, she highlights that the race is really all about leading healthy, active lives and providing support for each other.

She also pointed out that the breast cancer teams have been around for over 20 years.

“The boys are always a little behind the girls.”

The competition has also reminded some of the AIAB crew of their tentative beginnings – two decades ago.

Heather Trenholm, who has paddled with Abreast In A Boat for 19 years, was on the dock when the two groups gathered for a photo for a Vancouver Sun reporter and photographer covering the event.

For Heather it brought back memories – and also hope for the future.

“What a beautiful group of survivors! It’s hard to put into words what I experienced tonight,” she said.  “These men are putting themselves out there just like we all did in our novice years. Some were a bit more tentative than others, but they were all smiling, happy cancer survivors getting back into living life to the fullest.

“I am so proud of Abreast In A Boat for embracing the men and I hope we stay connected with them for many years. Our race together on June 17th will be just the start of an awesome adventure for men worldwide to be encouraged to pick up a paddle, put on that PFD, step into a dragon boat for the first time and let it all unfold just like we all did. Well done AIAB – paddles up.”



June, 2016

Buck a sign-up! Milton K Wong Legacy Project is grateful recipient of Roundhouse Radio fund raising program

The Milton K Wong Legacy Project Junior Paddler Program has been chosen as Roundhouse Radio’s Charity of the Month for June.

Every sign-up on the site means Roundhouse Radio will donate a dollar to the program, which provides on-water activities for local, at-risk youth.

We are honoured!

What is the junior paddler program? The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society believes that all children and youth should be given the opportunity to experience the positive benefits of sport, and that no one should be left out.

Finding very few programs for youth in our community, the Society developed a number of initiatives for children and youth focused on the inclusive sport of dragon boat paddling.

For example, each year over 2,000 kids participate in “One Time”, low or no cost dragon boating and kayaking programs.

Through funds raised for the program we provide lunch and two-hour paddling sessions for kids from inner city schools and the opportunity for high school students to join our low or no cost multi-session paddling programs.

In addition, money raised from our donors provides reduced registration to almost 1,000 youth on Junior Teams for the Dragon Zone Junior Regatta, the Spring Sprint Regatta and the 500m Regatta every year.

More than 900 young people can, thanks to this program, participate for free on Junior teams in the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival.

Why not sign up for free now?!


June, 2016

Organizers hopeful but unsure about race course for festival weekend; boats might remain on the course

Race officials and festival organizers remain optimistic that all races at next weekend’s Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival will run as scheduled.

Recent publicity about disruptions caused by boats anchored on or traveling through the race course have highlighted the organizers’ requests that moored boots move aside during races.

“Most boat owners are kind and co-operative,” says Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society General Manager Ann Phelps. “This year in particular though, we’ve had a few who won’t work with us creating problems and delays during qualifying races.”

As many as 10 boats have been moored on the race course just before events this year. Race organizers try to alert boat owners to coming events through phones calls, signs on the water and notes taped to the boats’ hulls.

The Society has started a petition requesting that the area be designated as a Marine Park, so no boats would be moored in this part of False Creek.

“The area is much busier than in other years,” says Phelps. “The possibility that boats will still be in the course on race weekend puts us in a precarious position. We have a race every eight minutes so any delay is disruptive.

“We encourage everyone to sign our petition and talk to their local and federal representatives about creating a Marine Park.”



June, 2016

Boat blocks the course; urging officials to make False Creek a Marine Park would avoid these conflicts

Last minute preparations are underway for this weekend’s regatta. We have come up against a boat owner whose sailboat is on the course who says he may not be moving it in time. We are working to resolve this.

It’s frustrating for all of us – organizers, paddlers and probably boat-owners – to have these conflicts.

We are urging everyone who uses False Creek for recreation to drop an email to their MP and to Mayor and Council – the two levels of government that oversee False Creek – requesting this area be converted to a Marine Park. That way no boats would be moored here.

Let’s keep the creek safe!


June, 2016

Schools rely on private funders; Dragon Boat Gala 2016 provides direct benefit to local students

Private donations and not school districts are now funding many core programs in Vancouver’s school system, especially the poorer schools,  a Globe & Mail story recently revealed.

“Large-scale donations from corporations, foundations and alumni are big contributors in underprivileged areas,” says the story.

The Dragon Boat Legacy Gala on June 16 is offering help exactly where it is needed, says Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society Chair Peter Wong.

“This news story is a reminder of why we raise funds at the Legacy Gala each year,” says Wong. “A large portion of the fundraiser ticket goes towards helping students experience padding for first time. The event is about providing an opportunity these students might not otherwise get.”

Proceeds from the annual gala support the Milton K. Wong Legacy Fund which provides on-water activities for local, at-risk youth.

The fund’s namesake, and one of the founders of the Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, Milton K. Wong, believed all young people should have the chance to learn about sport and teamwork and have fun.

“Everyone who buys a ticket is helping Milton’s dream,” says Peter Wong. “We know we are making a difference and bettering our community.”

Tickets for the event on Thursday, June 16 are $125 and available by emailing


May, 2016

Boats anchored in the creek compound woes of wet racers on Saturday; seeking vessel owners

Paddlers in the annual False Creek Racing Canoe Club’s Women’s Regatta on May 28th faced not only whipping wind, driving rain and low temperatures but errant boats anchored in the creek.

“I suggested that next year’s event should be an obstacle course around all the boats,” said paddler Heather Trenholm. “One of the teams had tried for weeks to contact the owners without success.”

Paddlers in the 500 meter regatta were forced to navigate around the boats, in particular a large barge-like vessel on the race course, then search for the finish line.

Vessels moored at the head of False Creek have long been a challenge for the society that puts on the festival, runs the Dragonzone Paddling Club and provides courses, rentals and programs for youth on False Creek. Paddlers come from all over North America to paddle in Vancouver, contributing significantly to Vancouver’s economy.

Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society General Manager Ann Phelps has been dealing with this issue for years.

“We understand that the waters of False Creek are under the jurisdiction of the federal government who leaves it to the City of Vancouver to enforce,” she said.

“The creek is difficult to police. Instead of pointing fingers we’d love to find the owners of these boats and ask them to move aside for our race days. If anyone knows these vessel owners please help us make this connection.”


Through Facebook we were able to find the owner of the Cape Pine, which had been in the race course. The owner has kindly agreed to move the vessel. Thanks to all who helped with this detective work!



May, 2016

New team of cancer survivors shows ‘enthusiasm and attentiveness’; pride may need to be abandoned as stiff competition looms

Hesitation mixed with heartiness as a group of brand new paddlers stepped gingerly into dragon boats on a recent Friday evening.

The novice paddlers were members of Butts in a Boat, a team of prostate cancer survivors determined to learn the sport and take on veteran paddlers from the breast cancer survivor team Abreast in a Boat.

The coming race—dubbed the Survivor Showdown—is Friday, June 17, at the opening of the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival. And the men, whose team is sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC, are geared up to get fit and have fun in the process.

Crew Captain Vince Schiralli, is bullish about their prospects.

Vince, himself a prostate cancer patient and a long-time paddler with the notorious seniors team the Grandragons, said he was pleased with the enthusiasm at the team’s first practice.

“The guys were attentive and enthusiastic to learn about safety and terminology, and then get on the water,” he said. “I was impressed with their level of fitness and how fast they learned the basics.”

Butts learning the terminology. Anna Taylor-Wilson photo

The idea of a prostate cancer survivor team challenging the women survivors came from another survivor and team member Richard Wassersug. He was on the dock and happy to watch things take shape at the recent practice.

Wassersug, a research scientist at UBC, sees great value in the exercise component of dragonboating as he is familiar with the side effects of the drugs used to treat the disease.

“The most common drugs used to treat prostate cancer have many side effects, for which the best way to counter them is with exercise,” he said as he got into the boat. “There’s a medical need for it. So it’s great to see this all happening.”

On the water in practice number 1. Anna Taylor-Wilson photo

Along with the exercise and the camaraderie, the Butts also hope their race will raise awareness of the disease being the number one cancer for men and they have set up a fund raising page.

Meantime, the Butts are throwing their pride and caution to the wind and getting out on the water.

Next practices are at 6 pm May 27, June 3 and June 10 at the Dragon Zone docks near the Creekside Community Centre. The race is June 17th.

They’d love a cheering section!




May 2016

They Believe! Fort Langley women join Canadian take-over on podium in Australia

Team Titanium from the Fort Langley Canoe Club has returned from competing in Australia with a new appreciation for all we have here in BC.

The senior C women’s team recently came home with silver and bronze medals spilling out of their bags after competing in the World Club Crew Championship down under.

According to team captain Maureen Spencer, the trip opened their eyes.

“The venue in Adelaide was wonderful – everything was very upbeat,” she says. “It made us realize what a great venue we have here on False Creek as well.  We especially like having all the age groups competing here.”

Canadian paddlers had a great showing in Adelaide. The gold was taken by a Pickering, Ontario team and the bronze by Victoria’s Gorging Dragons along with Titanium’s silver – so the three teams broke into a lusty O Canada on the podium.

Titanium came together in 2012 when a group of local women over 60 decided to form a dragon boat team. Their aim is to pursue good health and a full life through dragon boat racing – and inspire other seniors to do the same. Their theme word has always been believe.

“Lots of credit for our success goes to our coach Ben Lee,” says Maureen.

Watch for Team Titanium in the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival – become a believer!


© 2018 Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society