A Message from Past President – Gord Henderson

The birth of a dragon boat society in Blind Bay

In 2011, the closest accessible place to dragon boat was Salmon Arm. At the conclusion of the 2011 paddling season, a small group of paddlers from the Blind Bay, Sorrento and North Shore communities, banded together to talk about forming a paddling society in the Blind Bay area. Travelling into Salmon Arm several times a week for practice had proven to be both time consuming and costly, and for some people this obstacle was large enough to prevent them from taking part in the sport.

Gord HendersonThere was confidence that there would be enough interest to form an autonomous society serving Blind Bay and the surrounding area. The GT Dragon Boat Society was off and running.

The first priority was to purchase a boat. Colby and Annette Woodhead, owner’s of Blind Bay Village Grocer, were approached for some kind of sponsorship. In a very community-minded gesture, they offered to put up the capital cost for the purchase of a used dragon boat. We were halfway there. The second priority, the other half, where does one put a 46 foot boat? Sunset Cove Marina and Grill came to the rescue, offering a spot to moor the boat in exchange for advertising at our festival appearances and also on our uniforms. Rossworn-Henderson Chartered Accountants and Shuswap Lake Estates continue to provide an annual financial donation in support of this very worthwhile health and fitness activity. Over the years additional sponsors have come on board. To see our current sponsors, view the sponsors page.

The first year over 100 paddlers registered to experience the sport of dragon boating, many having never had the opportunity to try before. Following the introductory lessons, 80 paddlers continued through the season. Each year, some people move on to try other ventures, and each year new faces show up to try dragon boating. The society membership has remained relatively constant for each of the three years of our existence.

The first question many prospective paddlers ask is, “GT Dragon Boat Society.” “What does the GT stand for ?” To name the society after one of the surrounding areas would appear biased, and because paddlers from all over were encouraged to join, the name chosen could not be biased toward one community. GT is synonymous with High Performance, dragon boating is racing, so the name fits our goal, to be competitive. We also like to say that GT stands for Great Times, because the fitness and health benefits, coupled with the social interactions, enhance the quality of life for those taking part.

If you are looking for fun, laughter, an opportunity to meet some great people, and a fabulous physical workout, try us out.

Gord