VI Paddling

VI Paddling’s Gorging Dragons Senior crews at the Club Crew World Championships in Szeged Hungary

VI Paddling (VIP) Society’s high-performance dragon boat racing team, the Gorging Dragons, medalled in nine of their 12 events at the 2018 Club Crew World Championship (CCWC) in Szeged, Hungary this week. This CCWC, held July 16–22, hosted over 140 crews (6000+ participants) from over 30 nations.

The prestigious Olympic Centre of Szeged hosted the 200 and 500-metre events on a 40-hectare racing site. The 2000-metre event—staggered starts with multiple teams and thrilling buoy turns every 500-metres—was raced on the fast-flowing Tisza River in the centre of Szeged in the final days of the competition.

The Vancouver Island-based Gorging Dragons, led by VI Paddling Head Coach Tom Arnold, qualified at the Canadian National Dragon Boat Championships last year to enter four crews in standard (20-paddler) dragon boats—Senior B (age 50+) Women, Senior C (age 60+) Women, Senior C Open (age 60+, Men/Women) and Senior C Mixed (age 60+, 10 Men + 10 Women)—in the CCWC. There was a strong field of international competitors against whom the Gorging Dragons won medals in multiple distances.

VI Paddling’s Gorging Dragons Senior C Women’s team after winning the Bronze medal in the 200m race

Medals won by the VIP Gorging Dragons at the 2018 CCWC by competition class:

Senior B Women
•     Gold – 500 metre
•     Bronze – 200 metre
•     Bronze – 2000 metre

Senior C Women
•     Silver – 500 metre
•     Bronze – 200 metre

Senior C Mixed
•      Silver – 2000 metre
•      Bronze – 500 metre

Senior C Open
•     Bronze – 500 metre
•     Bronze – 2000 metre

“What’s so impressive about this result is the people behind it,” Arnold said. “They are parents and grandparents who discovered an activity that they loved, worked hard to get better, and have become world-class athletes in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. They inspire me every day, and remind me that almost anything is possible through hard work…at any age!”

The Gorging Dragons team train year-round at their Victoria and Comox bases. They hail from across the Island with several from the BC Gulf Islands and the mainland.

PADDLESTROKES: VI Paddling’s Head Coach Tom Arnold was appointed in April this year as Team Canada Program Director for the Senior B National dragon boat team, marking the first time that an island coach has been given such a position.

A decorated paddler himself, Arnold is looking to continue Canada’s strong showing on the world stage, and centralize the Senior B program here on the island, bringing some of the best paddlers from across the country to Victoria.