Tacoma dragon boat team returns to Montana festival

Staff reportAugust 25, 2013 

The Tacoma Dragon Boat team will return to Montana Dragon Boat Festival on Flathead Lake early next month, after assisting with last year’s inaugural event.

The 2013 Montana Dragon Boat Festival will be held Sept. 7-8, and has attracted 95 teams from across the country and Canada.

“There is always at least one race that requires some long-distance travel,” Michael Gehrke, Tacoma Dragon Boat Association’s race team coordinator, said in a news release. “The vote for this season was an enthusiastic ‘Let’s go to Montana.’”

At the 2012 festival, members of the Tacoma club helped train new dragon boat paddlers and supplied several dragon boats for the race, as it will again this year.

“The Tacoma Dragon Boat Association’s support has helped us introduce dragon boat racing to Montana and grow our festival into one of our state’s premiere events,” Rob Brisendine, Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau group sales manager and festival organizer, said in the release.

The Tacoma association, created in 2000, has helped promote the sport in the Northwest. Club members have trained paddlers to compete at the local, regional, national and international levels, assisted in the creation of five dragon boat clubs and two dragon boat festivals, and sent two crews to the World Cup Crew Championships in Toronto.

In addition to the Tacoma and Montana-based teams, teams from Nevada, California, Minnesota, Oregon and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia will participate this year. Each team, consisting of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersman, will race on Flathead Lake in Hong Kong-style, 46-foot dragon boats that are distinguished by a dragonhead at the bow and a dragon tail at the stern, according to the news release.

Races run from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. each day. Admission is free, and food and beverage vendors will be on site. Learn more about the event at montanadragonboat.com.

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