Periodic sprinklings of rain followed by sunshine, a bit of confusion (Which race am I in? Which lane?), kayaks and canoes for two paddlers, kayaks for four being placed in the water from different directions and different clubs crowded into one small beach area - all made for a perfect paddling regatta.
It was the first regatta for the Fort Langley Canoe Club Junior Sprint team. Four young men and four young women competing for the first time at Whonnick Lake at the Pacific Cup. Led by Grant Rawstron and Ben Muench, these eager young paddlers made huge strides in a few short weeks before their first regatta. Time was spent at each practice in canoes and kayaks, and in a raucous time jumping off the dock!
Each paddler competed in eight kayak and two canoes races over the course of two days in both individual and team boats. Jacob Fletcher, 11, one of the youngest paddlers, insisted on coming to the regatta even though he was fighting a stomach flu. Elissa Elmadani, also 11, left with six ribbons, paddling a total of five thousand metres in two days.
After a three-year hiatus from a Nova Scotia paddling club, Justin Elmadani paddled 12 races, covering 5500 metres in combined races, and rediscovered his muscle memory. Natasha Spring only joined a couple of weeks before the regatta and did extremely well. Ryan Hayes was the go-to paddler, jumping without complaining in every boat that needed extra muscle, including different age groups. Alicia Shields' contributions included team spirit and she even stayed and cheered the boys on. Dylan Sapinski, also suffering from a bad cold, did a great job, competing in eight races over the two days, including a large war canoe. Kirsten Cheung ended her successful regatta by teaching her new paddling skills to the next generation, Sally Sapinski, nine. Meghan Cheung was so in demand at this regatta that the moment she stepped out of the car, her skills were needed in a four-person kayak.
The team was inspired by this event and had so much fun as a group that they decided to continue their training throughout October.
It truly is a great sport, in a beautiful setting with lots of energy and excitement on this team. For more information about the Fort Langley Sprint programs or camps for next year, contact Marlene Hoyt at 604-888-1986.