A group of 13 students from Joseph Charter School used their physical education class time on May 11 to try out dragon boats.
After being introduced to “Wally” the big Kaohsiung-style dragon boat that will go to the Portland races June 9-11, the students and instructor Toby Koehn met at the foot of Wallowa Lake hoping to take one of the club’s sleek Hong Kong style race boats out for a practice run. Unfortunately high winds prevented the trip, so the group learned the basic calls and technique from local dragons while on dry land.
“These guys learn fast,” said race organizer Michael Lockhart. “We hope to see them and other youth members from across the county out on the lake. We really want to field a youth team.”
To help youth become involved, Lockhart will arrange “work it off” opportunities for them to pay youth dues of $75.
Adult membership dues are $100 for the season.
Anyone interested in trying out dragon boats is welcome to meet with the team at practices. Individuals must be 14 or older. “Dragons in the Wallowas” competitive race team includes well-conditioned individuals older than 70 years. The team now has four Hong Kong race boats in addition to “Wally” and paddlers can be divided into race and recreation teams as more members join. All boaters must sign a waiver.
Practices are Tuesday and Thursday at 6:15 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. Paddles and life vests will be provided for anyone interested in trying out.
Although some team members started early, the regular practice season for dragon boats began May 13.
A traditional Awakening Ceremony for “Wally” will be held in Joseph between the Outlaw Restaurant and Embers Brew Pub 6 p.m. May 19.
“Wally” will be launched on the lake 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20. Members of Dragons in the Wallowas race team that intend to compete in the Portland Dragon Boat Races held in conjunction with the Rose Festival in June will use “Wally” until that race has been completed.
After that, practices will be held in the sleeker Hong Kong style boats in preparation for Wallowa County’s “Seventh Wonder Cup” on Wallowa Lake the last weekend of August.
To join the club call 503-781-4321 or visit DragonsintheWallowas.com