The Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup took place earlier this month, but there’s renewed buzz about it again this week. A drone video of the event was released a few days ago and beautifully showcases the annual paddle competition in the harbor. Click below to watch the amazing footage taken by Seattle Drones.
And what better opportunity to point out that the Northwest Maritime Academy & Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard’s dragon boat team took first place in this year’s Paddlers Cup event. The April 2-3 Paddlers Cup, sponsored by the Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Race Team, culminated in dragon boat races on the final day of competition.
Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard Sponsors Winning Dragon Boat Team
“Our team won the dragon boat race,” Northwest Maritime Academy and Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard’s Ron Roark announced proudly at the Monday morning meeting the day after the races. The Academy Managing Director and marina owner and general manager sponsored a 20-person team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade to compete in the dragon boat races.
A relationship between Roark, an Air Force veteran, and the 201st EMIB was deepened at Right Arm Night held at The Club @ the Boatyard in February. The event was sponsored by the Captain Meriwether Lewis-Gig Harbor Subchapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). AUSA is an educational organization that supports the U.S. Army and the men and women who serve. The evening at The Club was about building relationships between military members and the community.
Roark spoke to the gathering at Right Arm Night and encouraged community support of military members returning from duty. Sponsoring a dragon boat team was just one way to do that. The JBLM team won the semi final and the final of the 200-meter race held inside the harbor. Their winning time of 1:22.18 beat the Gig Harbor Rotary Club’s second place time of 1:26.86.
Marina Breathes Fire into Idea of Dragon Boat Races at Paddlers Cup
In just two years, the exotic 20-person boats, complete with dragon’s head, drummer and steering oarsman, have become a fixture of the annual Paddlers Cup. The dragon boat races, added to the Paddlers Cup just last year, are open to corporations, public service groups and clubs sponsored by small businesses and high schools. Last year Tacoma Dragon Boats brought a couple of the long, narrow boats over for exhibition races during the Paddlers Cup. A couple of local community members found themselves in a winning boat and were immediately hooked on this exciting team-building experience. Gig Harbor Mayor Jill Guernsey and resident Sharon Shaffer knew then that the Maritime City just had to have its own dragon boat.
Roark at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard agreed and fire was breathed into the idea. He purchased an authentic dragon boat — complete with ornate dragon’s head and the all-important drum that provides the “pulse” keeping paddlers in rhythm. Now the Northwest Maritime Academy at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard owns the boat. It is used by the Gig Harbor Dragon Boat Team and is available to other groups interested in this team-building activity. Participants of any fitness level can quickly learn and develop a passion for this sport, say those who have tried it.
And now there’s a crew at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that has caught the passion. They will be the dragon boat team to beat at next year’s Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup.