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Dragon Boat festival adds locals challenge

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The first annual Whistler Dragon Boat Festival is issuing a challenge to the Whistler community to pick up paddles and get a team together.

The community challenge is for novice paddlers, with no experience needed — if you can put together a team of 20 paddlers, you’re in. Water’s Edge, which is hosting the event, will supply each team with a drummer and someone to steer, and a short lesson on dragon boating.

Water’s Edge is also pairing up single paddlers with teams that have less than 20 paddlers. The cost to race in the challenge is $20 per person, which includes all the gear, entry to the beer tent, a lesson, and a few chances to race other Whistler teams.

Organizers are encouraging businesses to challenge other businesses, families, groups of friends, clubs and others to sign up for what they plan to make an annual event.

You can register as a team or individually at www.whistlerdragonboat.com.

The festival takes place June 28-29, and organizers are expecting roughly 30 teams to take part. The goal is to increase participation to 80 teams in the next few years, leading up to hosting the Canadian Dragon Boat Championships in summer of 2011.

The festival will be based out of Rainbow Park. The short distance sprints, like the 200 metre races, will follow a straight course, while the 500 metre and 1,000 events will be out and back races.

The Whistler event also takes place one week after the annual Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, which attracts teams from across the Pacific Northwest. The goal is to get teams to participate in both events and give teams a reason to travel from around North America and the world to race in B.C.

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