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Pemberton dragon boaters heading overseas

Laoyam Eagles set to compete at Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival



The Laoyam Eagles are getting set to fly to Hong Kong.

The team will compete at the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Festival later this month as a big-time learning experience.

Team member Isaac Tetreault, 16, said some paddlers had considered going earlier, but decided to push it to this year.

Last year, the club had received a sponsorship offer to attend the event, but decided against attending because of a conflict with the high school's prom. Though the sponsor didn't remain, the desire to cross the pond and compete did, and the Pemberton paddlers decided to buckle down and make sure they got there in the end.

"That was when we got the idea of Hong Kong in our heads, and we just decided to sponsor ourselves," he said. "It's just going to be really exciting. It'll be like going to Canada to play hockey. It's their thing over there. I don't have any expectations for coming in the races because I just don't know what their teams are going to be like."

Though all the Eagles are high-school-aged, they'll be up against adults because of a low number of same-aged competition.

"We have no expectations of how we're going to do. It'll just be a different experience," said Tetreault.

Fellow team member Ruby Trand, 15, sees the chance to go as an opportunity to learn more about the sport.

"It's a lot for fun. We want to see how they paddle and learn from them," she said.

With paddling being almost a rite of passage in Pemberton, both started in the water as elementary students and opted to continue on.

"It's a big deal in Pemberton. Lots of kids do it and I thought I'd try it out and I ended up really liking it," Trand said. "It's really fun and really competitive, which I like."

A four-year veteran himself, Tetreault acknowledged that there are different levels of experience, but added all members are committed to work hard to make the team prosper.

"We're pretty even with our technique and the way we paddle," he said.

Trand, who noted the team excels in longer distance events and, due to One Mile Lake's dimensions, races with corners, said it'll be exciting to see how the team does. She's also looking forward to seeing a new part of the planet.

"I'm really excited because I've never been anywhere in Asia," she said. "I thought that it would be really cool to race around the world."


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