All weekend, outrigger canoes raced back and forth across the Gorge Waterway for the Fairway Gorge Paddle Club’s (FGPC) annual WetDashe event in support of men’s health initiatives.
Many racers wore mustaches – fake or real – to pay tribute to Movember, a global moustache-growing initiative raising money and awareness to tackle mental health, suicide prevention and prostate and testicular cancer.
FGPC General Manager Erik Ages, who paddled with one of the teams who completed the 34-kilometre race, said the teams were enthusiastic about raising money for men’s health.
“The figures aren’t in yet, but it looks like we’ve raised a couple thousand dollars for men’s health, which is awesome considering tickets and participation were in low denominations,” Ages said.
He said the rainy and windy weather hardly slowed the teams down at all. “I think everyone had an awesome time despite the fact it was pouring rain today, and then very high winds this afternoon. From a technical perspective in our sport, it was very technical this afternoon.”
Ages said only one team had issues – a Vancouver canoe capsized and then self-rescued to continue the race on Saturday. He said they didn’t need the safety boats on the water during that or any other incidents.
Ages said this is the first year the event has taken place in the two-day format. In previous years the event has sold out, and the FGPC has had to turn people away.
“I was really happy with the uptake from that, there were teams from across B.C. that came to participate in 12 km, 24 km and 38 km loops. No one took us up on the 96 km race,” Ages said.
There were eight winners of draws over the weekend, four Saturday and four Sunday. Winners took home paddles, personal flotation devices, marine safety kits and more.
Ages called it a privilege to be able to practice water sports year-round on the West Coast, which is unheard of in most places in Canada. He said it’s a real tribute to West Coast culture that paddlers push on even when the weather turns.
“People on the West Coast often grumble about the weather, and the most extraordinary thing about [outrigger] is that most people in Canada cannot train or paddle on the water for months and months in winter. We in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island get to have fun on the water, like we did today, all year round.”