Oak Harbor Dragon boat team wins third in Olympia festival

Team Tsunami, nearest dock, finishes third during the St. Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival this past Sunday in Olympia. - Contributed photo
Team Tsunami, nearest dock, finishes third during the St. Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival this past Sunday in Olympia.
— image credit: Contributed photo

You might say Team Tsunami was a little late to the dragon-boat party.

Dragon boat racing began in China 2,000 years ago, while the local crew made its debut in competitive racing Saturday, April 26, by placing third out of 12 teams at the ninth annual St. Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival in Olympia.

Actually, the North Puget Sound Dragon Boat Club, which includes members from Oak Harbor, Anacortes, La Conner, Greenbank and Coupeville, has been in existence for “seven or eight years,” according to spokeswoman Catie Harrison.

In November of 2013, the club split into two boats, one competitive and one recreational. Sunday’s race was the first for the competitive team.

As a recreational team in the past, the local team took part in several competitions with little success, Harrison said.

The St. Martin’s race featured 42 boats, 12 in Oak Harbor’s intermediate division. By dragon boat racing standards, that was a small turnout.

The Alcan in Vancouver, B.C., for example, attracts more than 100 boats, Harrison said. The sport is popular in Canada and other parts of the world.

Team Tsunami is coached by Jason and Drea Park and is based out of the Oak Harbor Marina. The team practices several times a week, including workouts at John Vanderzicht Pool during the winter months.

Each boat has 16 to 20 rowers along with a caller in the front and a tiller/steersperson.

Most races are 500 meters; however, at St. Martin’s all were sprints, or 250 meters.

Team Tsunami qualified for the finals at St. Martin’s by recording the best second-place time in the semifinal heats. In the finals, it placed third, only .02 seconds out of second place.

“This was the highest ever finish for the local dragon boat club in the competitive division races,” Harrison said.

NPS Dragon Boat Team Tsunami is set to race in Kent and Seattle later this summer.

Harrison said the club is “actively recruiting paddlers of all skill and fitness levels.”

“If you enjoy being out on the water, looking for a fun way to stay active, a new cross-training regime or love to compete, come check us out,” Harrison said.

For information, visit or the club’s website at www.


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