Having fun at the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival doesn’t depend on crossing the finish line first, or at all. Just ask Allan Hubley.
The Ottawa councillor representing Kanata South said he greatly enjoyed the weekend and the racing even if his boat didn’t succeed by a traditional measure, like winning.
“We got disqualified in our first one and we nearly drowned in our second one,” he said, explaining that there was a problem with the way the boat was removed from its moorings, causing it to take on water very quickly.
“Half the boat was paddling and half the boat was bailing,” he said.
Hubley is the honorary chairman of the Ottawa Dragon Boat Foundation, which has raised $350,000 so far this year and hopes to get to $500,000 by the end of 2012.
The annual festival at Mooney’s Bay is the largest of its kind in North America.
About 70,0000 people gathered this year to watch 22-person teams compete for glory in 44-foot boats adorned with fearsome dragon’s heads and tails.
More than 400 volunteers work at the non-profit festival, which raises money for local charities. This year’s charities are: the Youth Services Bureau; ArtsSmarts; the Bruyère Foundation; the CHEO Foundation; Debra Dynes Family House; the Ottawa Humane Society and the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research.
More than 5,000 paddlers across 200 teams took part in this year’s festivities. The races are broken down into 15 categories.
Hubley said the weekend was a great success, with weather that was just about perfect. He said the music and the food and all the activities produced great fun at the beach. And through the money raised, much good will come.
“You’re helping an awful lot of people in the city through those charities.”