THE CALL OF THE DRAGON Édouard Dufour, CFB Valcartier
The thick layer of ice covering Lac Beauport had just barely melted. The sun was streaming through the canopy of large pines and deciduous trees, which are abundant in the area. A strong wind blew down from Mont Tourbillon and Mont Saint-Castin filling our lungs. This was my first time out on the water and I had chosen to wear a paradoxical combination of a warm hoodie and a bathing suit. Our dragon boat sat obediently waiting for us on the shores of the Entourage Hotel’s beach. I felt as though the beast was scrutinizing us with an enigmatic smile, baring a mouth full of teeth, and its bulging, disproportionate eyes. Our group’s restlessness was palpable. Just like nature after a long winter, we could not wait to spring to life. Our coach Bertrand, a strapping six-foot-tall man, quickly rounded us up on the dock. Our crew was a mishmash of women, men, the young, the not so young, fitness enthusiasts and armchair athletes. But we all had one thing in common: a paddle in our hands. Sitting two abreast in the boat, we waited for the departure signal. As our paddles touched down in unison, we propelled the boat forward from a standing start to gain speed. Like in a waking dream, the landscape began to unfold around us. The placid surface of the lake was now glittering with the last rays of the setting sun. Aside from the sound of our laboured breathing, silence reigned around us.
The landscape was striking. Practically plunged into darkness, we appeared to be navigating by the stars, letting a supernatural force guide us. Our steer person commanded that we pick up speed. Despite the fatigue in our arms and shoulders, we increased our rhythm and the boat accelerated. In this highly charged atmosphere, one thing was clear: give it all you have and enjoy the moment to the fullest. After this first practice session, we wanted to see how we would fare against other teams. Our team participated in several competitions throughout the summer. Each race was unique. From the start, boats were neck and neck, engaged in a heated battle where the mental strength and determination of some would confidently conquer that of others. During these few seconds of extreme effort, all that could be heard was the cries of the paddlers and the crowd, the beating of the war drums and the commands shouted by the steer people. In that moment, all our worries and responsibilities evaporated, and we became a single entity amid this perfect chaos. Beyond the competitions, there are moments spent with exceptional people that I will always remember. Eating a delicious burger with my brother Charles and Camille after a long day of competition is a memory I will cherish forever. If you would like to start a Dragon Boat Club or join a local team, contact your local PSP recreation department to learn how. CAFconnection.ca
June is Recreation month! PLAY, YOUR WAY! MAKING HEALTHY, ACTIVE, BETTER LIVING FUN AND EASY! PSP makes playing your way, easy and accessibl...