The annual WetDashe Race, shown here from 2019, is taking a virtual approach this year. (Black Press Media file photo)

The annual WetDashe Race, shown here from 2019, is taking a virtual approach this year. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria’s WetDashe paddling race makes a virtual splash this year

Annual outrigger race draws international attention

Organizers of the WetDashe outrigger canoe race have found an innovative way to keep this year’s event afloat, despite the murky waters caused by COVID-19.

“We found a safe way to hold a fun annual fundraiser for men’s health in the middle of a pandemic,” race director Erik Ages said in a media release. “How? We made everyone their own race official. WetDashe 2020 contestants run their own races within their own ‘bubbles’ and in their own regions.”

The interest in participating has surprised organizers so far, with athletes from around the world and teams of all ages and abilities registering, noted Ages, who is also general manager of the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club. (FGPC)

Many paddling crews around the world are currently training in cohort crews, with small groups of athletes working in small pods to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, he said. Registrants for this year’s event so far include athletes from across B.C., Alberta, Ontario, California and Australia.

“FGPC’s Victoria coaches, staff, facility and docks have anticipated the health concerns of our members and athletes,” Ages noted. “Their health priorities are the same as other athletes around the world. They want to maintain their health and fitness while minimizing risk and respecting the health professionals and essential workers in their communities.”

Racers will select a three-kilometre out and back loop on a waterway of their choice and run that course four times or more during the month of November. Race officials then take an average of the four fastest times to determine the winners.

The competition is open to solo outrigger canoeists, six-person outrigger canoes and V12 crews, which consist of two six-person outrigger canoes lashed together with spars.

There’s also an incentive where competitors can shave one second off of their time for every $10 raised for the BC Cancer Foundation’s WetDashe Men’s Health campaign. Proceeds will support an innovative prostate cancer diagnostic tool under development at the agency.

“Based on registration to date, we know that WetDashe race shirts will be worn by participants of this unique event around the world,” Ages said. “We expect the 2020 WetDashe shirt to become a collector’s item.”

Register at fgpaddle.com.

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