In the winter of 2001, a small group gathered at Younie’s restaurant in Chilliwack to talk about forming a dragon boat team. Inspired by Lisa Moran and Cheryl McKenna, who were already familiar with the sport, this small group went on to form the nucleus of the first Fraser Valley dragon boat team. New recruits were told that it was only a “two minute race”.
Lacking boats and paddles, the group practiced in the local United Church hall. Brooms and chairs substituted for paddles and boats. When the paddling season got under way in June, the Water Warriors entered the Alcan regatta in Vancouver, the first for the team. The thrill of the race was enough for everyone, and all but three team members left the event without realizing that they had actually won bronze in their division’s final. This was the beginning of the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat club.
By the end of the first year the core group was hooked. A recruitment meeting in February 2002 drew a large crowd and four more teams were formed. The Dragonfliers, Spirit Abreast, Trojan Warriors and Jolly Miller Strokers joined the Water Warriors for the 2002 season.
A dragon boat was rented and brought to Harrison Lake where Jim Killer of Killer’s Cove Marina offered dock space and a small floating club house. A registered society was formed and, in the following year, two boats were purchased. The local Chilliwack Lions Club donated $3,000 to purchase club life jackets and paddles for one boat while club member Manfred Preuss developed an adopt-a-paddle campaign where local businesses could help with the purchase of additional paddles.
The two boats gave the club the flexibility that was needed to expand and accommodate the practice schedules for the teams.
From those initial years, teams have come and gone. By 2008, there were four teams associated with the now officially named Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club. The Thunder Strokers, one of the founding teams, The Pirates, Crusaders and Mavericks formed the 2008 version of the club. 2009 saw the formation of the Club's first junior team - the Draconas. Kids from Hope, Agassiz and Rosedale/Chilliwack area came together to have fun and learn about Dragon Boating. They raced in three events showing very good results
In 2005, the club introduced a new race format, the community challenge. Fraser Valley companies were invited to form teams and, with four practices under their paddles, compete with the other company teams. The event proved to be highly successful, as a fundraiser for the club, and as way for recruiting new paddlers.
The club began organizing an annual regatta in 2004. For the first couple of years club members volunteered to put together the event. Who cannot forget 2007 when a steady cold rain resulted in a very long day for the volunteers and a few unhappy racers? By 2008 members agreed that help was needed and a partnership between the club and Water’s Edge was developed. This partnership successfully ran the event until 2011.