Sports

Canoers get ready to do the Dash

A six-person canoe team shows mixed emotions after finishing a previous Dyes Inlet Dash race. Of the crew, five people consist of the team with the sixth person, the steersman, provided by the canoe club Below, spectators gather at Silverdale Waterfront Park to watch the canoe competition, in its third year of the past four at Whaling Days. - Photo by Jesse Beals
A six-person canoe team shows mixed emotions after finishing a previous Dyes Inlet Dash race. Of the crew, five people consist of the team with the sixth person, the steersman, provided by the canoe club Below, spectators gather at Silverdale Waterfront Park to watch the canoe competition, in its third year of the past four at Whaling Days.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

After a Whaling Days with calm waters, Patrick Rammel is ready to send ripples rolling from his canoe again.

Last year, no canoes raced across Dyes Inlet in celebration of Whaling Days.

“We didn’t get the sponsorship we needed,” Rammel, president of the Hui Heihei Wa’a outrigger canoe club in Silverdale, said. “We had to cancel it relatively late in the game.”

But this year, multiple sponsors have stepped up, although some from within the club, to insure that the Dyes Inlet Dash will once again take place on Silverdale’s waterfront. Rammel added the club is looking for sponsors for next year as well.

In its third year overall, Rammel said he’s excited to get back out and race, remembering the dash from two years ago.

“It was very good,” Rammel said. “It was very well received by the community. Everybody had a lot of fun.”

The race, which takes place on Saturday, July 30, will pit teams of six against one another in a sprint across the waters.

“We had about 30 teams two years ago,” Rammel said. “That made for a nice whole day of racing. Teams got to compete at least two times.”

This year, Rammel said he expects closer to 20 teams.

A team consists of five members who paddle the canoe and a steersman, provided by Hui Heihei Wa’a or a sister canoe club.

“The steersman is always experienced,” he said. “If you get out there with a steersman that doesn’t know what they’re doing, you’ll go all over the course. So the steersman is from our club or a sister club.”

And while it seems like the race would be dominated by club squads (in addition to Silverdale’s club, clubs from throughout Western Washington and Oregon attend the race), Rammel said everybody stays competitive.

“It’s not a stacked deck,” he said. “We just go out and have some fun competition against each other.”

In fact, Rammel said the Silverdale club even has open practices to get those canoers that aren’t as familiar with their boat more comfortable in the water.

“What we also do is two weeks before we invite all the teams to come down and practice,” he said. “It’s not something that everybody does all the time. You need a little bit of instruction. A little training, a little practice and it pays off good dividends.”

The Dash will consist of first-heat races, as well as a consolation and finals bracket, guaranteeing that every team will race twice.

But the Dyes Inlet Dash doesn’t just provide waterfront entertainment during the festival. Rammel said the club tends to pick up a few new members as well.

“That’s one of the big things we get out of it,” he said. “A lot of people see these canoes — and they’re huge; 44-feet long. They see it or get invited and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to do this.’ So we invite them out. This gives them a chance to experience it and possibly get involved.”

Rammel said there’s something in the sport for everyone, inviting anyone interested to come check it out.

The club also meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. at Silverdale Waterfront Park and is open to the public.

“There’s two things I really enjoy about it,” Rammel said. “The aloha spirit, like the camaraderie of canoe racing. Even though it’s one of the fastest growing sports, it’s still small enough to know who you’re competing with. As soon as you’re out of the water, everyone is friends again.

“The other is out on the water, it’s just you and the canoe.”

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