Dozens turn out to do the Dash

JR Fernandez (right), Kyle Aardahl (center) and Kevin Siperek (left) of Team Spiros push toward the finish line. - Photo by Jesse Beals
JR Fernandez (right), Kyle Aardahl (center) and Kevin Siperek (left) of Team Spiros push toward the finish line.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

After a one-year absence from the Whaling Days festival, the Dyes Inlet Dash organizers weren’t about to let a little problem get in their way.

After realizing the tide was too far out to get their safety power boat in the water at Silverdale Waterfront Park on Sunday morning, event organizers decided to try to dock the boat in Bremerton. Unfortunately, the tide was still too far out.

“The only thing we had was our power safety boat had to be lifted off the trailer by a group,” Patrick Rammel, organizer of the Dash and president of the Hui Heihei Wa’a outrigger canoe club, said.

The crew returned back to Waterfront Park and decided to enlist a little help, as a group of volunteers was needed to lift the boat off its trailer and into the inlet.

But once it was in the water, it was smooth sailing for the third annual Dyes Inlet Dash. The outrigger canoe race didn’t take place last year.

With 16 teams in the three divisions, the competitors ranged from 73 years old to high school students.

In the women’s division, Stewart Title topped Pualani in the field of just two. The men’s race featured six teams, with Team Jennings topping Team Spiros in a close finale. The co-eds, which had the largest turnout of eight teams, also featured a neck-and-neck title race, with the Hawaii Surf Paddlers edging the Lockheed Martin Marlins.

Along with the range of diversity in the race came a diversity of experience.

“It’s kind of like anything with a new skill or hobby,” Rammel said. “Everybody feels uncoordinated to start with. It’s fun to see somebody really have fun and get with it. With any sport, if you enjoy it, you want to be able to spread it.”

Racers had two weeks to practice with the club, which provided experienced steersmen for each of the teams. Rammel ended up steering for Team BAE.

“They came out and practiced two weeks before,” he said. “They’re getting pretty good at it.”

For 42-year-old Seabeck resident David Danford, a member of the Lockheed Martin squad, the weekend offered a chance to take on a new experience.

“Everything is a new challenge when you start getting older,” Danford said. “It’s kind of cool. I can’t feel how fast we’re going because I’m focused ahead, but it’s cool.”

Danford said he’s now considering joining the club after getting a taste of the sport.

“Actually, I might join the club,” he said. “If you’re not a paddler when you get started, by the time you get out there you will be.”

Rammel said the club usually adds a few new members after the Whaling Days races.

“We usually pick up a few paddlers,” Rammel said. “They can finish out the season with us and start out full next time. A lot of times they’ll see the canoes and say, ‘What do I have to do?’ Just come on down.”

That’s what Ron Lund, the oldest competitor and club member at 73, did eight years ago.

“I wanted the grandkids to get involved,” Lund said. “So I brought them down and said, ‘Hey, how do we get started?’ My grandkids started. Well, my grandson went a couple of years and my granddaughter still paddles.”

So does Lund, although he served as a steersman in the Dash. Lund, used to paddling, said it was a challenge to keep from helping his team more than allowed.

“This is my first year as a steersman,” Lund said. “I paddled for all those years in the past. They needed some steersmen, so I decided to try it. I’ve steered ever since.

“I like paddling best. I feel like I can contribute more paddling.”

Club members are not allowed to participate in the race as paddlers to avoid an unfair advantage over more novice competitors.

“We have to fight the normal way we paddle,” Rammel said, sharing Lund’s sentiments. “Because we want to help the team as much as possible. If they’re a regular club paddler then they can’t compete except as a steersman. If they’re novice, they can paddle, but they can’t stack a team.”

Even the Whaling Days planners got involved in the race, forming the Whaling Days Execs.

“We’ve done it in every one. It’s kind of a cross promotion thing,” Whaling Days president Barry Iles said. “I love it out there. You get wet, you get sun. It draws businesses together. And it’s multi-cultural.

“And it gets me away from my radio and phone. That’s always nice.”

Iles said he was just honored to be a part of such a community event.

“Absolutely; that’s what’s fun about it,” he said. “The bonding, the community building. Win or lose, it’s just a lot of fun.”

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