Fun. Exciting. Mad. Aggressive.
Those are the words Yujin Roh, Benjamin Perry, Micah Gordon and Joshua Fowlie, all of Prince George, used to describe kayak polo after their first experience with the sport on Sunday at Nadsilnich Lake in West Lake Provincial Park.
Waterborne roughs and scraps would also be appropriate.
Wearing helmets with metal face shields, paddling in kayaks with rubber bumpers at the ends, and using paddles with thick, rounded edges to prevent injury, teams of five work to gain control of a ball and score points by throwing it through a 1.5-by-yard goal placed two meters above the water.
There are rules: Don’t hit another player with your paddle and don’t crash into another boat at a 90 degree angle or hit another boat’s cockpit.
“It’s like a bunch of sports at the same time,” Fowlie said. “Like kayaking, football, basketball.”
The four, along with coach Angus Ball, made it all the way to the semifinals before losing in sudden death. More importantly, they enjoyed playing the game.
“Mostly the adrenaline rush when you get hit by other boats,” Perry said when asked to elaborate on what makes the sport exciting.
They also discovered that throwing a ball inside a kayak floating on the water requires a bit of touch and balance. Roh said she learned to use her paddle to counter the momentum that comes with a throw.
“You crash a lot, so you have to keep your balance during that,” Gordon said.
As the BC Summer Games wrap up on Sunday, the athletes who converged on Nadsilnich have moved on, but the equipment to play the game – goals, docks and floating boundaries – has not.
Instead it was left in the care of the Prince George Canoe and Kayak Club.
Boating has its own appeal
A variety of canoe and kayak races occupied the lake Friday and Saturday. Jessica Fowlie and Gordon of Prince George took first place in the women’s C2 1,000 meters with bend and Chloe Bialuski and Roh took second place.
Jessica Fowlie also won silver in the C1 200 metres.
Paddling, whether kayaking or canoeing, whether recreational or competitive, seems to be a passion for PGCKC members.
“When you’re on the water, it’s really peaceful,” Bialuski said. “You can get into your own zone and really think.”
Gaining general strength is also part of the benefits.
“You get your core, your abs, your legs, your arms,” Bialuski said.
And it’s anything but boring.
“There are so many things to focus on when you’re in the water,” said Jessica Fowlie. “You’re focused on the sounds around you, like the tranquility. But you’re also focused on all of your shots that you’re going to make.”
“Padling, your balance, making sure you don’t tip over,” Bialuski added. “There really isn’t a time when you’re just sitting around and doing nothing.”