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Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival announces new paddling challenge Ottawa Wa'a

Following a successful winter virtual event, the team behind the Tim Horton's Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival is gearing up for another fun virtual challenge, and this time they are asking participants to tackle the entire length of the Rideau Canal. 

Welcome to the OTTAWA WA’A

The OTTAWA WA’A is an all-inclusive paddling sports challenge that received its name “Wa’a” from the traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe. The inaugural OTTAWA WA'A was held in 2018 at Mooney’s Bay as part of the annual Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival. 

“Like our participants, we love the outdoors, the water and all kinds of paddling/rowing sports. So in 2018, we introduced the OTTAWA WA'A as another component of the summer festival that we all love so much,” says festival director Antony Cooper. “It was an opportunity for new and existing competitors to get on the water to enjoy and experience multiple disciplines. Like so many events worldwide the 2020 edition was preempted by the global pandemic so while we still can’t gather together in 2021 we are just as excited to get out on the water and safely enjoy everything from single sculls to stand up paddleboard and all the great water activities in between.”

OTTAWA WA’A is open to OC1 (Outrigger Canoe), SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board), Surf Ski, 1X (Single Scull), Kayak, Canoe, Paddle Ergs or any other paddle-powered watercraft. 

“We encourage everyone to have fun, try different watercraft, try different locations rivers, lakes, oceans in your area and post photos using the hashtag #ottawawaa,” Cooper says.
 
Registered participants can pursue championship gold by paddling anywhere in the world to complete a cumulative distance of 202k/126 miles, which is the length of the historic Rideau Canal. 
If this virtual event and others like it do one thing, they keep the community spirit alive. 

“Hosting the 2021 virtual edition of the OTTAWA WA'A gives us and our participants the opportunity for community and to celebrate each other's accomplishments in a new and unique way until the time comes when we can join each other in person once again,” Cooper says. “Something that I think we are all learning during due to the various restrictions and lockdowns is the importance of community. We all need support from our co-workers, our friends, and our family. We've also seen how important getting out there into the outdoors is.”

To register visit the event Race Roster page. 

"In Hawaiian culture the lei is given as a symbol of welcome and affection, so we offer a virtual lei made of Canadian Provincial and Territorial flowers to welcome participants from far and wide to register in this year’s OTTAWA WA’A," Cooper says. 

Lead photo by Naim Ferguson.

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