The Pirates were born in the Spring of 2005 when a member of the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club decided he wanted to try his hand at coaching his own dragon boat team.
He reached out to the local community to find some scalawags and cut throats that would be brave enough to go paddle the open seas (Harrison Lake actually) with him.
He was able to muster a full crew and off he went with his new band of drunkards (paddlers). A Pirates lot all of them, as the story goes. It was a slow but methodical process for the new coach and his crew. All but 2 people in the boat were brand new to the sport. The crew worked hard to learn this new water sport. New terminologies were taught. A seating plan was created and a race plan was put together. Between the twice weekly practices, the social side of the sport was introduced. Team dinner, parties and other get-togethers were scheduled. Unsure if more partying was done or more paddling.
The Pirates first race was at the now defuncted Bill Alley Memorial Regatta in Port Coquitlam. A beautiful venue located near the Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby. The coach was asked before the regatta what a typical race time might be. He indicated that most recreational teams will take around two and a half minutes to paddle a 500m race with a very good crew able to get close to a 2 minute race. You could imagine, to our surprise, the feeling we got for pulling a sub 2 minute race the first time out. 1:57 was our time. We thought we were the best team at the event. That inflated ego came crashing back to reality on the subsequent races. Second race we pulled off a 3 minute race. This is where we stayed for the remainder of the event.
As it turned out, we were racing in the Burrard Inlet which is a tidal body of water. Our first race saw the tide coming in and that propelled us to that sub 2 minute race. As it turned out the rest of the numbers for that day reflected those of a novice first year dragon boat team. We were disappointed but not discouraged. We continued with the practices and entered a few more races throughout the season. The end result proved positive for the team as we won our first medal at the Kelowna Dragon Boat Regatta in the fall. That medal win solidified the crew and created a core group of paddlers that would stay together for years to come.
Crew members have come and gone over the years but the traditions that were started back in 2005 still shine bright today. You will be able to spot a Pirate a mile away as their jerseys are very bright and very unique. You still find Pirates in the beer gardens after and sometimes during a regatta and you will definitely find Pirates at the podium collecting their bounty.
If you ever get to listen to some of the old Pirate stories you will here the history of a unique dragon boat team that has had people from all walks of life, all age groups and all athletic abilities wear its colors and race. These people most likely would never have crossed paths with each other if it were not for this sport. The Pirates truly are a family. Once a Pirate, always a Pirate.
Spotting a Pirate at a dragon boat regatta has always been an easy endeavor. Their jerseys are traditionally bright and vibrant and unique to only them.
That has not always been the case though. The original Pirate jersey was a black t-shirt with a white logo. These shirts were worn for the first year only. The matching hoodie was also a great way to accessorize during that first year.
The following year the Pirates went away from the t-shirt and adopted a more colourful look. The new quick dry jersey saw the addition of red sleeves and a red neck with the same logo from the year before
These jerseys saw the Pirates through to the summer of 2009. A completely new design and colour scheme came into affect in July of 2009. White background with a dark blue blast pattern came from the center of the shirt. An updated logo was located over the blast pattern with a new font used to spell out Pirates. The red sleeves adorned the logo, the Pirates catch phrases and a Maple Leaf to signify Canada.
The spring of 2015 saw the latest design come to be. An island view with sandy beaches and palm trees swaying in the foreground. A large pirate flag thrust into the ground as if the island had just been claimed. A Pirate ship lurking in the background.