MiraBay families hosted 14 Ukrainian athletes as they participated in the 13th International Dragon Boat Federation Championship.

Four families in MiraBay hosted Ukrainian paddlers during the 13th International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships. The team of 14 dragon boat racers from Kovel in Ukraine is named Zahkidnyl Viter, which translates to ‘Western Wind.’

The MiraBay Dragon Boat Club offered to host the families following an April Skype conference with other dragon boat clubs around the world. Each family hosted two to six athletes, depending on the number of additional beds they had available in their house. A family of three from the Ukrainian team were able to be housed together thanks to the generosity of one MiraBay family.

“During the call, the president of the Ukrainian Dragon Boat Federation mentioned that they hoped to be able to send a team or two to the Club Crew World Championship in Sarasota,” explained MiraBay Club President Banks Edwards. “When asked how we could help, he mentioned help with the travel from Europe to the US and assistance with accommodations.”

The group of one steersperson, one drummer and 12 paddlers arrived in MiraBay on the weekend of July 15 and stayed for almost two weeks. They had access to the MiraBay Dragon Boat Club’s boats prior to the championship to train and prepare.

The championship teams were divided by age and gender, and each participated in two days of 2000 meter races, two days of 200-meter races and two days of 500-meter races. The competition consisted of 61 different clubs representing 10 countries, including the Ukrainian team.

Due to the current conflict in Ukraine, the team’s travel plans were delayed and their original housing plans fell through, allowing the MiraBay families to step up to fulfill this need. They also chose to host the dragon boat racers to provide some rest in the midst of the political turmoil they face in their home country.

“We’re hosting the paddlers for a number of reasons, including to reduce the barriers to their being able to compete in a championship they’ve been working for months or years to earn a spot in,” said Edwards.

For more information on the MiraBay Dragon Boat Club, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MiraBayDragonBoatClub.

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Lily Belcher is a writer for The Osprey Observer and Christian Voice Monthly. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey since completing her internship. Lily plans to attend the University of South Florida and major in Communications while writing for The Oracle.