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Breaking records: Second annual Dondelinger GM Sprint Cup features 7 teams

The River City Dragons celebrate their record time in the second annual GM Dondelinger Sprint Cup Friday evening at the Lake Bemidji waterfront. MALACHI PETERSEN | BEMIDJI PIONEER1 / 2
The Bemidji State University “Dispicable Beavers” Dragon Boat team holds their banner during the Parade of Teams Friday evening at the Bemidji Waterfront. MALACHI PETERSEN | BEMIDJI PIONEER 2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- It was a record breaking Friday night for the Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival.

More than 60 teams paraded through the Lake Bemidji waterfront to kick off the festivities for the start of the second annual Dondelinger GM Sprint Cup. This year's Sprint Cup featured seven teams competing for the lowest combined time in the 200 meter race. Due to the odd number of teams there were two heats of two races each for a combined number of four races.

The first race began with a slow start with none of the first teams gaining an advantage. Then in the second race, records began to be broken. The Park Rapids Rotary Wavemakers went all out in the second race, breaking the record for the fastest time of 1:03.60 with their time of 1:03.21. In the very next race their shortly held record was then shattered by both the Elite Fitness and Performance Oar We There Yets and the River City Dragons. The River City Dragons' time of 1:00.08 beat out the Oar We There Yet's time of 1:01.61 to help them win the Sprint Cup for the second time in the Cup's two year history.

Taz Stuart, team captain of the Canada-based River City Dragons, said the key to the team's success is the amount of time they practice together.

"We're a bunch of paddlers that work all year," he said. "We go on the pool in the wintertime and in the summertime we're on the Red River."

Stuart also said the team has a secret technique they use when they start the race.

"It's all about your start, and in my opinion the start is key."

Brian Bissonette, one of the organizers of the event, said he was pleased with the large crowd that turned out to watch the festivities.

"It was a beautiful night. You will not get much better Dragon Boat weather than this and we had some competitive racing tonight," he said.

The Bemidji Dragon Boat festival continues today with more races and live music. For more information visit

Today's events

• 7:30 a.m. - Bemidji Dragon Boat 5K run/walk

• 8 a.m.- Race Day breakfast in the Dragon's Den

• 8:30 a.m. - First round of races

• 10 a.m. - Food court opens

• 12:00 p.m. - Dragon's Den opens

• 1:00 p.m. - Second round of races

• 4:45 p.m. - Race finals

• 5:15 p.m. - Awards ceremony with live music by Troubadour immediately following. (Awards ceremony will take place directly after the race finals. All times subject to change)