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‘Duel in the Desert’ returns to Penticton’s Skaha Lake

A record number of teams will be competing in this year’s outrigger canoe race
The annual Duel in the Desert outrigger canoe race ran at Penticton’s Skaha Lake on May 13, 2023. (Logan Lockhart- Western News)

A record-breaking number of crews will be in Penticton on May 11 for the 26th year of the Duel in the Desert.

The longest-running sports competition in Penticton, with the first competition in 1999, the outrigger canoe race is the second in the Canadian Outrigger Racing Canoe Association (CORA) Cup Race Series.

“We are always very excited to host this long-running event,” said Penticton Paddle Sports president, Launa Maundrell. “Traditionally we have incredible weather and it looks like this year is no exception. Most of the crews are from the Lower Mainland and Alberta so they are always happy to see the sunny Penticton weather. The crews from Edmonton have not even been on the water yet due to the cold.”

This year, 37 crews made up of 222 athletes will compete in the six-person outrigger canoes on the water of Skaha Lake.

READ MORE: Penticton’s Don Mulhall gets national recognition for contributions to paddle sports

An additional 60 or more paddlers are set to attend Sunday’s 10 km small boat races. You can expect to see one and two-person outrigger canoes, surfskis, and an assortment of other small paddlecraft.

Head down to Skaha Lake and cheer on the local mixed team from Penticton, who took first place in the first CORA Cup race in Fort Langley.

Penticton Paddle Sports has three teams entered in each of the three heats, which run at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m., over a 15-km course.

If you are looking to get involved in paddling in Penticton, an Introduction to Dragon Boat starts next week. There is still room to register for the program.

For more information check out or contact

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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