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Heather Taylor

Sports: Dragon boat, marathon canoe, outrigger

Years of paddling: 40

Favourite or notable paddling teams: False Creek Racing Canoe Club’s women’s competitive dragon boat program and FCRCC’s outrigger programs, World Sprint Championships (1994, ‘96. ‘98)

Connections are important, and it’s important that we realize that connections are important, right? We need people.

Q: What do you enjoy most about paddling?

A: Well, I used to really enjoy the competition, which I still do. But I think I used to less enjoy the team side. But now I appreciate more the people on the team. But these days, I mostly just appreciate just being able to be on the water.

Q: How has the paddling community affected your life?

A: I don’t think I would have any friends if it wasn’t for the paddling community.

All the friends I have are somehow related to paddling, whether it happened in the past and they’re being maintained even though we may not be paddling together anymore, or new friends.So the friendships developed in some way or another.

Q: How active were you before COVID-19 hit?

A: I was definitely going to the gym a lot more before COVID. And I was more actively training —  paddling probably three or four, or maybe more days a week than I am now. I was training with purpose and intent, and a plan for the world distance time trials.

Q: How did you initially cope with the crisis and what are you doing now?

A: Well, what I was doing then and what I’m doing now are both the same. I was actually kind of struggling to get back on the water in the spring because of time and work and everything. The person I was training with quit. I started going to the gym more, but gave that up over a conflict. So actually I resigned myself to paddling two days a week on Saturday and Sunday. Doing long distances and more fun stuff, like paddling for many hours and taking the boats on long trips to explore a lot of local waters. It was just less intensity and more distance, more for fun and enjoyment rather than training. But then I decided to do the time trial, and I started to put a little bit more effort into it instead of just training for distance, and upped the intensity a bit.

But I don’t feel as good as I did, strength-wise.

Q: Have you learned anything about yourself or your community as a result of the crisis?

A: Connections are important, and it’s important that we realize that connections are important, right? We need people.

Q: When it comes to paddling, what is a special memory for you?

A: There are many. One is doing voyaging canoes — paddling around the islands in Hawaii. Definitely the numerous races, like Molokai or Catalina with friends. And doing some of the solo races in Hawaii, recently with Fairway Gorge. It’s super fun.

Q: Is there a coach or mentor you’d like to recognize?

A: I’m going to name a few. One: Don Irving, because he was my first coach in Dragon Boat. And he really taught me a lot as a coach. Second: I’d say Jackie Weber, more because she and I and I trained together for the world sprints in 1994, and she won her category and I won mine. And I would like to say Kamina (Jain), just out of mutual respect for her accomplishments and who she is. And then there’s the people I paddle with everyday all the time. Everybody has something to offer.

I also want to say that there’s a group of women who were on the original dragon boat team at False Creek. We went to many of the races together. There’s a core group of women who are still friends and we still get together every year. We don’t paddle so much together any more, and we’re all kind of spread out, but every year we get together. And that’s … great. It’s been that way for 20 years or more.

Q: When this crisis passes, in terms of paddling, what are you looking forward to the most when normalcy returns?

A: Paddling. Paddling. Paddling. Training closely together again, and being in a six-person crew. I’m looking forward to being able to connect with people again, without all of the restrictions hanging over our heads.

All proceeds from the 2021 calendar project will support FGPC’s race restart programs.