Skip to content

Longboarders roll through Pender Harbour

For a few sunny hours last Sunday, Pender Harbour dropped its sleepy backwater status and became a frenzied hub of extreme athletics.

For a few sunny hours last Sunday, Pender Harbour dropped its sleepy backwater status and became a frenzied hub of extreme athletics. Some of the world's top downhill longboarders rolled into the harbour for what has become one the province's premier longboarding events, Attack of Danger Bay.

This was the third edition of the Danger Bay race, taking place in Francis Peninsula. It was attended by top racers from Colorado, California, Washington state and all over B.C.

Longboarding is a cringe-inducing sport that produced many crashes but few serious injuries on this day.

Boarders, clad in protective equipment ranging from a simple motorcycle helmet and weathered hockey elbow pads to more elaborate skin-tight leather body suits, stand on wheeled plywood planks of varying design and can reach speeds up to 90 km per hour, though boards on the twisty Danger Bay course maxed out around 60 km per hour. Four boarders race head to head, with the top two racers advancing to the next round.

The many twists made for high drama on the course's tightest curve - termed carnage corner by event announcer and heart and soul Bricin Lyons. The majority of fans waited in this area for racers to misjudge the turn and barrel into a stack of hay bales that saved several of the contestants from tumbling down a treed embankment.

Tumbling was a foreign concept for eventual winner Jody Wilcox, who said jokingly at the beginning of the day, "Practice is for sissies. I taught most of these guys how to ride."

The words proved prophetic as the skinny, bespectacled Wilcox won every race he entered, including the final race where he weaved between two faltering riders on Carnage Corner and rode uncontested to the finish line and a $1,000 first prize.

"I haven't fallen in three years," said Wilcox who hails from Kimberly, B.C.

One of those tangling with hay and concrete on carnage corner was 48-year-old Tad Drysdale, the oldest competitor. The Washington resident and father of two admitted that his well-groomed grey hair, collared shirt and jeans looked a little out of place among the young boarding crowd, some of whom have competed in larger internationally-televised competitions, but they welcomed him all the same. "These are a great bunch of people. My wife and kids worry about me barreling down hills with these kids, but they treat me like one of their own," Drysdale said.Drysdale first learned about the sport through, the website promoting longboard outings in B.C. run by Lyons, whose employer, Canada Post, would not allow him to compete due to the number of days he has missed due to longboard injuries and excursions. Lyons organizes and supports several longboarding events in B.C. and can be seen regularly, night and day, bombing down local hills alone and in groups.

The event culminated in a punk rock show headlined by SNFU held at the Pender Harbour Community Hall.

Lyons expects the event to continue in years to come. "Every year we get more racers and more people chipping in and helping out. We're planning to keep growing and given'er for the future," Lyons said.