A volunteer team in a heritage war canoe performs a "paddle 10 salute" to members of the Kelowna Naval Veterans' Association colour party during the Okanagan Paddlefest.
However, the underlying rationale was the organizers' - and the participants' - fascination with human-powered navigation on a body of water.
When that mystique was suggested to festival co-chair Shuan Boo, he laughed and agreed.
"I grew up on an island in Malaysia, so water has always been part of my upbringing. It's great: the buoyancy of the water, the sense of freedom, you feel close to nature. Paddling also brings people, the community, together," he said while watching volunteers unload a war canoe on loan from the Penticton Museum.
Sara Hopkins, president of Canoe Kayak BC, also agreed with that fascination.
"It's a chance that you don't get in your normal life to connect with nature. There's something you can't match when you're in a park or running in an urban environment. You don't get that same connection as you do when you're on the water," she said.
"Simultaneously, you're on your own and you're one with nature. And when you're in a boat like this war canoe, you're also part of a bigger social group, and you have an opportunity to connect with other people through the sport and through the water."
Hopkins, the leader who steered the war canoe, started paddling when she was 13.
"I'll never stop," she said. "It sounds really cliche, but once you've been bitten, you're on the water for life."
Many former racers with her organization have moved to the Okanagan - "a fabulous environment for paddling."
"Hopefully, through programs like the Okanagan PaddleFest, we can get more people on the water. We're hoping to make this an annual event where all the war canoes in the province gather on Okanagan Lake."
After the ceremonial war-canoe paddle for a salute by the Kelowna Naval Veterans' Association colour party, Hopkins described the paddle as "amazing."
"We didn't fall in, the war canoe didn't sink and we looked good. It's a little rolly out there, so they did well in the conditions. As a steersperson, it gets a little bouncy back there, so my first goal is always to stay in the boat," she said with a laugh.
The volunteer team practised only three times, so it was "an incredibly steep learning curve," she said. A high-kneel paddle in a Canadian war canoe is very difficult, she said.
"It takes a lot of effort, determination, practice and on-water time."
Members of the 10-member organizing committee were a little concerned early Saturday morning when a storm blew through, the wind came up and waves built as high as a metre, but it quickly passed.
"It was really brutal this morning," said co-chair Gabi Haas. "It was thundering. It was very wavy. I heard a couple of boats capsized. A lifeguard jumped in the water. Fortunately for our event, the clouds parted."
PaddleFest organizers expected the Rattlesnake Island to Peachland Swim to finish in 3 1/2 hours or by 10:30 a.m., but due to the conditions, the last of 30 swimmers - Phred Martin, who just swam in a relay across the English Channel - finished with a time of 4:14.
In addition to the historic war canoe, the festival had traditional Chinese dragon boats, plus modern-day kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.
There was kayak, stand-up paddleboard, paddleboat and children's peach box racing. The public also tried demo kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards. Young people ages 12 to 16 made their own cardboard boat through the Peachland Boys and Girls Club.
The public brought canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, and participated in a parade of boats from Pincushion Bay to Heritage Park at 3:30 p.m.