Bill Burek - Dragon Boat Pioneer Builder
Organized by: PanAm DragonBoat
The vast majority of you didn't know Bill. He was simply a quiet, intelligent, modest craftsman who came to Canada from Poland 25 years ago and, for almost 20 years, put his thoughts and efforts towards building the world's best dragon boats. If you have trained and raced dragon boats in Canada or the USA at any point between 1997 and present day you have literally sat your butt on his handiwork. Sadly, Bill passed this week after a short battle with a particularly aggressive form of bladder cancer. Up until 1997 I had personally built several dragon boats (with help from friends) in order to kick-start Great White North as the world's first company dedicated to the production and growth of the sport. But I was no boat builder and searched for someone who could manufacture a high quality wooden dragon boat for us. That someone was Bill. In the late 1990's the fiberglass dragon boat had debuted in Europe and after travelling to the 1999 IDBF WC in England we began to import fiberglass BuK shells into Canada. Bill was contracted to complete all the retrofits on these boats for the North American market. Many festivals were spawned and hundreds of boats were sold based on the quality workmanship that Bill built into each hull. The very first boat that was tested in early spring of 2000 is still in service today in Belleville, Ontario. His boats went on to be used at IDBF world championships in Philadelphia and Cape Town and at numerous regional and national championships. We are raising money to assist Bill's family with funeral costs and to bring his mother and other family members from Poland to Canada for the week of memorial services. Our appeal is going out to the Toronto Polish community and to the much wider community of dragon boaters in North America to whom Bill had dedicated his life's work to build us a fabulous boat in which we train and race every day. Please consider assisting us to reach our goal.