Dragon boats return with a roar

November 26, 2021 BY

Racing: Organisers said it was a relief to be back on the water after delays due to COVID restrictions. Photo: LOLA SPEER

DRAGON boat crews from across Victoria gathered on Lake Wendouree last Sunday for the sport’s first major regatta in months.

Having been postponed due to lockdowns, the Ballarat Dragon Boat Regatta was given the green light following eased restrictions, with over 15 clubs in attendance.

Race official Georgia Parry said it has been a long-anticipated return.

“Restrictions have seriously impacted every club’s ability to train. We have had limits on how many people could attend training sessions, and how many people were allowed in the boat,” she said.

“The clubs have done a fine job getting themselves ready with a short lead time.”

The day was deemed an all-round success, and the event saw a variety of categories, including women’s, open and mixed races.

Although “treacherous” conditions created a challenging racing environment, officials and teams collaborated to find solutions that ensured the races were able to continue smoothly.

Currently Australia’s fastest-growing water sport, dragon boat racing has existed for thousands of years, originating as an ancient Chinese folk ritual to encourage rainfall and celebrate the summer rice planting.

Now, the sport is practiced in over 60 countries, with three clubs racing competitively in Ballarat: Golden Dragons, Dragons Abreast and Ballarat Chinese Dragon Boat.

For many, the appeal of dragon boating comes from its strong aspects of community and mateship.

“It offers potential members with a new family of people who are welcoming, friendly and supportive,” said Ms Parry.

“It’s a wonderful way to meet people and improve fitness.”

 

– LOLA SPEER

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