How to race your dragon

2015-05-05 06:00
Above: Teams took to the water in the first heat. Each team rowed a total of three times on the day.

Samantha Lee

Above: Teams took to the water in the first heat. Each team rowed a total of three times on the day. PHOTOS: Samantha Lee

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Thousands of people flocked to the Vandamp;A Waterfront to watch 60 teams from all over the Western Cape compete in the third annual dragon boat regatta.

The event, hosted by the New Apostolic Church, took place on Monday 6 April and featured more than 1 400 participants.

This is the third consecutive regatta hosted by the church. Although they started in 2001, the regatta had been put on hold until 2013.

Each team was scheduled to compete in two races in order to qualify for one of 14 tail race finals. This also resulted in 20 awards being handed out on the day.

From Mitchell’s Plain to Grassy Park to as far as Port Elizabeth, excited team members made their way to the Waterfront for a day of fun in the sun. Races included four boats of 22 members each and lasted between 28 and 40 seconds.

Youth committee member Samantha ­Arendse says the day was a huge success.

“Our youth enjoyed being together and young and old could join us to be part of the excitement while cheering for their favourite dragon boat teams. Many of the participants, family, friends and spectators have already enquired about next year’s event. About 5 200 people attended of which 1 440 were competitors,” she says.

Teams representing Northpine, Somerset West, Strand, Vrijzee, Wesbank, Epping, Goodwood, Townsend, Netreg, Kensington, Belhar, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Highbury, ­Avondale, Tuscany Glen, Bonteheuwel, Kuilsriver, Macassar, Retreat and Worcester took home trophies on the day.

Shereen Abrahams from Mitchell’s Plain says she had a ball.

“The races were short but it was very exciting,” Abrahams says.

Arendse says they will continue to host such events in future.

“It is important to foster the fellowship and allow members of all areas and age groups to meet and interact with each other under the auspices of our leadership and a controlled environment. Monte Dragons also assured us that all safety and security measures exceeded and surpassed the harbour master and the Vandamp;A Waterfront management team’s requirements and criteria,” she says.

According to Arendse the event has had a ripple effect.

“Most of these teams have subsequently joined various dragon boat racing clubs in the Peninsula and surrounds, ensuring that our youth are kept busy. Both the New Apostolic Church and Monte Dragons share a goal in taking our young people off the streets and involving them in good and healthy activities,” she says

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