THE world’s best Dragon Boat crews will compete at the 10th biennial Club Crew World Championships in South Australia next week.
Men and women from across the globe will compete at the six-day event, which is the sport’s top competition.
The Australian Dragon Boat championships (23-28 March) and Asian Championships (29-31) will act as important previews to the world championships at West Lakes in the South Australian capital of Adelaide.
“As far as I know, no one else has attempted to do three events one after the other,” said Dragon Boat South Australia president John Holland.
“We will have club against club, country against country, in the 200m, 500m, and 2000m events, some of which will be happening simultaneously.”
“It’s all getting to be very exciting.”
Holland said preparations were nearly complete and volunteers were busy unloading 40 new dragon boats to the regatta course.
The new boats were purchased from International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) sponsors Shanghai Peisheng Boat Co, the biggest manufacturer of dragon boats in China.
“We were told how good Peisheng boats are,” Holland said. “They are really sturdy and strong.”
“They have to be to balance almost two tonnes of weight, but they are also extremely lightweight.”
Original boats were made out of teak, but the modern boat has been modified using fibreglass.
Dragon boats are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. They were used for religious purposes as a way of appeasing the rain gods.
The first Club Crew World Championships were held in Canada in 1996.
Racing has also played a major role in Chinese culture and began more than 2000 years ago, representing patriotism and group identity.
The IDBF boats include a dragon’s head at the bow with a drummer sat just behind to keep tempo. A dragon’s tail is also attached to the boat hanging off the stern, behind the team member steering with the sweep oar.
The boats - 20 standard boats and 20 small - were unloaded at the West Lakes course last week, seating 20 paddlers and 10 paddlers respectively.
More than 6000 paddlers will compete over the course of the three championships, with open men’s, women’s, and mixed classes racing in each category.
Visitors will be able to enjoy Adelaide’s beaches, cafés, nearby wine regions such as McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley. Trips to visit galleries, museums and Chinatown in the city centre will also be within easy reach.
Club Crews from around the world who have qualified through regional events will compete at the World Championships.
Countries represented at the World Championships are Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United States and Australia.
“There is going to be a lot of people from Asia and around the world coming down to West Lakes for the races,” said volunteer and Subsonix team member Brendon Ruth.
“It is going to be really cool to compete against so many good teams.”