The fifth edition of Qatar Dragon Boat Festival will witness 26 teams competing in 31 races today (December 7) at the Grand Hyatt Doha beach area in West Bay. Speaking to 'Gulf Times', Qatar Dragon Boat Association founder Jeff Ching said people can catch the 40ft colourful fleets with dragon heads and tails racing a 200m course to the beat of Chinese drums.
“This will be the largest festival so far in terms of number of participants and teams,” he said, adding that each recreational team has been going through a series of trainings prior to the competition over the past two months. The number of participants this year comprises 16 recreational and 10 premier teams with a total of 756 paddlers representing 51 nationalities.
Recreational teams, Ching noted, are not regular paddlers but enter the races with their company as a team-building event. On the other hand, the Premier teams train all year long. He said majority of the companies who participated in the first edition have been consistently supporting this annual festival, which continues to attract a growing number of paddlers.
The recreational league, known as corporate category, can only take a maximum of 12 teams in the previous edition due to the limited number of dragon boats and allotted time for races, but has now opened to more participants due to its growing popularity. The festival, considered as the largest dragon boat competition in Qatar so far, is open to the public from 8am to 5pm.
Ching stressed that he spent a lot of his time with his wife Cherri Lee and several volunteers to make this event a success. In organising such a festival, he said, the organisation aims to promote the growth and development of dragon boat racing in Qatar at all levels of competition.
Qatar Dragon Boat Festival also strives to maintain the cultural traditions of the sport and foster camaraderie, as well as healthy and active lifestyles in the country.
It is learnt that dragon boat racing in the country started when the first dragon boat was shipped to Doha in October 2013. According to Qatar Dragon Boat Association, several dragon boat teams, as well as the organisation, set up the first dragon boat competition in Qatar. “The sport continues to grow and attract athletes of all levels in the country,” said Ching.
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