1st Cebu Dragon Boat Fiesta gets underway today

By: Rabboni Centino Borbon April 28,2017 - 10:33 PM

HISTORY will finally unfold today as more than a thousand paddlers from all over the world converge for the 1st Cebu Dragon Boat Fiesta at the posh Cebu Yacht Club in Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island, Cebu.

Thirty-four teams and an estimated 1,006 paddlers will compete in the race, which will be the biggest dragon boat competition ever organized in the country.

“Our last count was one thousand six paddlers, so we are really the biggest race in the country especially now with the combination of teams from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” organizer Nonnie Lopez, a former national team member and paddler himself for 26 years, said.

“As first time organizers of this big event, we’ll try to make sure that we’ll have a fair and fun race for everyone.”

The 500-meter races will start at 6 a.m. followed by the 250-meter competition the next day. The race will be held at the seas of the Mactan Channel.

As of this writing, an opening program was held at the venue with a friendly race participated by representatives from each teams as a highlight. Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Ramon Fernandez graced the opening ceremonies.

Good place to race

Visiting teams are eager to show their skills and are also excited to see what Cebu has to offer.

“Most of us are first timers in Cebu,” Dragons of North America (DNA) team manager Berman Ng told Cebu Daily News. “So far I can see that the teams here are competitive so I think the competition here is going to be very strong.”

DNA, a team composed of Americans and Canadians who started their team in California, has been participating in different dragon boat races for the past seven years. It is coming off a successful six-medal haul in last week’s 11th Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival in Boracay.

Owen Jaen, the team manager for the Liceo Dragonoids of Cagayan de Oro, also said that Cebu is also a good place for the race.

“The venue is very nice and ideal for a dragon boat race and the facilities around are well-developed,” said Jaen.

Four teams back off

Fernandez, meanwhile, said this race will be a good avenue to promote the sport.

“We are able to gather a record-breaking participation and it is really good,” Fernandez said. “This a good marketing for the sport.”

While teams are excited to participate in the race proper, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF) decided to withdraw four of their teams at the last minute. Cebu Daily News tried to get the reason for their withdrawal but organizers refused to provide the details.

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