Jun 14, 2012|
These days, besides bikini-clad bods hogging the beaches, you’ll also start to notice dragon boat paddlers hard at work just beyond the shores. Chances are they’re prepping for the myriad races that will be taking place during the Tuen Ng festival—the origins (you know, where scholar Qu Yuan drowns himself and locals toss rice dumplings into the water and bang drums to prevent his body from being eaten) of which are now a mere footnote to the actual festivities. Even if you’re not a paddler, the races are the perfect excuse to get your bums out, cheer on your friends—and down a few drinks while you’re at it.
All the hoopla of the June 23 races is right around the corner.
This year, there are record-breaking numbers of paddlers in the dragon boat competition at Stanley—more than 250 local and expat teams with over 5,000 participants will be duking it out from 8am to 5pm. Teams compete in various divisions (ladies’, men’s and mixed) and are comprised of professional dragon boat teams and also corporate ones. But we all know why this race is so popular: the presence of corporate teams mean there’ll be plenty of junks to hop, and plenty of refreshments to go around. Pre-financial crisis, the Stanley race was THE summer party of the year; things have toned down quite a bit since, but you’ll still catch rowdy folks and drunken congregations on Stanley Main Street after the races. This is also the second year that there’ll be a “Best Costumes Award” for the best-dressed team.
June 23, Stanley Main Beach & Stanley Main Street, Stanley, 2813-0564, www.dragonboat.org.hk.
On the day of the Tuen Ng Festival, the Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade (also called the Tai O Deities Parade) will take place along with a dragon boat race. Three fishermen’s associations in Tai O organize the parade. The day before, fishermen will row boats to four temples to collect the deities’ statues and transfer them to the boats. The next day, the dragon boats will parade the statues through the waters of Tai O. The event is co-organized by the Joint Association of Traditional Dragon Boats in Tai O and the Hong Kong and South China Research Center of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Alongside the parade, there is also a dragon boat race organized by the Tai O Rural Committee from 8am to 2pm.
June 23, Tai O Promenade, Tai O Road, Lantau Island, www.tai-o.hk.
Sixty-five teams will be competing in the Aberdeen race this year. The first race starts at 8:30am and the whole event ends at 4pm. Similar to last year, distinctive booths will be set up along the Aberdeen Promenade. Viewing along the promenade is free of charge but free tickets are required to enter the bamboo-canopied spectator stand. Tickets can be obtained at the Public Enquiry Service Centre of the Home Affairs Department (G/F, Ocean Court, 3 Aberdeen Praya Rd., Aberdeen, 2575-2477).
June 23, Aberdeen Promenade, Aberdeen Praya Road, Aberdeen, 8107-3488, www.facebook.com/aberdeendragonboat.
Missed the boat on June 23? You can still join in on the races that happen later in the year.
The biggest dragon boat race of the year, the 8th International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championship (July 4-8, 9am-5pm), is an important international dragon boat race held every two years in different cities. The four-day competition promises different, exciting races of different distances each day.
The smaller-scale 2012 Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races (July 2, 9am-5pm) features more local teams. The San Miguel Beer Fest will also be serving free booze at the nearby UC Centenary Garden—need we say more?
July 2, 4-8, Victoria Harbour, East Tsim Sha Tsui, 2508-1234, www.discoverhongkong.com.
Experience the passion of dragon boaters at the Southern District Dragon Boat Race. One hundred fifty local and international teams will partake in the competition. Expect a particularly thrilling competition as teams race in small boats, which are faster and make for more aggressive heats.
August 2, 8am-6pm, Waterfront Promenade, Ap Lei Chau, 9277-0898.
Held in celebration of National Day, Summer Vigor 2012 includes a morning dragon boat race, a parade featuring world-renowned Shao Lin Temple monks in the afternoon and a poon choi feast at night. The race features over 100 local teams, which include professionals like the CLP Dragon Boat Team and amateurs like the Lions College Dragon Boat Team.
September 2, 8am-3:30pm, Sai Kung Public Pier, 2792-2226.
To remind the public that dragon boating’s cultural value goes beyond the Tuen Ng Festival, the Shau Kei Wan National Day race tries to establish dragon boat racing as a professional sport. Local teams will compete alongside professional international teams.
October 1, 8am-5pm, Typhoon Shelter, Shau Kei Wan, 9455-1977.
Tired of being a spectator? Join a club and get paddling.
With the frequent use of the Victoria Recreation Club as its base, The Hong Kong Island Paddle Club, best known as the Island Paddle Club, eventually merged with the former and formed the official Victoria Recreation Club—Paddle section early in 2012. There is no age limit to dragon boat training—teenagers and the elderly can join—as The Club aims to encourage more people to participate in the robust water sport. The Island Paddle Club is an enthusiastic and competitive team, which has scored excellent results in the past. The Victoria Recreation Club has two clubhouses in Sai Kung and Deep Water Bay.
710 Island Rd., Deep Water Bay, www.victoriarecreationclub.com.hk
This passionate dragon boat club welcomes anyone, as long as you share the same devotion for dragon boating (unless you can’t swim, in which case watching from afar is the better option). “We take our training and practice very seriously, but the relationship among club members is the more important thing,” says Kim Chan, chairperson of the club. Training is every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in Pak Sha Wan from February to October, and you better attend more than one session as they take training seriously. $800 annual fee, $350 for students.
Unit C, 20/F, Seabright Plaza, 9-23 Shell St., North Point, 2566-9988, www.wayyoungdragon.com
Motivated? Check. Visually appealing? Check. Outgoing and a party-animal? Check. Congrats! You’re a perfect fit for Fair Dinkum Club, the dragon boat club that calls itself the FD Family. The club features a wild annual pool party and other crazy nights out after intense training sessions. You’ll also become a better person with the many charity opportunities presented by being in the family. But don’t think that having fun is all Fair Dinkum does. With practice three times a week (beer and hotdogs afterwards), Fair Dinkum is athletically very demanding—it is one of the top five teams that qualified to race in six categories at the Club Crew World Championships. It is as its name—an Australian colloquial term—suggests: the real deal. If the partying and charity events sound appealing, but the physical part scares you, join as a social member or be part of the social dragon boat team which trains every Sunday. Membership fees range from $1,000 to $2,000 annually depending on how “privileged” you want to be.