Awaken the dragon in you at free boat racing taster

Denzil Pinto 14:44 18/09/2014
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Paddle power: Strength, stamina and technical skills are key to success in dragon boat racing.

If you’re after a new sporting challenge then you may want to attend Al Bandar Dragons’ free taster session for dragon boat racing on Saturday.

You may have never known how popular dragon boat racing is, but the watersport, established in China almost 2,000 years ago, is a growing success in many countries around the world including Sweden, South Africa, the United States and the UK.

And the UAE has firmly caught dragon boat fever, with the sport quickly growing in the country with teams in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi.

And to help with the surge in popularity of the sport, the Abu Dhabi-based Al Bandar Dragons is in need of new members and will be looking for people to play a part in their quest of claiming top honours in competitions beginning with next month’s Shangri-La Boat Festival in the UAE capital.

The session, from 15:00 at Al Bandar Marina in Abu Dhabi, is open to males and females between 20 and 35 years old and will be guided by captain Hussein Salah and his team.

“With the new season just begun, we are looking to spread the message of how fun, exciting and competitive dragon boat racing really is,” explained Salah, on the reason of holding the free taster session.

“And with what will be a long season ahead, we are putting this taster session to invite people to try dragon boat racing in the hope they will sign up to be a team member this season and help us become one of the leading teams in dragon boat racing in the UAE.”

Dragon boat racing requires equal measure of strength, stamina and technical skills to paddle the boat with the body weight of 20 team members.

The distance can vary from 200m to 3km, and although you won’t be expected to be pushed to the limits on the day, Salah insists fitness will be very important.

He said: “It’s a tough but fun thing to do that requires a lot of stamina and determination to succeed. It’s another good way of keeping fit and healthy. 

“The legs, arms and shoulders will be used extensively throughout and you can lose a lot of body fat just by taking part.”

Each person will be briefed on what to expect, as well as the basic techniques to power the boat.

“There is no experience needed for dragon boat racing. People can come on Saturday and give it a try. If they like it and want to do it on a regular basis in training or competitively, then they’re welcome to join the team.

“Not everyone has done dragon boat racing so we will speak to them on how it works, the techniques and what is required.”
It’s also an opportunity to give dragon boat racing a try on the social front for those who may not be interested in taking part competitively.

“The day is open for everyone to give them an experience of what dragon boat racing is all about. If people want to try it for social purposes then we are happy for them to take part. They may not want to take part in this year’s competitions but may want to give it a try next year,” he said. 

No advanced registration is required, so just turn up on the day and enjoy the incredibly social and ultimate team sport.

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