Cebu to host first-ever Dragon Boat Fiesta in April
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu is gearing up for the first-ever Cebu Dragon Boat Fiesta 2017 at the Cebu Yacht Club in April, which is expected to draw a big number of local and foreign participants.
The event – organized by the Dragon Boat Cebu Central (DBCC) with the full support of the Cebu provincial government through the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission (CPSC) – is expected to gather about 40 foreign and local teams. It will be the biggest number in any Dragon Boat race held in the Philippines.
Nonnie Lopez, a former national team member and Gruppo Habagat coach, clarified that the April 29-30 event is not yet an international competition as it is just a club crew competition.
It will feature several teams from outside the Philippines, and will build on Cebu’s potential to become a hub for Dragon Boat racing in the country.
“We are praying that the Cebuano community will help us embrace Dragon Boat,” said Charly Holganza, one of the event organizers as well as one of the firsts to introduce the sport here about two years ago.
Two teams from the US are expected to participate in the event, which a team each from Guam and Hong Kong have confirmed their participation. Those who have sent feelers are teams from Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.
Interestingly, the local teams will be spearheaded by a team of differently-abled paddlers of the PADS (Philippine Accessible Disability Services) Cross Disability Dragon Boat Team headed by JP Maunes. The team from Cebu is the first cross disability dragon boat team in the Philippines.
The group will also be the beneficiary of the event. According to Lopez, the proceeds will be used to fund the PADS team who will be seeing action in Hong Kong.
Dragon Boat World Championship
Organizers are hoping that the April Dragon Boat Fiesta will paved the way for Cebu to someday host an international Dragon Boat competition such as the World Championships.
Holganza said that they plan to make this event part of Cebu’s annual tourism offering in the second quarter of the year to encourage more participation and further promote the sport here.
“Cebu has the potential to be a hub for Dragon Boat and any other sports because of its accessibility. You have the airports and the hotels,” said Holganza, adding that something unique to Cebu is that most of its towns have a coastline.
Lopez added that having sporting events in the city will also help boost Cebu’s economy. The 40 teams alone will translate to 1,000 individual participants, plus their families, which will mean more revenues for tourism and other local businesses.
This is also one of the primary reasons why the CPSC has thrown its support for the event.
“We started giving our support to this in 2015 because economy-wise, it will attract more tourist and there is also the potential of discovering talents,” said lawyer Ramil Abing, CPSC executive director.
Lopez agreed, saying that “there is a deep pool of talents waiting to be tapped here in Cebu.”
Deep pool of talents in Cebu
Randy Su, also one of the organizers, said that they have started tapping colleges and universities to form their own teams and join competitions.
Bohol, which got involved in the sport slightly ahead of Cebu, now has an inter-college competition. Su said that they are hoping that Cebu can do something similar.
Su added that they have organized several Dragon Boat races and clinics in the past years in Bogo, Argao, and Danao and they are planning to do more. At the moment, they are in the process of looking for a suitable venue for Dragon Boat racing.
According to Su, Dragon Boat racing is a good sport for Filipinos because “paddling is second nature to Filipinos.” He said it is a sport that the Filipinos can excel in.
Dragon Boat Fiesta
Although the official competition dates are on April 29 and 30, Lopez said that a friendly competition will be held on April 28.
“We call it the 'friendship race.' Teams will be mixed so in one team you will have a US team member and locals, then they will race from the old bridge to the new bridge. It will be a test on who will be faster to synchronize their paddling with just a 5-minute practice,” Lopez said.
Organizers will coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) since the race would be plying a commercial route.
Holganza said the racing lanes will be away from the boat traffic, and that they are hoping that big boats would double as breakwaters to ease the waves that may hit the participants.
They are also hoping that the Marina could send out memos to fastcrafts to slow down their speed to maybe 2 to 3 knots when passing by the area of the competition.
The race categories are All Women’s, All Men’s, Mixed Crew, and Masters. With the exception of the except for the All Men’s which will only join the 500-meter race, all others will join the 500-meter and 250-meter races. – Rappler.com