Thousands compete for dragon boat glory

Thousands compete for dragon boat glory

More than 3,000 paddlers from across Australia will take part in more than 100 dragon boat races this weekend at Darling Harbour.

The biggest dragon boat race regatta in the Southern Hemisphere will mark the end of the City of Sydney’s 21st Chinese New Year Festival.

The two-day regatta on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February consists of a range of corporate and community races running every eight minutes.

Dragon Boat Races, Darling Harbour, Chinese New Year. 21st February 2016. Photo by DAMIAN SHAW / CITY OF SYDNEY

Jonesy and Amanda from WSFM will join the races on Sunday with a boat load of celebrity friends including Guy Sebastian, The Biggest Loser’s Shannon Ponton, Olympic rower Cameron Girdlestone, TV presenter Erin Molan and chef and The Living Room presenter, Miguel Maestre. Jonesy and Amanda and their teams will compete for the ultimate in dragon boat glory at 11.50am on Sunday.

Emerging in ancient China during the Zhou dynasty, the 2,000 year old racing tradition features 12-metre-long boats that are decorated to feature the head and tail of a dragon, a hull painted with dragon scales, and paddles to represent the claws. Each vessel is armed with 22 rowers, including a drummer to inspire the rowers with a rhythmic beat.

The action starts on Saturday morning with the eye-dotting ceremony, a unique Taoist ceremony that blesses the waters to ensure a safe weekend of racing. The dragon is ‘awakened’ by dabbing red paint onto the eyes of each boat’s figurehead.

Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, Sydney. 20th February 2016. The Sydney Chinese New Year Festival Dragon Boat Races are the biggest competitive event in Australia's dragon boat racing calendar, featuring 3,000 paddlers participating in two full days of racing on Darling Harbour. Photograph by Katherine Griffiths / City of Sydney

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the dragon boats are a symbol of good fortune and a sign of intense power and will delight festival goers as they surge through the water of Cockle Bay.

“These brightly coloured boats are always a sight to behold during our New Year celebrations,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The competition attracts community groups and competitive sports teams, and people of all ages and experience levels are invited to join in this spectacular annual event by cheering on the paddlers.”

Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, Sydney. 20th February 2016. The Sydney Chinese New Year Festival Dragon Boat Races are the biggest competitive event in Australia's dragon boat racing calendar, featuring 3,000 paddlers participating in two full days of racing on Darling Harbour. Taoist priests chant and bless the waters before Dragon Boat Racing begins. Photograph by Katherine Griffiths / City of Sydney

Saturday highlights:

  • Races with sports clubs from around NSW commence at 8.00am
  • Taoist Water blessing – 8.30am
  • Lion dance performance – 8.40am, 9.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm
  • Eye dotting ceremony – 9.00am
  • Roving drummers – 11am, 12pm, 3pm and 4pm
  • God of Wealth roving – 1-2pm

Sunday highlights:

  • Corporate heats commence at 9.00am featuring big names like Deloitte, American Express and IBM amongst some old favourites battling it out for line honours
  • Charities, cancer survivor groups and parents with disabled children commence at 9.30am
  • Lion dance performances – 11am and 1.30pm
  • All group finals commence – 1.30pm
  • Winners’ presentations – 2.15pm

CNY 2016 Dragon Boat races at Darling Harbour

The Dragon Boat Races are supported by St.George Bank with St.George’s Happy Dragon cheering on the dragon boats over the weekend.

More than 80 family-friendly events make up the Sydney Chinese New Year 2017 program, the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside of Asia. For full event details visit sydneychinesenewyear.com

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For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Advisor Elaine Kelly on 0477 362 550 or ekelly@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au or Event Publicist Sandy Ellison on 0419 383 807 or sellison@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au