The heat was a factor as shade was hard to come by Saturday, but the Richmond Sports Backers teamed up with several sponsors to bring the first Dragon Boat Festival to the James River. It was a charity event for the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation.
It was fun, active and brought many Richmonders out to a part of town that probably most had never seen. The crews mostly consisted of corporate teams from around Richmond, but there were also “ringer” teams from cities like Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte. Great for Rocketts Landing and the Shockoe Bottom area to have so many people having a great time.
What is Dragon Boat Racing? From the Great White North Dragon Boat Racing website:
Twenty paddlers move in unison, combining strength with teamwork in a boat whose elaborate design originates in ancient China… Dragon boats are 40-foot human-powered canoes decorated with ornate Chinese dragon heads. Led by the rhythmic beat of a drum, teams consisting of 20 synchronized paddlers, one drummer, and one steersperson race the canoes 500m down the river.
Teams were guaranteed three races and had plenty of time to relax and socialize in between heats. Several teams held organized cheers and calisthenics — obvious attempts to intimidate any challengers. I didn’t participate, but had many friends on a few teams. If it comes back next year, I will certainly find a team to join and do my best.
We finally got to take in the view of the James River and the Richmond skyline from deck at the Boat House at the top of the Rocketts Landing development.