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CHINESE DRAGON BOAT RACING (article first published : 2003-04-15)

The Chinese Community celebrate one of three major sporting events every year and one is the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Race which happens annually on major dams in Gauteng. Recently, the Wilson’s Wharf area saw the spectacular launch of KZN’s first official Chinese Dragon Boats and the launch of the newly founded Dragon Boat Association in KZN.

“The Chinese Dragon Boat Association of Gauteng was formed several years ago and for the main part - has been enjoyed in Gauteng, “says Lionel Benham, chairman of the association, who recently took part in the festivities surrounding the launch of Wilson’s Wharf.

“It was during this time that we considered starting a club and introducing the sport to KZN enthusiasts,” he says. “Chinese Dragon Boat Racing is a relatively new sport in SA waters although this eight (sometimes 18) –person rowing boat sport enjoys global participation and has recently become an official Olympic event. Durban provides the perfect opportunity – particularly with the added advantage of training waters to be in and around the superb Wilson’s Wharf area although this has not yet been confirmed.”

In addition, the Chinese Dragon Boat Association launched two magnificent traditionally-built brand new wooden boats into the KZN waters. These boats were donated by the Taiwanese Department of Foreign Affairs and the KZN launch was sponsored by the Republic of China. Vice Chairman Vincent Lin attended the launch ceremony with Taiwanese Director General John Lee who flew into Durban especially to officiate at this event.

The official ceremony also included the dragon awakening ceremony and here Durban’s deputy mayor, Cllr Logie Naidoo was involved in painting the dragons’ eyes with paint and water.

The event is a precursor to the main Chinese Dragon Boat Festival which is Scheduled for December 2003 and is proposed to become an annual event on the Durban calendar. Chinese Dragon Boat Racing is not only a competition of strength and incredible beauty but it also demonstrates the spirit of togetherness!

Anyone interested in the sport may contact Roy Swingewood on 083 274 2551 or Dale Vivian on 082 784 4152.




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