Paddle! Lake Gregory Dragon Boat Race

by Lexa Pennington / Aug 06, 2009 /
Lexa Pennington's picture

Amateurs, Professionals to Test Skills at Dragon Boat Racing

Chinese cultural event returns to Lake Gregory in Crestline August 15-16

(July 20, 2009)   Nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains less than two
hours from the Los Angeles area, the cadence of drum beats will be heard
throughout the weekend of August 15-16 in the alpine lake setting of Lake Gregory in Crestline.  These are the sounds made by the dragon boat drummers leading their crew with rhythmic drumbeats to indicate the timing and frequency of paddling strokes.

Friends of Regional Parks (FOR Parks) will host the third annual Lake Gregory Dragon Boat Race to raise funds for San Bernardino County Regional Parks and its Active Outdoors program.  This year's event has
been expanded to two days with novice teams racing on Saturday, August
15th, and professionals racing on Sunday, August 16th.

People from Crestline to Arizona participated in this physically challenging event over the last two years.  Muscles were tested, endurance challenged and new friendships forged.  "This year's event will be bigger than ever," said Margaret Lether, President of the FOR Parks organization.  "The number of racing boats has been increased from two to four this year and we've added a full day of professional racing to the weekend," she stated.

The park, located at 24171 Lake Drive, Crestline, will open at 9:00 a.m.
Saturday at the South Beach entrance.  Team registration will take place
at 10 a.m., however to avoid waiting in a line, teams or individuals may
register online at www.forparks.org  Teams will consist of no more than
12 members for the Saturday races and participants must be eight years
or older and physically fit.  Individuals wishing to take part in the races will be assigned to a team if they do not already have a 12 member group.  Registration is $5 per person and each participant must sign a release form.

 

Chinese Dragon Boat Racing, San Bernardino Parks

 

Amateur teams will be able to practice dragon boat racing at 11 a.m. and
the actual race will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 15th.


Members of the Newport Aquatic Center and members of professional Dragon
Boat teams will serve as coaches and steer persons for the boats.  The race will take part over a 250 meter course.  Winners will be announced and awards made at 4:30 p.m.

In addition to the race, there will be ongoing Chinese cultural activities such as the Awakening the Dragon ceremony which will begin the races.   A cadence of drumbeats brings the dragon to "life" and the ceremonial "painting of the eyes" will begin the festivities.


Professional dragon boat racers
will take to the waters Sunday morning,
August 16th.  Watch the experts as they glide, paddling in unison over
the 300 meter course, moving their boats to the finish line with speed
and grace.   The race begins at 9:15 a.m. and will conclude at 4:30 p.m.
with an awards presentation.

Fees:  Park admission $3 per person

Novice registration $5 per person

Professional Registration $200/boat (maximum 20 per boat)

The dragon boats used in the two-day races were donated by Dr. Howard
Chen and the International Cultural Exchange Association to promote
Chinese cultural tradition and the sport in the Inland Empire.

Dragon Boat racing is the largest sport in Asia, and it's steeped in culture. Originating in China 2,500 years ago, a poet drowned himself because he was distraught by politics, and the local people beat drums and flailed the water to protect his spirit and to stop the fish from eating him. And it turned into a sport.  The boats are like an extended canoe with a festively painted dragon's head at the front and tail at the rear.

Dragon Boat racing was introduced to the world in 1970 when the Hong Kong staged an international Dragon Boat Festival to promote its culture.  Since then, dragon boat racing has caught on like wildfire and over 50 million people now participate in dragon boat races on every continent.  It is often heralded as the fastest growing water sport in the U. S. and one of the fastest growing corporate team-building activities in the country.

Interim Director of San Bernardino County Regional Parks, Maureen
Snelgrove
, said, "This event brings Chinese culture to the Inland Empire, something with which this region is not familiar.  And the sport, in and of itself, tends to bond people together because it truly is a team effort. Having a day dedicated to amateur racing and another to professional races we hope to grow interest in this sport in the area".

 

Information and photo provided by San Bernardino County Regional Parks