Dragon Boat Race

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26 July 2009

One of the most spectacular water based festivals held in the Cornwall each year. Local Businesses and groups competing by racing Dragon boats in Falmouth Harbour

What do you get when you take sixteen people, give them a set of paddles, add a drummer and put them in a 40ft canoe with a professional helmsman and get them to race against a number of other teams in Falmouth Harbour. Well probably one of the most spectacular water based festivals held in the Cornwall each year. This is the Cornish Dragon Boat Challenge held each July in Falmouth.

The origin of Dragon Boating dates back 2000 years to the Chinese Kingdom of Chu, where the poet and statesman Qu Yuan (340BC-278BC) threw himself into the Mi Lo River as a final protest against the corrupt government of the time. The tragic death of Qu Yuan continues to be commemorated each year by the Duanwu Festival which has included the enactment of the event by holding dragon boat races where the boats are fitted with dragon-heads to ward off evil water spirits and drums are beat to ward off the fish.

In recent years Dragon Boat racing has become a well established sport that has spread all over the world, and there are a number of clubs in this country. But it is also an event that can be enjoyed by the novice, with a teams success being much more dependent on their team work rather than individuals performances.

Dragon Boating first came to Falmouth in 1984 and was run by the local Rotary Club until the RNLI took over the running of the event five years ago. Today over 40 teams compete together on the water in Falmouth Harbour raising money for the RNLI so that its volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards can continue to save lives around our Cornish Coast.

Each team consist of sixteen paddlers and a drummer, and although no previous experience is required it helps if at least if the drummer has a sense of rhythm!

The teams come from all sorts of backgrounds including corporate companies, hotels, pubs, plus local organisations and groups. The teams come from all over Cornwall and many of them come back year on year to compete against each other and a friendly level of rivalry has certainly built up.

But one of the great things about the event is that it provides a magnificent spectacle and many people just come along to watch the racing and get involved in the whole carnival type atmosphere that surrounds the weekend, which is now well established in the local event calendar.