World Dragonboat Championships: Friday Night at the Races

In a bit of unexpected brilliance, the organizers for the IDBF Dragon Boat Championships scheduled local Community Races for Friday evening from 8:00PM until whenever about 25-30 local GTA teams could get their 500 meter races done in the dead of the night. Okay, this was not the dead of the night, but rather, the very same IDBF Race Cource illuminated by lamps that brightened the water just enough so that the dragonboat teams could navigate to the start gate and make their way down the course.

A Dragonboat Crew Navigates Down the Return Lanes

A neat confluence of events made the Evening Races not just a great, but smashing success.
1)The night weather was not hostile – the late day Fiday breezes calmed as the sun set;
2)The hot and UV burning sun was not out to do its nasties as this photographer can attest;
3)The teams were young and adventurous in spirit and embraced the event;
4)There is something primevally driven being in a boat that suddenly emerges out of the dark like a stealthy Viking attack boat of 8-10centuries ago;
5)Its also fascinating to watch silver slivers of dragonboat shine slicing the waves as the boats drum and paddle their way up the course.
Dragonboats as Viking Stealth Craft

There were some other advantages to the Night Running Races. For some reason the races seemed closer, as if the boats were huddling together to get down the course – of course this could be purely an observer’s imaginings. The cooler weather and lowered breezes seemed to make for faster times. At least three teams had their seasons best time – but perhaps this is a small sample.
Watching the Racers in the Night

The teams seemed to really enjoy the fact that they were going down – oops up the same course lanes that had seen already a full days IDBF racing action – and was still to see two more days. In short they could compare their night-times to the next few days of daylight competition and enage in some vicarious triumphs. And the spectators, clad in jackets, blankets, and sweaters to ward off the chill that 6-8 weeks hence would be daylight Fall delights – they seeemed to embrace the same notions of the virtual entertainments. finally, the sounds of he water, the drumming, the lapping waves, the reflection of just waning from full Moon – any or all of these ingredients added a sense of action- a sort of Blair Witch Factor to the nights DragonBoat proceedings.

In short, this observer is not quite sure that the same magic an be conjured up readily again – but it was a truly a Dragonboating Night to remember – well echoed by the Toronto new College team whose gutteral cheers for coming out on top of the Dragonboat heap at the end of the Night Racing.
U of Toronto New College Team – Top of the Night Racers

This was spirit not only picked up by the participants but also the spectators and the volunteer staff which worked a mighty long 17 hour day. Here is a small “thank you” to just a few of the Fun-in-the-Night Providers.
Festive Crew from the Fun-in-the-Night Providers

This was a Night Ode To Be Young Again.