Dragon boat festival launches in Transcona

BRENDA BOONSTRA -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

The race is on.

The fourth annual River City Dragon Boat Festival started yesterday, and organizers say this year is shaping up to be the best yet.

"Event-goers can expect one great party," said Jeff Dzikowicz, executive director of the Manitoba Paddling Association. "Our event is growing every year. We have got teams out from all over Manitoba this year."

52 RACES

Dragon boat racing comes from a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that sees dragon boats raced on the fifth day of the fifth moon.

Fifty teams have signed up for the three-day event, and 52 races are planned with each team racing in four heats. They will compete in either a mixed or women's category.

Competitors race 500 metres in one of eight MPA dragon boats across Lake Shirley at the water-ski park in Transcona. The boats are 40 feet long -- roughly the same length as a Winnipeg Transit bus -- and hold 22 people: 20 paddlers, one person to steer, and one person to drum.

Dzikowicz said the real skill comes in the timing.

"The trick is not in the strength," said Dzikowicz. "It is in the rhythm. If you're off even a little bit, you're actually working against yourself. You have to really be in synch."

Races will run today from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and tomorrow from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. J.P. Hoe and the Perpetrators are just a few performers who will be appearing at the three-day festival.

Anyone wishing to donate money will have plenty of opportunities.

Money raised by the event supports pediatric clinical trials at CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, a non-funded program that helps children with cancer. Dzikowicz said they have set the fundraising goal at $70,000, hoping to beat last year's total by $10,000.


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