By Maria Gregoriou
Tomorrow morning, get out to Germasogeia water dam in Limassol where the Cyprus Dragon Boat Association will be having its first race of the year.
Although dragon boating is a very exciting sport in itself, the story behind it is of equal interest. Dragon boating has its roots in Chinese tradition and culture. The event is said to have originated two millennia ago, when the first race was organised to commemorate the death of a righteous poet.
Each boat symbolises a dragon, hence the name. The boats have dragon heads for bows, and dragon tails for sterns. The 20 paddlers, 10 on each side, symbolise, with their paddles, the dragon’s legs.
Dragon boating is a relatively new sport to the Western world, but given enough time it will have the same fan base as other water sports, since it is currently the fastest-growing water sport.
There is even talk of it becoming an Olympic sport. It is a recreational activity that anyone can take up. You can compete at different levels depending on your goals and physical fitness.
Anyone can do it. You can take it up for fun, to get fit, or just for the thrill of taking part in a sport. The association offers dragon boat training sessions every Saturday and Sunday at Germasogeia dam, so if – after watching the race – you would like to take part in dragon boating and not just be a spectator, you can ask a member of the association on the day.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen a dragon boat race or you’re already a fan, tomorrow is your chance to watch the two-kilometre race under the name Blood and Guts. The boats that will be competing will be small and standard boats, paddled by men and women.
Races will start at 10am and competition will be intense for the three Cyprus teams, namely Limassol Dragons, Limassol Spartans and ZuluForce.
The two-kilometre races, which are organised by the association every winter, are not as easy as you may think. Competitors are required to prove not only their paddling skills but also a high level of endurance, creating an exciting atmosphere both for participants and spectators – and you are sure to be cheering them on.
So come down to the dam and support the teams, then stick around after the finish for a party to celebrate the winners and team spirit in general.
Blood and Guts – Cyprus Dragon Boat Race
The first Cyprus dragon boat race. January 31. Germasogeia water dam, Limassol. 9am-12pm. Tel: 99-443351