” DRAGON BOAT…. the drum beat of hope ! “
So what is Dragon boating? Enthusiasm, camaraderie, team spirit and just plain fun. The atmosphere is all that and more. It is an event that is made up of men, women and open paddling teams. Each team has 20 rowers with 1 steers-person and 1 drummer. The teams come from all over the US and Canada, and can represent a corporation, business, cause or just about anything else. The key is to put together a team and practice till they become a cohesive unit. A very rhythmically paced team can usually overpower a physically strong team.
What drew me to this event in Mercer Park was not only the amount of people who were attending this open air competition but also the almost carnival-like atmosphere. The people just oozed with support and happiness for each other and who or what they were racing for. Some raced for time, while others raced for their committed cause. You could not help but feel swept away by the many smiling faces from young and old. The power that 20 paddlers can generate took me by surprise. To see and hear 6 to 8 teams row in unison to the drum beat was mind-blowing. As I tried to get a feel for the movement of the boats and people, shooting became quite effortless. Even though I had full access to the docks and rowers, mingling between paddlers and spectators was challenging at times. What kept me focused was when each race started, hearing the race gun, then the drum beat which was followed by cheering from the crowd. This rhythm of the start, the drum beat and click of my shutter, continued throughout the day. The enthusiasm of the rowers, combined with excitement of the crowd, kept me involved …. but more importantly the beat of my heart and shutter, were in sync with the boom of the drum. That boom couldn’t help but resonate deep inside everyone… it carried the message of hope in accomplishing their cause.