If there was an opportunity for you to paddle a dragon boat across the Mactan Channel, would you?
If you’d ask me, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
This was how I spent my 24th day of June: a crash course on dragon boating.
Dragon Boating 101
It is a competitive water sport that involves a crew of 20 paddlers in a standard dragon boat sitting in a 2×10 grid and paddling in unison.
A drummer, or caller, is responsible for motivating everyone during the race, helping the boat keep the timing of the strokes. A steer in the back is responsible for piloting the boat.
Festive Celebration in Mactan Island
So when leading power and marine industrial hardware supplier Dynamic Power Weichai, together with Ariya Dynamic Power Dragons, cast off its first official event with the media and special guests from various industries to experience the sport of dragon boating, I immediately signed up.
Why take the hassle of coming up with twenty people, renting a dragon boat and securing a permit from the Philippine Coast Guard when you can experience the sport together with the Ariya Dynamic Power Dragons on their brand new 20-seater Champion™ boat given by Dynamic Power Weichai? I thought so.
Awakening of the Dragon Ceremony
Before the orientation and warm up, I was able to witness the Awakening of the Dragon Ceremony where the eyes of the dragon head are literally dotted red to awaken the spirit of the dragon. The Dotting of the Eyes is an ancient Chinese tradition that heralds the opening of paddling season to call on the dragon spirit to protect the boat and the paddlers.
My Dragon Boat Experience
For a moment on the boat along with the other guests, I actually felt like a professional athlete, kinda.
Our combined team effort actually beat the coast guard’s speed boat, as what we would all like to think.
The paddling experience with the sun setting behind the Mactan Bridge was truly surreal. You really can’t deny that this sport requires maximum effort, but I really enjoyed every minute of it.
Is this a sign for me to join or what?
Back to the Party
Oh did I forget to mention that the event was held at The Clove on the Quay at Cebu Yacht Club?
If you ever drop by for a visit, have a sip of the Ariya Sling cocktail, a signature rum-based concoction made especially for the dragon boat team.
And yes, not only were there an assortment of food and free-flowing drinks, there was also live entertainment.
Percussion instrumentalists, fire dancers and back-to-back performances from talented lady DJs Jen Weigel and Nish united to unleash the crowd’s tropical party vibe.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) ABOUT ARIYA DYNAMIC POWER DRAGONS
WHAT IS THE TEAM ALL ABOUT?
“Combining fun, fitness, team work, and a respect for nature and its elements. The challenges of moving the sport of dragon boat forward is there, but with help, we can spread the love for this sport. The Ariya Dynamic Power Dragons also pledges to clean up the Mactan Channel every time we go out to paddle,” said Team Manager Enrique Sanchez.
DO I NEED EXPERIENCE TO JOIN?
Absolutely not. Some of the team’s best current paddlers came in with no experience. Don’t hesitate to try something new. We believe that technique, strength, and skill can be developed with time.
IS THERE A TRY-OUT PROCESS?
Yes. We are open to new recruits always. Try-outs allow us to gauge your ability to push yourself and stay motivated while motivating others.
DO I NEED TO BE ATHLETIC TO JOIN?
Even though dragon boating is a very intensive physical sport, we will train you to gain endurance and get in shape. We learn together. In addition to training for races, we train for overall fitness and strength.
HOW MANY HOURS OF PRACTICE ARE THERE PER WEEK?
Current practice schedule are as follows: Pool training during Tuesday and Thursday, 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM to build endurance and establish paddling form. Land training is only on Wednesdays, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, for stamina and strength. Seawater practices are Saturday and Sunday, 5:00 AM to 9:00 AM.
WHERE DO YOU PRACTICE?
Pool training is at UC Mambaling. We train on land at the Cebu City Sports Complex (formerly Abellana). Seawater practices are at the Cebu Yacht Club, Mactan Island. Don’t worry, carpool rides are available with the team, just let us know if you need a lift.
WILL WE NEED OUR OWN GEAR FOR PRACTICE?
We will supply paddles and PFDs (personal floatation devices or life jackets) for you at our seawater and pool practices. You are not required to know how to swim.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Wear comfortable clothing that does not hold or absorb moisture. Tighter fitting clothes that does not catch water and drag is best, like dri fit material or rash guard material. Be as light as possible on the boat. Wear flip flops or aquasocks on the boat. Bring a dry set of clothes for after practice. And water! Water! Water! Never forget to hydrate.
HOW DO I JOIN ARIYA DYNAMIC POWER DRAGONS?