The boats may look Old-World China, but they have their place in modern society. According to event organizers, dragon boat racing has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.
“I think it’s because of the camaraderie,” said race committee member Jeannette Pascua-Houck. “There’s a great camaraderie. We have other water sports in San Diego, but this brings so many people together in such a tight unit that you can’t help but feel a camaraderie and closeness.”
Boats typically consist of 10- or 20-member teams, with standard 250-, 500-, 1,000- or 2,000-meter races. Along with the races is a traditional festival.
Organizers of the San Diego Dragon Boat Race and Festival feel the local event is long overdue in the area.
“I think we’ve always wanted to bring the race back, but we have spent so much time traveling all over the world in the last 27 years,” Pascua-Houck said. “Now, we have the opportunity to host the PDBA, which is Pacific Dragon Boat Association, and hold a championship race.
“Over the last probably 10 to 12 years that I’ve been involved, everyone in the community has always wanted to come down to San Diego. The city itself is an attraction. There are so many teams in Long Beach, L.A. and the Northwest that would like to see a race down south here because the majority of [the races] are probably up north. A lot of us have traveled internationally, so to finally be able to host the race here is exciting.”
The event’s host has competed in Asia, Europe and has just returned from a couple international trips, including a stop in Hungary. Back at home, the team hopes its fellow San Diegans will get involved or see what the sport is about.
“It’s an exciting sport to watch,” Pascua-Houck said. “Come down there and see the culture of the race and how it has evolved. We do have a lot of vendors coming out. It’s just a nice day to go out and picnic and watch the races.”
Pascua-Houck said the races will be visible from the shore and there will be plenty of parking and lots of action.
Volunteers are still welcome.
“We would love any type of help up until the day of the race,” Pascua-Houck said. “Anything we could get from the outside would be great.”
The event helps raise money and awareness for the City of Hope cancer center in Los Angeles. This cause hits close to home for one competing dragon boat race team called Team Survivors, which is made up of cancer survivors.
To learn more, visit www.sd-dragonboatrace.com.