Oars of excitement for Sydney’s dragon boat races

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The biggest dragon boat races in the southern hemisphere will take over Darling Harbour this weekend to mark the finale of Sydney’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

The annual Chinese New Year Dragon Boat Races will see thousands of paddlers from across Australia go oar to oar in 12-metre long vessels, battling it out to the beating of drums as crowds of supporters line the water’s edge to cheer them on.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the races were a fantastic opportunity for Sydneysiders and visitors to enjoy a special Chinese tradition at one of Sydney’s most iconic locations.

'From charity-sponsored community groups to competitive sports teams, people of all ages and experience levels are expected to compete in this spectacular event,' the Lord Mayor said.

'We invite everyone to join in the excitement and cheer on the paddlers as they power our Chinese New Year celebrations to the finish line for another year.'

The action will begin on Saturday morning with the blessing of the waters and eye-dotting ceremony, a Taoist ritual that prepares both the water and wooden boats for the competition ahead.

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Roving entertainers will add to the atmosphere, along with a colourful carousel to help crowds celebrate the Year of the Horse, children’s origami activities and a traditional dragon boat on shore for all to try.

The first dragon boat races were held more than 2000 years ago to commemorate Qu Yuan, the great warrior poet who drowned in the river Miluo as a protest against political corruption. Since then, dragon boat racing has become a major part of Chinese culture, representing patriotism and group integrity. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia.
Dragon boats are 12 metres long and are large enough to seat up to 20 paddlers. Each boat has an ornately carved dragon’s head at the boat and a tail at the stern, while the hull is painted with dragon scales and the paddles represent the claws.

Chinese New Year Dragon Boat Races
Date: Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 February
Time: 8am-5pm (Saturday) and 9am-3pm (Sunday)
Where: Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour

More at www.sydneychinesenewyear.com