Dragonboat: Regatta draws record participation

Ronald Ng and Jolynn Wong will captain the DBS Asia Dragons men's and women's teams at the DBS Marina Regatta in June.
Ronald Ng and Jolynn Wong will captain the DBS Asia Dragons men's and women's teams at the DBS Marina Regatta in June.PHOTO: DBS

Asia's highest cash prize for a dragon boat race is up for grabs at this year's DBS Marina Regatta.

Held at Marina Bay from June 1 to 4, the regatta's highlight is the international dragon boat competition, organised in partnership with the Singapore Dragon Boat Association (SDBA).

An estimated 90 teams and more than 3,000 athletes will compete across three categories - Premier, Corporate, and Prime - for cash prizes totalling $134,000.

The competition with the next highest prize in Asia was last year's Shanghai International Chinese Dragon Boat Invitation Tournament, which had a total prize purse of 208,000 yuan (S$42,100).

Raizal Abdol Jalil, general manager of the SBDA, believes the prize money has helped boost the competition's popularity.

He said: "The cash prize is a major draw factor. We are seeing an increasing number of teams coming from abroad to compete."

The number of athletes is also a 50 per cent jump from its previous high of 2,000 in the 2012 Regatta.

Dr Chia Shi-Lu, president of the SDBA, said the dragon boating community's growth in the region has been immensely gratifying.

To cater to the growth in participation numbers, this year's regatta will introduce the Prime category for those aged 40 and above.

"We want to make dragon boating a lot more inclusive. We want to engage people who won't exactly be training six days a week, but are sporty and interested in dragon boating," explained Karen Ngui, head of DBS Group's strategic marketing and communications.

One of the perennial highlights of the regatta - now into its sixth edition - is the hotly-contested Corporate category.

Participating teams, such as the DBS Asia Dragons, the defending champions of the DBS Corporate Women category, have been training hard for the coming race.

Said captain Jolynn Wong: "My team, made up of full-time keyboard warriors, train five to six days a week. It's stressful to be defending champions, but we are excited to face off against other teams, such as those from Hong Kong, China and Australia."

The public can also try dragon boating during a Dragon Boat Orientation Programme on June 1.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2017, with the headline 'Regatta draws record participation'. Print Edition | Subscribe