Monday, 26 February 2018

Dragon boats on Darling Harbour

I was walking through Darling Harbour on Saturday and saw dragon boats lined up on the water with full crews. Each boat has a drummer sitting in the bow on a chair, 10 paddlers, and one sweep handling an oar in the water to steer the boat with. I talked to some of the people sitting and standing around near the marquees that have been set up by the City of Sydney, which organised the races, for lunar new year. Of the five people I spoke with for this story, four were aged in their twenties and were of Asian ancestry, but they all spoke without an accent so they must have been at least second generation Australian. Four were men. One man, an older Anglo gent with a moustache and goatee, had come to Sydney for the event from Nowra on the southern NSW coast.

The public address system announced crews from the Illawarra and from Pittwater, on the southern and northern extremities of the city respectively. I asked the people dressed in their team colours where the boats had been put in the water because I was curious about the logistics of the undertaking, but it turns out that the boats used in the races, which were 200-metre sprints, were all kept normally at the Blackwattle Bay Dragon Boat Club, around the point to the west in Pyrmont. On the day, different crews used the same limited fleet of boats on rotation. There were 150 crews competing in 60 races and crews had come from as far away as the Central Coast and Orange. I took this photo when I was out on the way to have some Indian food for lunch.

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