Dragon boat rac­ing has an il­lus­tri­ous his­tory, dat­ing back a thou­sand years. From Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val (端午節) cel­e­bra­tions to in­ter­na­tional dragon boat races, to­day, dragon boat rac­ing is not only a proud part of Chi­nese cul­ture but also an in­creas­ingly in­ter­na­tional sport.

In­ter­na­tional Tai­wan Storm

As dragon boat rac­ing has a long his­tory, re­cently, it has be­come popular with many peo­ple from around the world. It is there­fore lit­tle won­der that many for­eign­ers who come to Tai­wan for work or study have also gained an in­ter­est in dragon boat rac­ing.

One such dragon boat rac­ing am­a­teur is Mari­celli Florita, a Belizean English teacher who has taught in Tai­wan for three years. At an event in Taipei, she met one of the dragon boat pad­dlers from the Tai­wan Storm (台灣風暴) team, inspiring her to join up.

Florita be­lieves that dragon boat train­ing re­quires self- dis­ci­pline and per­se­ver­ance as shown by the team’s in­tense train­ing sched­ule. For in­stance, the team mem­bers need to wake up at six in the morn­ing for team prac­tice then rush to work at around eight or nine. “I de­cided to join the team but we have to wake up while other peo­ple are still in their cozy beds or de­vote our leisure time af­ter work,” she said.

The Tai­wan Storm team was formed in 2015. Some of its mem­bers have im­pres­sive ex­pe­ri­ences in sports such as triathlons and long-dis­tance run­ning. The team was formed by Michael Feng (馮毓倫), who comes from a fam­ily that has more than 100 years of dragon boat rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

As a re­sult of his fam­ily her­itage, Feng started dragon boat rac­ing at 19 and by now has more than 18 years of dragon boat rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. He fully ap­pre­ci­ates the re­sources and lessons he learned from his dragon boat rac­ing in­struc­tor. Fur­ther­more, he wishes to use his pas­sion to re­cruit more mem­bers and pass down this as­pect of Chi­nese cul­ture.

“Dragon boat row­ing is fun, we will in­spire who­ever comes to join Tai­wan Storm,” in­struc­tor Feng pointed out. “The most im­por­tant things be­fore train­ing are be­ing mo­ti­vated and op­ti­mistic, which can lead the team to­ward a great path of learn­ing,” he added.

Prac­tice Makes Per­fect

For train­ing, the dragon boat in­struc­tor cre­ates a rig­or­ous train­ing plan ev­ery morn­ing since many of the pad­dlers on the team are am­a­teurs. In two rows, they be­gan their train­ing by pad­dling 1,000 strokes three times a week. Now they can do 3,000 strokes per round. As the com­pe­ti­tion nears, they train in the real dragon boat in Bi­tan ev­ery morn­ing.

Even though the train­ing has in­ten­si­fied, the mem­bers have dif­fer­ent opin­ions. One of the team’s am­a­teur pad­dlers is Ellen Lu (盧詩萍), who works as an as­so­ciate prod­uct manager at Ya­hoo. “Con­stantly do­ing dragon boat prac­tice ev­ery morn­ing helps ease the pres­sure that comes from my work,” said Lu.

An­other am­a­teur pad­dler is Chen Cheng Han (陳正翰), who works at TVBS. Chen, who as a re­porter of­ten worked on dragon boat races, de­cided to chal­lenge him­self this year and make it his goal to join a race as a pad­dler. “I think there are some sports that you might not be able to do when you are old so I want to try it out while I am still young.” Us­ing his ex­per­tise work­ing at TVBS, Chen posts videos of Tai­wan Storm on Face­book, shar­ing his love for dragon boat rac­ing with ev­ery­one.

The Dragon Boat race will un­fold this Fri­day at Da­jia River­side Park (大佳河濱公園) and this Satur­day at Wei Feng

Canal (微風運河水域).

Cour­tesy of Wang Chien-yu

En­thu­si­as­tic pad­dlers prac­tice on a morn­ing train­ing ses­sion.

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