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
Enthusiastic paddlers practice on a morning training session.