Over 400 people made their way down to the Ontario Basin at Salford Quays on Sunday 21st May to watch the annual Salford Dragon Boat Festival hosted by Helly Hansen Watersport Centre.
Starting at 10:30am, 20 teams, all supporting a charity of their choice, registered to race in a series of three-boat heats with each team racing in different lanes and against different opponents culminating in a Grand Final.
Each team had three qualifying races, where their best time only was used for qualification into the Grand Final where the top four teams would compete. The Grand Finale was the only race where all four dragon boats were on the water racing together, making it the most exciting race of the day.
Qualifying teams were dragon boat first timers Dragon Me Under (fourth), Y Club (third), TalkTalk Revolution (second) and Rowbocops (first). Third fastest qualifying team Y Club were back with vengeance after getting knocked out by mere seconds last year.
Team captains made their way over to Race Control where a draw for lanes was made. Rowbocops in lane one, TalkTalk Revolution in lane two, Dragon Me Under in lane three and Y Club in lane four.
As the dragon boats, equipped with bongo drums, were placed in the water, the strong crowd that had remained committed to the event throughout the day created an air of excitement as the race culminated.
A frantic race saw TalkTalk Revolution initially take the lead off the starting line, keeping up the pace just behind them was both Rowbocops and Dragon Me Under, followed by Y Club. Very soon though, Rowbocops gained pace and by the race mid point had gained a half boat’s advantage. Here it became apparent a battle was on between both TalkTalk Revolution and Dragon Me Under for second place as Y Club moved into fourth place.
The finish line saw Rowbocops cross first with a fastest time of 0.50.27 and at an almost complete boat length’s advantage over second place Dragon Me Under, followed by TalkTalk Revolution with a time of 0.54.00 just slightly ahead of Y Club who crossed the line at 0.54.39. All four teams beat their personal best from the qualifying heats.
After winning the race Rowbocops team leader Ben Coombs said, “a couple of months back we heard about the dragon boat race so entered it as we felt it was a fun way to raise some money for a charity close to our hearts, we already had a few keen rowers in our team. We set a target or raising £2,000 for the Ronald McDonald House charity and I’m very pleased to say we have exceeded that target. Winning here today really has just been the icing on the cake.”
Charities that were represented at the race included Ambitious about Autism, St Ann’s Hospice, Barnabus and Cancer Research UK.
By Kathryn Evans