For the past few weeks, Sai Kung’s waters have been buzzing with dragonboats day and night as the teams get out on the water ahead of their big day on June 20. Dragonboat Festival, or Tuen Ng, was voted “Best Annual Event” in our 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards and it’s easy to see why, with thousands of spectators crowding the waterfront to watch teams battling it out for glory, a trophy and a roast pig. Last year saw 2,800 paddlers from 180 teams take part in 35 races, followed by a stonking after-party that went on most of the afternoon.
The best way to enjoy the festival is to take part. Joining a dragonboat team is not only a fast route to a toast-rack tummy – paddling is a top workout for core muscles – but it’s a fun way to meet new people, followed by chucking down a few cold beverages on a hot summer’s day. Some companies organise their own teams, or join one of the teams that train in and around Sai Kung.
The races to look for:
Sai Kung Dragonboat Races
Held near the original pier off Sai Kung waterfront promenade, the dragonboat races take place in the morning from 8am to about 1.30pm, with the after-party and festivities continuing until 5pm.
Sha Tin Dragonboat Races
Colourful boats take part in about 23 races along the Shing Mun River, 8.30am-1pm.
Hong Kong International Dragonboat Races
For those who can’t get enough of the “yat-yee” action. Winning local teams from the Tuen Ng festival and international teams take to Victoria Harbour in a three- day event on July 3-5. East Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, free admission.
Blue Sky Water Sports Club
Blue Sky trains all year and runs men’s, women’s and mixed teams, plus a youth training programme. Training takes place Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays at Sha Ha Beach. Details at 2791 0806, www.bluesky-sc.com.Blazing Paddles
A ladies-only team comprising mainly Sai Kung mums that regularly takes the competition by surprise. Their secret? The team is coached
by Hong Kong national coach, Sammy Hun. Details from Annabel Adams, 9136 0138, email@example.com.
A mixed team of Hong Kong Academy staff, parents and friends that trains regularly in Sai Kung and welcomes all paddlers, with no tryouts needed. Contact Karin Maddox at hkadragonflies.weebly.com.
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Association
A large association that organises competitions, rents dragonboats and organises training sessions in Cantonese and English in Sha Tin. Details at 2646 2147, www.hkdba.com.hk.
Way Young Dragon Boat Club
A non-profit sporting organisation with a women’s and men’s team that trains in Pak Sha Wan. Details at 2566 9988, www.wayyoungdragon.com.