For the past few weeks, local 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, draws thousands of spectators to Stanley and Aberdeen to watch the teams of suits, mums, fishermen and athletes battling it out for glory, a trophy and a roast pig.
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 Southside.
Races to look for:
SunLife Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships
Organised by the Stanley Dragon Boat Association, these races are the largest in the territory with a party atmosphere and about 30,000 spectators. Held at Stanley Main Beach, 8am-6pm, more than 240 teams take part in men’s, women’s and mixed races. Get there early and expect huge bus queues. Free admission.
Aberdeen Dragon Boat Races
Marginally less manic, the Aberdeen races have attracted large crowds since the 1950s. About 65 teams are expected to participate and there will be food and drinks available on the waterfront for spectators. Aberdeen Promenade, Aberdeen Praya Road, 8.30am-4pm.
Hong Kong International Dragonboat Races
For those who can’t get enough of the dragonboat 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
Clubs to join:
BGC Stormy Dragons
A strong dragonboat club with an undefeated women’s team, plus men’s and mixed teams, that trains on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Tai Tam Tuk. Welcomes beginners and experienced paddlers. Details at email@example.com, www.stormydragons.com.hk.
Fair Dinkum Club
A friendly club with mixed, men’s and women’s teams that trains in Stanley on Sundays. Details at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.fairdinkumclub.com.
Set up in 1999, Seagods has two successful mixed teams and a philosophy of “minimum politics, maximum fun”. Training takes place on Saturdays, 5pm, from January to June at Stanley Main Beach and new members are welcome, including beginners. Details at www.seagods.hk.
Loreley Dragonboat Team
A fun mixed team led by German expats but with training in English on Thursday and Sunday in Stanley from March to the end of June, followed by drinks at the Boathouse. Try-outs are held before the season. Details at www.loreley-dragonboat.com.
Victoria Recreation Club
This long-established Southside rowing club has men’s, women’s and mixed teams and trains throughout the week in Deep Water Bay, with sessions on the water followed by drinks. Details at 2812 2565, www.victoriarecreationclub.com.hk.