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9 Jun 2014

35th Penang Dragon Boat @ Teluk Bahang Dam, Penang 2014 Part 1

Penang [檳城] • 9 JUNE 2014
This was our first visit to attend a Dragon Boat Race in Teluk Bahang Dam, Penang, Malaysia. The race was held on the 7th-8th June 2014 from 9am-5pm. We were there on Saturday morning around 10am. The weather was beautiful as you can see the pictures below.

Dragon Boat is powered by human rowers. Traditionally made in the Pearl River Delta region of China's southern Guangdong Province out of teak wood to different designs and sizes. In other parts of the country, different kinds of wood are used to build these traditional watercraft.

Falling on the 5th day of the 5th month according to Chinese lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Festival is one of great significance. It has been held annually for more than 2,000 years and is notable for its educational influence. The festival commemorates the patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), and also acts as a chance for Chinese people to build their bodies and dispel diseases. Many legends circulate around the festival but the most popular is the legend of Qu Yuan.

Qu YuanAs a minister in the State of Chu - one of the seven warring states before Qin (221BC - 206BC) in China's first feudal dynasty - Qu Yuan supported the decision to fight against the powerful State of Qin (one of the seven states during the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC)) together with the State of Qi (ibid). However he was slandered by the aristocrat Zi Lan and was subsequently exiled by the King. In order to show his love and passion for his country, he wrote many enduring poems such as Li Sao (The Lament), Tian Wen (Asking Questions to the Heaven) and Jiu Ge (Nine Songs) and is therefore regarded as a famous poet in China's history. In 278 BC, after finishing his last masterpiece - Huai Sha (Embracing the Sand), he drowned himself in the river rather than see his country occupied and conquered by the State of Qin.

On hearing of Qu Yuan's death, all the local people nearby were in great distress. Fishermen searched for his body by sailing their boats down the river and other people threw food such as eggs and food like zongzi into the river to attract fish and other animals from destroying Qu Yuan's body. Later, many people imitated these acts to show their respect for this great patriotic poet and this practice continues today.

Because Qu Yuan died on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people decided to commemorate him on that day every year. Dragon boat racing and eating zongzi have become the central customs of the festival. For two thousand years, Qu Yuan's patriotic spirit has influenced numerous people and he remains revered by the people from all over the world.

Eating Zongzi (pyramid-shaped glutinous rice wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves):
Most Chinese festivals include the eating of a particular food among their customs and the Dragon Boat Festival is no exception. Zongzi is the special food eaten here. Made with sticky rice, it has different shapes and various fillings. In the north part of the country, people favor the jujube as filling, while the south sweetened bean paste, fresh meat, or egg yolk. Many families make zongzi by themselves. When making it, soaking the glutinous rice, washing the reed or bamboo leaves and wrapping zongzi with leaves are the most important parts. Today, this custom prevails in China and other countries.

The Competition Divisions, Racing and Competition Classes (200m & 500m) that will be contested are listed below:
1) Malaysia Premier Open (22 Racers) ~ *for Malaysian crews only
2) International Premier Open (22 Racers)
3) International Premier Women (12 Racers)
4) International Premier Mixed (12 Racers)
5) International Senior 40 Open (12 Racers)
6) International Senior 40 Mixed (12 Racers)
7) International Junior U23 Open (12 Racers)
8) International Junior U23 Mixed (12 Racers) – 200 m only
9) Cancer Awareness Race – 200 m only (Invitation Race)

Premier – the primary class of racing.  There are no restrictions on competitor’s age.  Open to all crews.
Senior 40 – Aged 40 years and above (born on or before year 1974); with the exception of the drummer.
Junior Under 23 – Aged 12 years but under 23 years (born between year 1992 and 2002); with the exception of the steerer (helm).
Racing Class
Open – no restriction on crew composition (gender)
Women – for female crews only including the Drummer and Steerer
Mixed – 12 Racers : minimum of four (4) and maximum of six (6) female paddlers
200 & 500 meters straight course
Racing Style – seated
Boat – Standard boat only
No. of Competitors : 22 Racers - Maximum 26 competitors
18 to 20 paddlers
1 drummer
1 steerer
4 reserves
12 Racers - Maximum 14 competitors
8 to 10 paddlers
1 drummer
1 steerer
2 reserves

Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese tradition and one that is growing in popularity. We have a fantastic day enjoying the festival. More pictures will be uploaded soon. 


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