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Dragon boats will sail during Miami Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Spectators can watch the dragon boats race and enjoy oriental foods at Miami Marine Stadium on Saturday.

BY RODOLFO ROMAN
SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
Dragon boats will race on Biscayne Bay this weekend.
will feature more than 30 teams competing at the Miami Marine Stadium, 3601 Rickenbacker Causeway, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Check-in for racers starts at 8 a.m.
The festival preserves Chinese culture, said Joe Chi, president of Miami Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.
“The Miami Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is a fantastic cultural event that brings us all together for cultural enhancement, community enrichment and solidarity,” he said.
The festival is organized by the nonprofit Miami Overseas Chinese Association. The winning teams will receive special trophies and medals from Hong Kong and China . Corporate teams paid $800, Training was provided.
The dragon boats that will be used will be le crème de la crème, Chi said.
“We have fleets of 6 BUK Dragon boats. BUK Dragon boats are the top of the line in terms of dragon boats,” he said. “Designed in China, made in Germany, and retrofitted in Canada out of high tech carbon fiber.”
Athletes will be paddling between the Miami Rowing Club and the Miami Marine Stadium. Over 25,000 spectators are expected to attend, Chi said. There will be different competitions including the 2000 meters for about 10 minutes. Levels of competition will be based on various skills and difficulty levels.
Michael Chen, founder of the Puff Dragon Boat racing team, has participated in the sport for seven years.
“It is a unique sport,” said Chen, who will be paddling with his team Saturday. “It is a group sport and it is fulfilling.
The Dragon boats used are Hong Kong style, which are 40 feet long, 4 feet wide and carry 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson. Boats usually weigh 500 pounds.
The tradition of dragon boating dates back more than 2,000 years to South China in an effort to honor the dragon and commemorate Qu Yuan, a poet.
Aside from the race, there will be exhibitions, cultural shows, martial arts demonstrations and other performances from China and Japan. Also, food vendors will sell oriental-themed dishes.
“There will be fierce and riveting competition among the many participating dragon boat teams, vying for the honors of winning the races,” Chi said. “In the end, all will share the experience of a 2,500-plus-year dragon boat race that has been fun and rewarding in terms of character, cooperation and team building.”
Go to www.miamidragon.com for more information.

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