Thursday, July 21, 2011


      The annual race is held to promote tourism in West Sumatra, a province blessed with rich traditional culture and beautiful panorama such as stunning diving spots, canyons, and valleys.
       "The festival is intended to increase both domestic and tourist visits to Padang, West Sumatra," Firdaus Ilyas, the head of the city`s education, youth and sports affairs office, said in Padang recently.
      The event is officially called "Padang International Dragon Boat Festival 2011".
      The organizing committee had invited Hong Kong, Taipei, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines to participate in the dragon boat race, but only Malaysia met the invitation.
      There were several factors that have caused several countries to cancel their participation in the race, according to Deno Indra Firmansyah, the chairman of the race`s organizing committee.
       Plane airfare hikes because of the upcoming Muslim Holiday of Ramadan discouraged potential participants to come to Indonesia, Deno said in Padang on Thursday (July 21).
      Besides, there were also other similar events being organized overseas at almost the same time with the dragon boat race in Padang, he said.

Another factor that made the race having less foreign participants was the fact that the race schedule had been changed from August earlier to July, due to Ramadan which will begin early August this year.

Deno, however, was optimistic that although Malaysia is the only foreign participant, the race would remain prestigious and interesting.

West Sumatra`s teams in the race come from the districts of Agam, Pesisir Selatan, Damasraya, and Padang city. Other teams to participate in the race come from Lubuk Linggau (South Sumatra), Bengkalis (Riau), Tebo (Jambi), Timika (Papua), East Kalimantan, and Aceh.

Military teams which take part in the contest, among other things are from Medan (North Sumatra), Tanjung Pinang, Surabaya (East Java), Jakarta, and Padang (W Sumatra), he said.

Malaysia represented by its Royal Malaysian Police and Selangor State, sends four teams to the dragon boat race to compete in four categories, namely 22 men`s crew, 12 men`s crew, 22 women`s crew, and 22 mixed crew.

The participants consisting of a total of 42 teams and 23 clubs, are competing for a challenge cup, medals and cash amounting to Rp150 million. The race fields a total of eight categories covering a distance of 8,000 meters.

On the competition`s first day, four categories were, namely inter-military unit 22 men`s crew, 22 men`s crew open, 22 women`s crew, and 12 women`s crew, Eri Berlian, the chairperson of the race`s competition section said in Padang on Thursday (July 21).

In the inter-military unit 22 men`s crew, the participants were from the Indonesian Navy`s Western Fleet, the West Sumatra Police`s Mobile Brigade, Dolphin Jakarta, and the West Sumatra Police`s Water Police.

In the 22 men`s crew open, the participants were from the Indonesian Rowing Association (Podsi) of Agam District, Podsi Riau, Yonif 133, and the Tasik Rowing Club.

Three teams participated in the women`s 22 crew number, namely state junior high school SMP 31 Padang, Podsi Riau and Podsi Bengkalis.

In the women`s 12 crew category, the participants were from I The Navy`s Belawan main base in Medan, Podsi Papua Barat, Podsi Sumbar and the Malaysian police.

A medical team consisting of 20 doctors and two ambulances were made ready for emergency help.

"We hope that this dragon race could become a momentum to revive the tourism in West Sumatra after the devastating earthquake which hit the province on September 30, 2009," Deno said.

In 2010, the Padang dragon boat race was participated in by four countries, namely the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Cambodia. In 2009, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macao, the Philippines and Hong Kong had joined the race.

Indonesia, a maritime country with over 70 of its geographical territories are waters, has recorded quite encouraging achievements in dragon boat races domestically and internationally so far.

In the 16th Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China in 2010, Indonesia won three gold medals in the dragon boat races, respectively in the men`s 1,000-m, men`s 500-m and men`s 250-m events. The Indonesian women`s teams bagged silver medals in three categories of the women`s dragon boat races.

Based on historical records, dragon boat races first came into being 2500 years ago when people believed that boat races were able to lead to agricultural fertility and prosperity.

Indonesia has often sent teams to participate in international dragon race events overseas such as in the International Dragon Boat Race in Hungary in August 2010, and the Korean Open Busan International Dragon Boat Regatta in South Korea, in September 2010, where Indonesia`s teams grabbed four gold medals. ***6***


(T.F001/A/F001/A/H-YH) 21-07-2011 23:19:49

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