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Olympic challenge awaits Chippenham Dragon Boat racers
AN OLYMPIC challenge lies ahead of the competitors for this year’s Dragon Boat Race, organised by the Rotary Club of Chippenham.
Teams taking part in the event will become eligible to enter the first UK Charity Dragon Boat finals on October 7, taking on the same stretch of river in Windsor that Olympic and Paralympic athletes are set to row during the London games.
The Eton College Rowing Centre in Dorney Lake, Windsor is the venue for this year’s Olympic rowing events.
The Jubilee Chippenham Dragon Boat Race is on July 14, on the River Avon in Monkton Park, Chippenham.
Organiser Graham Stow said: “We currently have seven teams booked in, about par for this time of year.
“However, there’s a lot of interest in the event and we’re confident final bookings will exceed the 17 teams that took part last year and make this a record year. The boats are all provided and experience isn’t necessary as training is given too.”
The Rotary club is even laying on an Olympic style team tent village, with tents for each team competing.
Dragon boat racing involves teams of 17 – 16 paddlers and one drummer – rowing 40-foot boats sporting a dragon’s head and tail in a series of sprint heats. These culminate in a grand final between the fastest boats.
Mr Stow said: “This is a unique opportunity for ordinary Chippenham people to take part in a national championship of a sport which is gaining international credibility, in front of what is hoped will be a 15,000 strong crowd of participants and spectators, and at an Olympic standard venue that will still be reverberating to the recent exploits of world famous athletes in the mould of Sir Steve Redgrave.”
There will be 60 dragon boat race events around the country this year acting as a feeder providing teams for the UK finals, and the competitions were given the Royal seal of approval when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took part in a race on a visit to Canada last year.
Seventy five per cent of the funds raised by a team will benefit the charity or community group chosen by the team captain, with the balance for Rotary charities.
Last year the event raised over £12,000 for more than 20 charities and community groups. Visit www.rotary-chippenham-wv.org.uk/dbr or call (01249) 656172.