By Brad Andrews
Dragon boat racing returned to Pensacola on September 12th during the second annual Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival. This year’s event saw 21 teams representing various businesses and clubs gather to compete for pride and to help raise money for the Gulf Coast Kid’s House.
Dragon boats are 40 foot long canoe shaped boats that are propelled by a team of 20 paddlers. The paddlers are guided by a drummer that beats out a stroke cadence and the boat is steered by an oar controlled by a steersperson or sweep. Top international teams can move their vessels along at nearly 11 miles an hour.
The Pensacola festival saw teams compete in a series of three boat races over a distance of 300 meters or approximately 1,000 feet. Gulf Power’s Transform-Oars won the overall competition with minor division and best stroke awards giving out as well.
Between races, numerous vendors and nonprofit organizations were present to sell food, souvenirs, and increase awareness of their organizations. Commentary and recorded music was provided by a local radio station and live music was performed as well.
The organizers of the event hope to increase awareness of the sport and promote its growth in the Pensacola area. Their plans are to have over 70 teams and 10,000 spectators attend the event within three years. For more information on participating in the 2016 event, interested individuals can go to http://pensacoladragonboatfestival.com