LEGAZPI CITY: For the second consecutive year, paddlers of the Philippine Marines bagged the championship crown in the 200-meter national dragon boat race off Albay Gulf, as spectators at the Legazpi City Blvd. watched them post their best heat time recently.
On day one of the race, when the three-round elimination race was staged, the Marines recorded an average time of 1 minute 53.83 seconds on the first round, 54.31 seconds on the second round, and 48.8 seconds on the third round.
On day two and final round, the Marines finished at less than a minute with a record of 50.52 seconds.
The Philippine Titans was first runner-up with a speed time of 53.30 seconds while second runner-up Manila Dragons recorded 54.77 seconds during the final round.
There were 10 teams of paddlers from Bohol, Samar, Metro Manila and different parts of the country who joined the race.
Although non-winners, the seven other participating teams were distinguished by the names they bannered –Taytay Mixed, Speed Devilz, Smart DB Team, Ninjas, 1925 team, Philippine Tiger Sharks, and Taytay Halo-halo team.
Each team had a crew of 20 with nine pairs — 10 boys and eight girls — serving as paddlers while another serves as a steersman and the last member tasked to be the signal man.
Mayor Noel E. Rosal and Board Member Alan Rañola handed the trophies with cash to all the winners in the Dragon Boat Race during the awarding ceremony held at the Embarcadero de Legazpi.
Rañola, who also served as chairman of the event, expressed optimism that the city’s boat race would become an international event next year.
He said Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal instructed him to invite paddlers from Southeast Asia to make the dragon boat race “more colorful and exciting”.
Rañola said he will prepare a very good work plan to convince international paddlers to come next year. His plan is to bring to Legazpi about 20 teams from Asia to compete with local paddlers.
T/Sgt Romar Morta, coach of the Philippine Marines team, said all the teams who joined the race were “very strong and difficult to beat but because of our discipline, determination and rigorous daily training, we snatched the championship crown again.”
He said his team, which has been joining competitions in different parts of the country, always manages to get the crown.
The National Dragon Boat race was spearheaded by the city administration in cooperation with the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation.
It is one of the national sports events showcased in the month-long Ibalong Festival, an annual event, now on its 25th edition, that continues to showcase Legazpi City as a major tourist destination.
Embarcadero de Legazpi, where the awarding event of the boat race was done, is a waterfront commercial complex located at the city harbor.
The Legazpi City Blvd., from where spectators viewed the grace, strength and talent of the paddlers in the boat race, is a coastal road network extending from the city’s central business district and port area to the southern villages.
It provides a picturesque view of Mayon Volcano and what is referred to as “Kapuntukan hill” to the north.