The exceptional backdrop that is Pigeon Point Heritage Park served as the host with a difference for the 2019 Pan American Club Crew Championships. The event - deemed a major success - was the icing on the cake for local Dragon Boat racing, which has become extremely popular across all ages in T&T, with events ranging from the Excellent Stores Inter School Regatta to San Fernando’s annual Independence Day festival.
With over 1,000 visitors and 41 teams taking part, competition was fierce, espousing the Dragon Boat racing virtues of team work, strength in numbers and perseverance. The crucial support from the likes of Caribbean Airlines and the Tobago House of Assembly emphasized those same qualities, that stakeholders working in cohesion can produce a global standard event.
Concerns about the lack of flat water - a staple for Dragon Boat racing - subsided with the first glimpse of Pigeon Point: well Tobago does have that effect. President of the Pan American Dragon Boat Federation, Franco Siu Chong, said that “This has been an amazing tournament. All the visiting participants loved the facilities, the sun, sand and sea. The boats are exceptional and ideal to navigate Tobago’s waters. They have withstood the conditions”.
Rising to the occasion, Tobago’s very own team, Oceanus, used home advantage to take three golds, four silvers and a bronze medal while the ubiquitous Aquaholics represented Trinidad with a bronze in the open final.
The sport’s infrastructure remains solid, with a full domestic calendar, participation in global events and the considerable advantage of strong high school participation to whet the appetite for competition and make the regattas and festivals true family events. Throw in the considerable support of the private and public sectors and Dragon Boat racing in T&T will continue its growth, with everyone pulling in the same direction.