KUCHING: The annual Sarawak International Dragon Boat Race 2019 which has entered its 7th edition started at Kuching Waterfront yesterday.
The two-day race saw the participation of local and international teams from 14 countries.
Locals and tourists thronged the venue to watch the race that was held as part of this year’s Sarawak Regatta.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who officiated at the event, dotted the eyes of the dragon boats to mark the start of the race.
Speaking to reporters after that, Abang Johari congratulated the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports for its success in organising the race.
“There is an increase of participants this year. I was made to understand there are several countries such as United Arab Emirates (UAE) and also United States of America (US) that participate in the race for the first time,” he said.
Earlier on, the chief minister also officiated at the Sarawak Borneo Crafts Festival and the Sarawak Food Festival at the same location.
Race director, Girlie Tan, said the participants in the boat race increased yearly, and it is hoped that the event could be extended a few days more in the future.
“This is considered one of the biggest boat races in Malaysia this year. There are 42 teams with 1,400 participants representing 14 countries,” she said.
She said for the US, UAE, Myanmar, Australia, Singapore and others it is their first time joining in, with the US having the largest contingent.
“Actually, we received a total of 60 teams from other countries that wanted to join. But taking into consideration the limited time, we could only accept 42 teams,” she said.
She said one of the highlights of the race is an all-women team from Putrajaya called “Pink Challenges”. They are cancer survivors.
“I thank the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports and all the sponsors for their support. And I hope the event will grow bigger,” she said.
The participating teams are from Sarawak, Sabah, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Brunei, Thailand, Australia, US, UAE, Taiwan, Myanmar, Philippines and Hong Kong.
The teams will compete in five categories respectively. Among the categories are the international open (20 crew) international open (12 crew), international women mixed (12 crew), international mixed (12 crew) and international master (12 crew for 40 years and above).
The total winning prize for the respective categories is RM39,000.