HONG KONG, China — Boat racing has been a popular festive event in celebrating the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong.
However, as large-scale gatherings were still risky in Hong Kong due to the lingering COVID-19 epidemic, a mini boat race on land was held Sunday with people enjoying the festival in a safer but no less joyful way.
Rowers holding wooden sticks, instead of paddles, tried hard to move their special land boats as fast as they could on a street of Square Mile, a shopping and entertainment area in West Kowloon.
A dragon boat is normally long and narrow, with its prow carved as a dragon’s head and the stern like a tail. There could be dozens of participants for each boat, including rowers, drummers and steerers.
But the racing boat used this time was much smaller, 5.6 m long and 0.9 m wide, and could only carry four people on board. Four wheels were installed onto bottom of the boat to make it move on land.
In the four-round games, 12 teams first competed for speed and then rowed a tug of war to decide the champion.
“This is our first time to participate in the land dragon boat race, so we are a little nervous. It’s quite different from racing on the water … we have to row harder and find the right rhythm,” said a champion team member surnamed Cheung, who joined the sport five years ago.
The boat race on land allowed celebrations for the traditional festival amid the coronavirus epidemic and reminded people to carry on the teamwork spirit, he said.
The event was organized by the Square Mile Association and the Hong Kong China Dragon Boat Association.
The Dragon Boat Festival is a day to remember the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan and falls on Monday this year. In addition to dragon boat races, people also enjoy the festive food Zongzi, a kind of glutinous rice dumpling cooked wrapped in bamboo leaves.