14 December 2008
After having had to postpone the event in 2007, when the boats destined for Cyprus went missing in the UK ‘presumed stolen’ – and later found, the first Dragon Boat Races ever to be held in Cyprus finally got underway over the weekend 18/19 October 08, when the 1st Limassol International Races were held as part of Limassol’s annual sports festival.

Crews from Russia (Russian Forwards) and Dubai (Dubai Sea Dragons with paddlers from 6 Countries on board) made the races truly ‘international’ and a British crew from the nearby Royal Air Force base at Akrotiki, added to the international flavour and brought a sense of humour to the event. Five local crews completed the pack, including a very strong crew from the Cyprus Canoe Federation (CCF), to make the racing, held within the breakwater on Limassol’s central seafront, both competitive and very enjoyable.

There was a great relaxed atmosphere throughout the weekend with the International Crews helping the local crews out with additional paddlers and giving them ‘paddling tips’. With everyone mucking in to get the boats ready and loaded for each race, the Event Organiser (Andy Ergonmous) and the three IDBF Officials running the races (Bryan Hartley, Murray Jones and Mike Haslam) were not subjected to the normal stresses of race officiating and had a little time in hand to enjoy the sun, sea and sand and even a beer or two!

The actual races were won by the Russian Forwards with the CCF Spartans pushing them all the way in the finals of the 200m (0.50.26 v 0.53.20) and 500m (2.08.20 v 2.10.10). Dubai Sea Dragons, a mainly Women’s crew (three men) made the final on both days but lost to the girls from the Russian Forwards in the Ladies 200m race.

Next year plans are already being made for a bigger and better event at the same time in October but in a different location. Having established a good working relationship with the CCF - a much appreciated side benefit to the Limassol Races, in which the CCF helped with manpower and equipment, the intention now is to hold a joint international regatta in 2009 for canoes/ kayaks and dragon boats at the Famagusta Nautical Club in Limassol. Of the four IDBF Development Boats (two BuK and two Champion) sent to Cyprus, two are now based at the Natical Club. This kind of co-operation between Canoe and Dragon Boat organisations is the way forward for both sports and can only enhance the reputation and development of both sports in Cyprus.

From DBI News by Mike Haslam


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