This is the "Mother of all Dragon Boat Race Events" in Singapore.
The Singapore River Regatta is it. Usually held in November, it is considered by many paddlers the biggest and most important event of the year. This is the one, every team want's to get a medal at.
The setting is great, with team tents being put up right at the marble stairs of the big banks at Boat Quay, booths of equipment vendors and food suppliers squeezed in between and paddlers in team outfits as far as the eye can see.
SDBA organizes this big event in 2013 for the 31st time to make this sprint race yet another success. The current dates for the 2013 Regatta are the 9th and 10th November 2013 and the Singapore River at Boat Quay is still the fabulous venue! Paddlers and spectators alike just love it over there.
There has been speculation and even changes to the number and positioning of race lanes as the impression remains with some that boats in a certain lane do better on average than others. Be that as it may, spectators get a close up view of all heats and runs, no matter which side of Boat Quay they take position at.
Training for the Regatta is as serious as the competition is fierce. There is a lot at stake. A gold medal or cup trophy won at the Regatta injects pride into the winning team for a whole season and respect by the other teams, too. Winning even has an effect on a possible recruitment drive. Potential newbies kind of sign up even easier with a champion, no wonder.
The first day of the Regatta is largely spent with qualifying heats for the various categories. You can tell by some deserted team tents the second day, who made it to the next round or semi-finals and who didn't. Make no mistake though, making it to the semi-finals at the Regatta is already a solid achievement!
Once the racing is over and new champions have been made, this part of Boat Quay turns into a spontaneous party. Teams get their sponsor's beer supplies out, there is joyful singing and dancing and congratulating the competitors - sportsmanship and the spirit of fairness and friendship all around. "United paddlers of Singapore" kind of feel. Latest by then even non-paddlers want to be part of it.