A record ten international teams entered the recently concluded 10th Boracay International Dragonboat Festival held last weekend on the island of Boracay in Aklan.
Organized by the Boracay Island Paddlers Asspciation (BIPA), the event also attracted tens of thousands of sectators to the island.
“Through the years, the Boracay dragonboat races have gained a name for themselves to be the event to attend among the dragonboat community worldwide,” said Gigi Piit of BIPA. “Hence, the Boracay race is the most well-attended by foreign teams in the Philippines, making it the biggest annual international sports event in the country. Many events in different parts of the Philippines have tried to make their event international, but foreign teams do not participate. It is only in Boracay where they participate with increasing number of paddlers each time.”
Challenging eleven local club teams, delegations came from China (one team), Hong Kong (twp teams), Singapore (four teams), Dubai (one team) and the United States (two teams).
“One of the reasons why the foreign teams multiply is that members of one team talk about their wonderful experience on the island,” explains Tootsie Ronnholm of BIPA. “That gets other people excited to form their own teams and come over. Seeing them enjoy themselves makes all our effort for the past decade worth it.”
Among the Philippine teams that participated were three teams from Metro Manila, two teams from Cebu, one team from Dumaguete and five Boracay teams. Participating squads were all clubs (no professional teams participated), so all teams were more or less of equal strength. In past years, professional paddling teams like the Philippine Army and Marine Fleet joined the competition. This year, the Army team was in the world championships in Australia while the Boracay event was ongoing.
The Boracay event is also the only one of its kind where spectators can beat the summer heat by watching the offshore races while in the water. The 10th BIDBF was supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, Skyjet Airlines, Coca-Cola, Powerade, Jack Daniels, 2GO, and the entire Boracay community.