Dragon Boat races rock at River Dunes

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In Saturday morning’s parade, cancer survivor teams Dragons with a Cause from Oriental and . . .

. . . Fight Like Mad from Charleston, exude emotion and proved to be crowd favorites.

RIVER DUNES – By any measure, spectators and paddlers enjoyed many competitive races during the Eighth Annual Oriental Dragon Boat Festival, though by late Saturday afternoon everyone left the grounds of River Dunes thoroughly wet and muddy.

At 11 am Saturday – just prior to the fifth race – organizers called a halt to all on-the-water activities. Out of deference to lightning and thunder, everyone hunkered down, with many stealing an early lunch from one or more of four busy food vendors.

Fortunately, after 35 minutes, the bad weather subsided, and races continued, albeit under dark, cloudy skies.


Then, around 2:30 pm, with a quartet of teams on the water and bound for the starting line of the 300-meter course, an unexpected wind shear hit. A few minutes of brisk winds toppled tents, and an attendant downpour literally drenched the four teams of the Community Division: Pamlico Community College; Warp Speed of Colonial Capital Humane Society; River Dunes; and Fossil Floaters of PotashCorp-Aurora.

Spectators and other paddlers sought refuge under tents that were secure, but the term ‘drench’ is probably an inadequate description. The 80-plus paddlers — spread out across four of the long, skinny Dragon Boats in the open waters of Grace Harbor at magnificent River Dunes – were pummeled with rain.


But neither high winds, rain, nor lousy conditions could deter these participants from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

The paddlers of the Community Division were bound and determined to race, in what later proved to be the closest contest of the day. And what an exciting finish! River Dunes, the day’s host team and undefeated up to that point, lost in a nail-biter by just four 100ths of a second – to Fossil Floaters, a team that always seems to rally in the last race of the day, earning that squad the well-deserved nickname of ‘Comeback Kids!’

Fight like mad team for Madeline.

Neuse Winds Freedom Riders.

Oriental dragon opens parade.

Dragons wait out the storm.

River dunes dragons.