With summer officially here, most people seem to be making plans to barricade themselves indoors or fly away to cooler climes. But what if we told you there is a fun and social way to keep cool right here in the city, with the added bonus of getting fit? We’re talking about dragon boat racing. Yes, that ancient sport that dates back more than 2,000 years and involves a team of 20 or so people, paddling in unison in a long, slender boat.
Capital Dragons were founded back in 2008 and are one of Abu Dhabi’s Premier Division Dragon Boat teams. “At the moment we have 25 members from 11 countries,” says team secretary Jim Irwin. The team comprises men and women, from all backgrounds, and also has a ladies-only team, Capital Divas. “We take part in regattas across the UAE and travel to Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah to compete.”
The racing season runs from October to April and Capital Dragons is on the lookout for new members for the year ahead, as the transient nature of the region does take a toll on membership. “We grow and shrink as expats come and leave,” Irwin admits. To help attract more members, the team has decided to hold morning practice sessions this summer.
“There are a lot of people living in the city who are keen to paddle, but not able to leave work in time and, as a team that encourages participants of all ages, backgrounds and fitness levels, it makes sense to broaden our appeal to accommodate potential Dragons by adding earlier practice options,” explains Irwin. Also, morning sessions mean being out when the weather is better. “The water is a nice place to be in the summer as it’s about six to ten degrees cooler.”
The team practices by the breakwater near Marina Mall. A session includes a 20-minute HIIT workout on land followed by around an hour spent in the boat. Those interested are allowed three free try-out sessions before they sign up. The team also meets up socially during the week. “We go for trivia nights, barbecues, camping in the desert. Which reminds me, I need to get planning our iftar get-together!” Irwin laughs. Sign us up.
Dhs1,000 (membership for one full season). For information on membership and practice timings visit www.capitaldragons.weebly.com.