Dragon Racing

Published 5:02 pm Thursday, March 30, 2017

LaGRANGE- Need a fun, lively event to attend this summer, then the West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race might be one event you might want to add to your calendar.

The race will take place at Pyne Road Park on Saturday July 15, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.

The Dragon Boat Race is a boat race that is a team paddling watersport. There are usually 20 teams that participate in the race that includes a Hong Kong style, 46-footlong dragon boat holding 20 paddlers in it. There is also a drummer who sits at the top of the boat and leads the paddlers through the race by beating on the drum to create rhythm and synchronicity as the paddlers paddle. The race is supposed to be a quarter of a mile long and will be across West Point Lake.

The event is a fundraiser for Harmony House, a State of Georgia certified shelter that serves victims of domestic violence twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week by providing emergency shelter, crisis intervention and advocacy for victims of domestic violence.

While the Dragon Boat Race serves as a fundraiser opportunity for Harmony House and a family event that will include music, activities for children, games, food vendors and picnics, it also is a competitive sprint event that can be very intense and rigorous for those partaking in it.

“The best advice I could give to a team is that you have to work together,” said Michele Bedingfield, the Executive Director of Harmony House. “If your paddling in different directions or if you’re not paddling together, then you won’t reach your goal quickly. For teams such as churches, businesses or groups, this is a great team building exercise. It encourages you to work together to win.”

Dragon boat racing is the 8th fastest growing sport in the world with more than 50 million people in 63 countries participating each year.

Last year was the inaugural boat race and there were 2,500 people who came out to watch and participate, which Bedingfield said “far exceeded anything I could have imagined.”

The Dragon Boat Race was presented by Mike Patton Auto Family and all proceeds benefited Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter. Twenty local companies, clubs, agencies and groups of friends came together to sponsor race teams. There were many others within the Troup County community that supported the race by sponsoring, donating, and attending the event.

“It is opened to anyone from businesses big or small to a group of friends who want to have a team in it,” said Bedingfield, who mentioned that the number of teams joining the race will increase from 20 to 30 teams this year. “We are expecting more spectators and more people involved this year and we just can’t wait.”

Something knew that is being incorporated into the event is participants will have a chance to do a $1 vote for their favorite team, favorite drummer and the best team name.

“What we’re going to do different is have an award called ‘Spirit of the Dragon’ which is for the best overall team and that will be voted on by judges,” said Bedingfield. “In addition to winning first, second and third place, there will be five other awards that teams can win as well.”

Bedingfield said that there has already been more than half of the 30 scheduled teams that have registered so far. The registration deadline is Monday April 3 and the date to pay all fees for a boat will be due on Monday May 1.


Shirttail- Reach James Simpson II at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155, or by email at james.simpson@lagrangenews.com