A crowd in excess of 12,000 people eagerly came to Robert's Park in Saltaire on Saturday 23rd June 2018 to watch and be part of, the famous City of Bradford's annual Dragon Boat Festival. With the very successful youth event the day before, a further thirty eight teams excitedly gathered ready to compete in day two of the annual Bradford Dragon Boat Festival: "The Lord Mayor's Appeal Championship". With up to twenty people in each team all fund raising for the Lord Mayor two charities, funds from this event all went to the Bradford Lord Mayor's Appeal, which this year were the Down Syndrome Training and Support Services and the Wishing Well Appeal.
The Bradford Dragon Boat Festival although just four year's old, is already the UK's largest dragon boat festival and in order to facilitate the team numbers, a temporary marina capable of handling all six dragon boats had to be build across the entire width of the River Aire.
Race The Dragon also organised the delivery and installation of all the festival marquees as well as assisting in behind the scenes organisation and in providing technical expertise. The organiser's of the Bradford Dragon Boat Festival would also like to thank Race The Dragon Ltd. for generously providing the team entry fees for festival sponsor's: The Black-Hearts team from 4 Infantry Brigade and also festival sponsor's T&A Newscruise from Telegraph and Argus.
The event was officially opened by the 2017-2018 Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Abid Hussain, after which the first teams were called up for their safety briefing before their first race.
Along with best paddle technique, the safety briefings also include how to stop the boat capsizing as well as what to do in the event of a capsize (fortunately, a rare occurrence). Race The Dragon safety wristbands were then issued to every team member after each briefing, which then allowed them access to the waterside of the event and the dragon boats.
With the start of the race just outside the viewing area in Robers Park, BIG Screen TV's were organised in various parts of the park so that camera footage could be shown to the crowds in the park and those waiting along the river bank.
Event sponsors included Pulse Radio, who posted this great footage last year from across the river in 2017 that really shows just how large the whole festival site was
Along with the dragon boat racing, the festival included many other displays and attractions, from an inflatable assault course from the Army, where members of the public were invited to have a go on an Army assault course through to through to children's rides and a fun fair.
There were ethnic and international food vendors each serving their diverse range of wonderful foods, bar outlets, market stalls and a whole host of traders, some of which had traveled in from overseas just to be at this festival.
The multi cultural ethos that is so Bradford was further enhanced by a brass band on the upper level (well, it is Yorkshire after all) and in Roberts Park, a big stage was organised where live acts from up and coming local bands were able to entertain the crowd throughout the daty.
The Bradford Dragon Boat Festival is the UK's first ever three-day dragon boat festival and is already the largest event of it's kind in the UK today. Designed as a free to spectate festival, the event is organised by the community of Bradford for the community of Bradford.
Next year's date has now been set for the 21st, 22nd and 23rd June 2019 (registration details soon to open), with all dragon boat racing once again being provided by the UK's leading provider of dragon boat events, Race The Dragon Ltd.
How does it work?
A dragon boat team is made up of up to 20 team members, where a maximum 16 paddlers and a drummer will be allowed to compete in any one race. The extra members are because each team will have several races during the day.
Racing is over a precisely measured course of 200 meters with the start just beyond the cricket pavilion and the finish in front on the crowds in Roberts Park. Each team had three timed races where their single fastest time only counted for Grand Final qualification.
After each race, the scores were announced over the event p.a. and then put up on the event scoreboard and the festival's BIG screen TV for everyone to see and compare.
What you are aiming to achieve is an opportunity to compete in the last race of the day ... the Grand Final. This will be a race where the top three teams from across all the qualifying heats will race once more in the most competitive race of the day. The Grand Final will be a 3-boat race to the finish where first across will be declared: The Lord Mayor's Appeal Dragon Boat Champions of Bradford 2018.
Team work is vital if a fast time is going to be achieved and for this reason, the instructors gave 'on the water' training to help with technique. Over the distance raced, fitness is not a key factor - technique however is. So it does not matter if your team is made up of just 12 paddlers or 16, because it's a team sprint where team work, technique and timing is everything.
The event finished with an award ceremony where team trophies were awarded to the Captain's of the top three teams and Winner's Medals to each member of the winning team. It's a brilliant day out.
The Grand Final Winners:
1st Placed Winners: Red Phoenix. 1.01.77
2nd Placed Winners: Provi Ducks. 1.01.79
3rd Placed Winners: The Black-Hearts . 1.02.83