TOBAGO’S beloved Oceanus crowned its ten-year anniversary celebrations on Sunday and once again stamped its authority as one of TT’s top clubs after winning a third title at the 15th annual Chinese Arrival Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday.
Much like the previous day, Oceanus and Aquaholics went head-to-head over the course of Sunday afternoon’s events at Skallywag Bay Adventure Park in Chaguaramas.
Oceanus defeated its nearest rivals Aquaholics with the best time over two heats to win the Premier Open 200 metres, a day after winning the Premier Open 500m, two of the fesitval’s highly-anticipated and competitive races.
Oceanus clocked 47.47 seconds in their best effort, narrowly ahead of Acquaholics’ 48.78 seconds.
Both Oceanus and Aquaholics ended with the most category titles (three each). Aquaholics were also successful on Sunday in the Premier Female 200m, clocking a best 1:00.91.
Also taking the spotlight was an exhibition event contested by a team of breast cancer survivors, a first of its kind at the festival.
They comprised members of the federation’s branch of the International Breast Cancer Paddling Committee, an international organisation that encourages the establishment of breast cancer dragon boat teams.
TT Dragon Boat Federation public relations officer Kent Fuentes said the association was “really happy that they finally got their chance today.”
Following the event, rowers lay wreaths into the water in ceremonial fashion in tribute to people who died of breast cancer.
Unfortunately, there were drastic alterations to the day’s programme after rain forced a major delay in the morning.
The festival kicked off around 11 am, about two hours after the scheduled start – an interruption which forced two rounds of races to act as one.
Fuentes said this was ensure sufficient time for the prize-giving to take place and for attendees to be able to smootly leave Chaguaramas, where there is typically major traffic congestion on Sunday evenings.
It meant much of the cultural activities were also cancelled.
Instead of two rounds of races, each division contested two races in one round, with the winners being determined by their best time.
In all, 15 awards were presented to teams over the two-day event, eight on Sunday and seven the day before.
Both Oceanus and Aquaholics took the spotlight on Saturday. Aquaholics drew first blood against Oceanus, winning the Premier Mixed 500m before a second victory in the Premier Mixed 200m, narrowly beating Oceanus.
Oceanus won both the Premier Female 500m and the Premier Open 500m – perhaps the most eagerly anticipated and contested races – with Aquaholics placing second.
Other winners on Sunday included Presentation College San Fernando Vikings in the Under-21 Open 200m; Titans in the Premier Mixed 200; HVC Hyperion in the Under-21 200m; St Joseph’s Convent in the Under-21 Female 200m; and Caciques in the Senior Open 200m.
The event was hosted by Chinese Bicentennial Ltd and the TT Dragon Boat Federation, in association with the Chinese Embassy.
This year’s events commemorate the 216th anniversary of the arrival of 194 Chinese immigrants in TT on the ship Fortitude. They are believed to be the first group of Chinese to migrate to TT.
Apart from the exhibition race, where was another star attraction in the Ambassador’s Cup, which featured teams – a mixture of Chinese immigrants and ex-patriates within the business community and Trinidadians of Chinese descent – with the winner receiving a cup from the Ambassador of China to TT. That race was won by the Chinese Association of TT.
Fuentes told Newsday said he found the events “competitive enough” after the event was forced to cancel over the past two years.
“I think you have to give rowers credit after not paddling competitively at this same regatta since 2019. Props to the teams. Certainly, a lot of teams had problems coming out of covid but a lot of the teams out there gave it their best shot.”
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