While the professional sailing action will be fast and furious on Corio Bay for the upcoming Festival of Sails from January 26 to 29, there’ll also be plenty of opportunities for visitors of all ages to get a taste of some of Australia’s other most popular on water activities.
Long-time favourite, dragon boat racing and the emerging sport of coastal rowing will both be showcased during the event.
Members of the Geelong Dragon Boat Club will have a number of boats at Wangim Walk on Sunday, January 29 between 9am and 12 noon showcasing demonstrations and encouraging people to come and try what is reportedly one of the fastest growing water sports in Australia.
With origins dating back more than 2000 years, dragon boat races have been a major part of Chinese culture.
Legend has it that the sport originated in China after poet and statesman Qu Yuan threw himself into the Mi Lo River to protest the corrupt political power at the time. It is said that when word was shared of his death, local fishermen raced out in their boats to be the first to recover Qu Yuan’s body — so the racing of dragon boats began.
The boats themselves symbolise the dragon, with the paddles representing the claws and the drum representing the beating heart.
Geelong Dragon Boat Club spokesperson Susannah Gillam says it’s a fabulous sport suitable for people of all ages.
“For us it’s about fitness and friendship and Dragon Boat racing offers that and so much more!,” she says. “We’re always keen to welcome new members so would love to chat to people at the Festival of Sails about how they might get involved for either fun or some serious competition.”
And if the beating drum is not your style, you might want to have a crack at Coastal Rowing and Beach Sprints which is a fast paced and emerging sport which will feature in the Commonwealth Games in Geelong in 2026 and is hoping to be included in the 2028 Olympic Games.
Rowing Australia spokesperson Sarah Cook says the fledgling Australian sport which launched in Europe in the 1980s is challenging, exciting and unpredictable with interest in the sport expected to grow significantly in coming years.
“It takes rowing to a whole new level with two formats being endurance and beach sprint,” she says.
“The endurance event ranges between 4 and 6km around buoys in the sea or ocean, while the beach sprint race begins on the beach with a rower running out to the boat to its’ waiting crew, then race around two buoys and back to the beach to the finish line. It’s fast, furious, and tough and we’re delighted that we get to expose people to it at the Festival of Sails!”
There will be four coastal rowing boats waiting for intrepid would-be rowers on Eastern Beach on Thursday 26th and Friday 27 between 8am and 2pm.