Cobra Dragon Boat Regatta Leg 2: Battle of Strength and Speed

When in Manila, you should never miss going to Manila Bay.  Although it’s famed mostly for the majestic scene it offers during sunset, it also has some nice, curious sights to offer early in the morning.



Before even the crack of dawn, you will see lots of people sweating it off by jogging along the coastline, as it is a track of choice among long distance running trainers.  On the other side of the wall, on the calm waters of Manila Bay, you will see long and slim boats filled to capacity with people holding on uniformly to wooden paddles ploughing through the bay.  Shouts of instructions of the signal at the front of these boats cut through the silence of the sleepy hour, echoing weirdly.  These are dragon boat paddlers.  They keep an ancient Chinese sport alive by training almost everyday of the week, trying to strengthen themselves and paddle together as one.





 Warm- up dynamics before paddling




My team, the Amateur Paddlers Philippines (AmPPhi), is one of those groups laboring during the ungodly hours of the morning sometimes until the treacherously hot noon, trying to perfect each stroke as we remember to twist our torsos as we cut, dig, and pull the water in synchronicity, unmindful of the pathogens from the murky waters of the bay which we are already probably immune to.  





Getting ready for action. The waters were clear, a rare occurrence to the great pleasure of paddlers 




Last September 2, these dragon boat teams who religiously practice in the wee hours of the morning test themselves against each other to make known which among them have developed the mental and physical prowess to reign the waters of Manila Bay.  The second leg of the Cobra Dragon Boat Regatta commenced with much excitement, enthusiasm, and testosterone.  Yep, testosterone was emanating from everyone, even from the female paddlers.





Women’s teams  on standby, ready for gunstart



Coach Junrey Dayumat of the Dragon Warriors at the helm, steering the boat safely throughout the race





It was a fun event as most members of the dragon boat community under the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF), the only recognized federation of the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF), battle it out in the water while individual teams hold mini- parties within their tents.  Faces full of determination, anticipation, victory, and sometimes stoic acceptance of a loss, danced in front of my eyes as I survey the scene, knowing I will probably feel all of those emotions as well throughout the race.





 Coastguards and race officials make sure the race goes smoothly 




Our team is one of the youngest team in the federation, only recognized by PDBF for a little over 6 months.  Being a crew that young, it was a great achievement that we were able to field in three crews: Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed.  It was still heart-pounding to race, it is as if it was our first time.  It was pretty understandable, we were up against more established and bona- fide strong competitors who made their names known both locally and internationally.    I am pretty sure the other teams also felt the race jitters amid the general merry-making.





Hopeful and excited, teams pray for a good race. This scene is repeated at every tent.



Men’s teams back paddle to the starting line



Lady paddlers loading the boat




All the heats were full of excitement as each team cheer loudly for their crews.  Battle cries not much different from a scene from Gladiator were shouted from each boat, and from the docks.  This was what we are preparing ourselves for.  The few minutes out in the water will validate all our efforts.   The body pains, extreme time management and sacrifice of downtime really paid off for all, winners and the losers; because to be able to race is already a privilege and we know that so dearly.  It’s a way of paying homage to our coaches, and to ourselves. 





Power and synchronicity are key to dragon boat paddling


Scenes during the regatta that will definitely raise your adrenaline levels. Especially if you’re in one of those boats.


A firetruck was there to give much-needed, refreshing shower to the tired paddlers. Impromptu wet n’ wild street party!


AmPPhi Ladies are all smiles for winning the team’s first trophy



Results of the exciting regatta is listed below, and I am happy and proud to announce that AmPPhi was able to bag the 3rd place for the Women’s division.  And I am also proud to say the other crews we fielded in finished with competitive times.  Congratulations to all the teams who participated in this event and see you in the third leg!





Champion- Philippine Army


1st Runner Up- One Piece Drakon Sangres


2nd Runner Up- Onslaught Racing Dragons


3rd Runner Up- Triton




Champion- Onslaught Racing Dragons


1st Runner Up- Triton


2nd Runner Up- DLSU


3rd Runner Up- Blue Phoenix


WOMEN 300M (Small Boat)


Champion- Triton


1st Runner Up- Manila Ocean Park


2nd Runner Up- Amateur Paddlers Philippines


3rd Runner Up- RCP Sea Dragon





So When in Manila and you want to get fit while enjoying a gorgeous scene of the Manila skyline, try out dragon boat, one of the best sports to get both mind and body conditioned and teammanship, discipline and professional athleticism cultivated.



Photos by Judith Hakim and Kristofer “Takumi” Caburian


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Amateur Paddlers Philippines (AmPPhi)
Contact: 09228052255

Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF)








Cobra Dragon Boat Regatta Leg 2: Battle of Strength and Speed