Bathtub race for the dragon boat carnival

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 July, 2010, 12:00am

All manner of paddle power will be showcased in Victoria Harbour in two weeks' time when the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival takes to the water.

As well as 191 local and overseas dragon boat teams, the three-day event features a bathtub race over 100 metres, a Mr and Ms Dragon Boat contest and body painting.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board, which is jointly organising the event with the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Association, estimates this year's event will attract about 40,000 spectators.

Most of the event's HK$15-million budget comes from corporate sponsors and the government's Mega Events Fund, which provided HK$5 million. Sa Sa International Holdings is the main sponsor of races this year, with 3D-Gold Jewellery (Hong Kong), Hong Kong Disneyland and Sino Group among other sponsors.

About HK$9.5 million of the budget is being spent on the races and HK$3 million for the San Miguel Beer Garden, where artificial snow will rain down from time to time. The board is contributing HK$2.5 million to promote the three-day event from July 23 at the Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront.

The event's budget has grown over the years and largely depends on the number of teams participating in races. This year's 191 teams is almost double last year's number.

Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun said up to 8,000 of the 40,000 expected spectators are expected to be overseas visitors. So far, about 3,000 mainlanders have registered for tours to the dragon boat races in Hong Kong along with several hundred in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, he said.

The board has long wanted to make the races a major event on the annual tourism and sporting calendar but financial problems nearly saw the event called off in 2004.

Held since 1976, the competition was originally organised by the board but was handed over to the dragon boat association in 2000.

In 2005, the races were relocated to the Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront after almost a decade at Sha Tin's Shing Mun River despite difficulties in finding a title sponsor.

The races, held over 640 metres, will take place in six lanes along the Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront. In the event of a typhoon, the races will be held two weeks later at Shing Mun River.

This year's events are scheduled to allow teams to also participate in dragon boat races at Macau's Nam Van Nautical Centre from July 28 to August 1.

In the first six months of this year, Hong Kong attracted about 16.8 million visitors, up some 23 per cent from a year ago, according to board figures.

Paddle power

Up to 40,000 people are expected to attend this year's dragon boat carnival. The number of local and overseas teams entered for the dragon boat races is: 191