Street Talk: Yara Kostetzer, Brazucas Founder
Yara Kostetzer is the founder and manager of Brazucas, the Brazilian Dragon Boat team. She tells Adrienne Chum about getting the team together and dancing like it’s Carnaval.
HK Magazine: What got you started in dragon boating?
Yara Kostetzer: It was my fourth year in Hong Kong, and I wanted to do something more related to Hong Kong and Chinese culture. I wanted to meet more people by doing sports, not by going out to Lan Kwai Fong. I thought that sports were a better way to meet people from different backgrounds—especially in Hong Kong.
HK: Why a Brazilian team?
YK: My first year when I was on the international team I thought: “This looks like the Brazilian Carnaval!” It was so nice to see people competing and having a party at the same time. The next year we spread the word among the Brazilians and we managed to start our first team.
HK: Was it hard at first?
YK: It’s always difficult in the beginning because people don’t want to sacrifice their Saturday to go all the way to Stanley for practice. Every year it is a challenge to put the team together, but in the end we have the team, we start practicing. We have more women than men; it’s always harder to get the men. I think they like to party so they don’t want to come to practice on Saturdays.
HK: Are you confident this year?
YK: Yes. Last year we got to the Gold Plate Finals, but this year we want to try to win the cup. Even if that’s not possible, we are still happy with the Plate. But my team needs at least one trophy, otherwise we get very demotivated. We always try to get a trophy—any trophy is good for us.
HK: Ever had any boating mishaps?
YK: Our first year, we almost didn’t make it to the start of the race because we were singing and dancing before getting on the boat. Someone said, “Brazucas, you should be there! You are last!” We had to paddle back for the race. We were really tired!
HK: Do you ever brag to people that you’re a Brazilian national athlete?
YK: Oh yeah! Sometimes I say I’m a very famous singer in Brazil and I’m just spending some time in Hong Kong because nobody knows me. People believe me—just at the beginning. Brazilians, they are full of stories to tell, stories that are not true.
HK: What are your costumes like?
YK: This year we are going to have a bird costume. It is red, blue and yellow. I was trying to find something that was yellow and green—the Brazilian colors—but I couldn’t find one. We are going to wear the bird head while paddling. My team is not very happy because it is so hot! My plan is to wear the head for the whole day and we can put on the wings for the costume competition. The wings are not very good for paddling because they inhibit our arm movement.
HK: How do you prep for the race?
YK: We are always singing and dancing when we go to the races. We sing Brazilian songs, Carnaval songs. We also have a song for our boat: we sing it every day for practice and on race days.
HK: Do you drink at the races?
YK: We’ve ordered some cachaça to make Caipirinhas and drink them after our last race, or maybe after lunch. Afterwards we’re going to the promenade to drink with everyone.
HK: Pre-race drinking, huh? Risky.
YK: We try to control that, but we have many people visiting our tent. I think we can have a little bit. People get very stressed when they get in the boat, so it’s a good way to relax.
Watch the Sun Life Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships on Jun 20. Races start 8am near Stanley Main Beach.