Media Coverage for Women's Sport
This weekend’s DBS Marina Regatta at Marina Bay will see eight women’s dragon boat races, a huge jump from just one in last year’s inaugural edition.
There will be a 200m and a 500m race in each of the four categories: International Premier Women, Singapore Premier Women, Tertiary Women and Corporate Women.
For a sport that started in Singapore in 1978 as a male activity, this is a clear sign that women are increasingly drawn to dragon boat racing despite its gruelling nature.
Indeed, this year’s Marina Regatta will see 688 women, out of a total of 2,412 participants, taking part in the eight races, compared to 450 in two races last year – the women’s and the mixed races.
Said Jason Chen, 31, founder and director of Dragon Boat Innovate (DBI), which helps promote the sport: “It used to rely on mixed events, where both men and women row in the same boat, just to get female rowers into the sport. This is no longer the case.
“Female participation in the sport is now at a level where dedicated women’s races are demanded. Since DBI was founded in 2010, we have reached out to about 10,000 people through workshops and training programmes. There could actually be more women than men among those 10,000.”
So what do women find appealing in dragon boat racing, a demanding sport that sees its exponents spending hours under the unforgiving sun and paddling up to 40 tortuous kilometres a week?
For Stella Tay, captain of the Singapore Management University (SMU) women’s dragon boat team, it is precisely the toughness that appeals to her.
Said the 21-year-old, who started racing five years ago in her Republic Polytechnic days: “I’m someone who loves a good challenge. So when I heard my friends raved about how tough dragon boat racing is, I decided to join the sport and challenge myself.”
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