I know dragon boat for long as there is a dragon boat day Day in China. But I didn’t see the dragon boat until I was 24 years old when I was in Hong Kong. I went to Lantau Island on that day and saw a dragon boat race.
KPMG was recruiting dragon boat team members in October last year. I was told dragon boat was a popular sport for team building and KPMG had the dragon boat team for 5 years. The dragon boat race would be in the second week of the Chinese New Year, which is also the closure of the celebration. I didn’t hesitate and paid for my registration. My body was calling for my Chinese blood and I knew it.
The training started in October as well. It was fun for one second then became hard. I needed a full bottle of water for the training and I particularly did not like wearing wet clothes going home but the water was inevitable from the strong peddlers.
On Sunday 25th February, we were at Darling Harbour at 7.30am. The nerves and emotions were etched into everyone’s faces, yes it was the race day. There were 48 corporate teams in the race and every boat has 2 heats. KPMG’s one boat was in the major final and the other was in the minor final. In the minor final, one KPMG boat was narrowly beaten by another team. It wasn’t great news for us waiting for the major final.
I was lucky to be in the major final and it was pretty intense. Westpac clearly didn’t want to be challenged as they were leading the game for almost 10 years. At the starting point, there were war cries from them but our team remained quiet and focused. After a few deep breaths, we started the race. The first 20 strokes were really fast and I could feel everyone wanted to win the game. At 100m, “Go Now, Everything” was from the back of the boat – the traditional call that we had to empty the very last ounce of energy. There was supposed to be a transition with longer and slower stroke but no one slowed down. I followed the person at the front closely. The last 20 seconds was like a long day, but we finally finished. I couldn’t see the result and didn’t know what happened until some KPMG crew were cheering from the bank. I thought we won but the boat was very silent. I once thought what would happen if we won, the funniest scenario was all of us jumped into Darling Harbour, but no, nothing crazy happened. One stoke, two strokes, we moved slowly back to the pier. We took a picture when we jusmped out of the boat with the gesture of Number 1. That was our celebration.
Not sure it was just for us or it was a tradition at Dragonboat race. Everyone from the race used their paddles to build a corridor for us to go through and I just gave high five to everyone. I finally realised that we indeed won the race. It was amazing. On the way back to the crew, I saw the announce board. We finished the race at 50.06s, only 0.22 seconds ahead of Westpac. It was very close but so glad we won.
It was raining on that day and I walked home wet but I had no complaints at all. In the night I heard someone said “Are you ready?” and I put my paddle in the water. Yes, it was a sweet dream.