With one of the wettest starts to a summer since records began, there can't have
been anyone connected with the Dragon Boat Race who wasn't watching the weather forecasts
in the run up to Race Day, and dreading what seemed likely to descend upon us from
And while we know from 2006 that Dragon Boaters are keen and enthusiastic people
who like nothing better than a quick paddle across the lake, it has to be said that
standing around for hours waiting for the quick paddle is more than slightly depressing
when the skies are grey and the rain is falling.
But whatever agency was looking down upon us, was feeling charitable, and for most
of the day we escaped the deluge which had been threatened.
The Scouts who were taking charge of the Marine activities, and the Rotarians who
were coordinating the dry bits, all arrived at Waterside Lodge in good time. Gazebos
went up in short order, the marshalling areas were set out and tested. The public
address system, too, was tried and tested, and the first of the day's Country and
Western songs echoed across our part of the Lake.
Along, too, came Vitalise and Queenscourt Hospice, with their sideshows and attractions,
Southport Inner Wheel Club with face painting, and no fewer than two Bouncy Castles
were watched over by a team of experienced bouncy and falling-over Rotarians
Sixteen teams registered to take part in this year's event. In no particular order,
these were JJB Sports; Queenscourt Hospice; H Edmondson Car Sales; Ellerslie Court;
Sandpipers; Southport Insurance Brokers; Merchant Taylors School; Mitchell and Wright;
The Royal Clifton Hotel; Fletchers Solicitors; Tarleton Rugby Union Football Club;
Pershing Securities; Sefton MBC; Plantec Holdings; Champion Accountants, and last,
but not least, Southport Round Table.
But as the teams started to arrive, the atmosphere became more competitive. Fifteen
teams - one, unfortunately, missing on the day - assembled, took part in arcane and
unusual rituals before boarding their boats and putting out their best efforts against
the clock. Each team made two runs across the Lake, and the combined total of the
two was used to determine which competition the team would enter next.
The eight fastest teams were set to fight for the Cup, and the slightly more sedate
teams challenged for the Plate. It has to be said that there was very little time
between any of the teams, sometimes with two or three seconds separating two or three
teams - the general standard this year was significantly faster than the first Dragon
Boat Race held only a year ago!
Thanks to the Scouts, and the Helmsmen - those young Dragon Boaters who will be travelling
to Sydney to represent Great Britain in the World Championships in January - the
events followed each other with the precision of a well-oiled machine. Apart from
the unfortunate tendency for the Dragons' heads to become detached from the rest
of the beasts, we had a textbook experience. No one sank (who said 'shame?') No one
crashed, and no one fell out of the boat.
And during most of the day IT DIDN'T RAIN. True, there were one or two minor droplets
just after lunch, but the worst that happened was a light drizzle during the last
two or three races, and by that time the white heat of competition was enough to
keep most of the teams and supporters glowing, if not actually dry.
●To see the presentation of the prizes, go to our 2007 Prizewinners page