Matatu Film Festival highlights African indie cinema, Dragon Boats on the Lake, Oakland Music Festiv

Bay Area Dragons team lets it ride

If you were around Lake Merritt this past weekend, you might have heard a lot of commotion and wondered what, exactly, was happening. No need for alarm; it was only dragons.

Dragon boaters pulling hard

Dragon boats, to be specific. The tradition of racing dragon boatselongated canoes which hold 20 or more paddlers, decorated with a dragons head at the bow and a tail at the sternoriginated in Chinas Pearl River delta some 2,000 years ago as a friendly competition among neighboring villages.

In 2009, a dragon boat team called the Oakland Renegades partnered with the citys Parks and Recreation Department, and the Pacific Dragon Boat Association, to bring the sport to Lake Merritt, which now hosts an annual Dragon Boat Festival. Several bay area squads have emerged, including Bay Area Dragons (B.A.D.), Dragonmax, and the San Francisco Dragonhealers, a Kaiser Permanente-sponsored team. On Saturday and Sunday, those crews competed with dragon boat teams from Portland and San Diego in all-day heats on the lake, a regional qualifier for the International Dragon Boat Federations World Club Crew Championship, to be held in 2014 in Italy.

The coxswain drums to set the rowers’ pace

Dragon boat racing is fast and furious; the 40-foot boats race 500-meter distances in about two minutes, and the races require both physical strength and coordination, as teams must work together, in rhythm, to successfully outpace their opponents.

Dragon boats race 500 meters in an average time of two minutes.

The s....

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