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Paddle Far in Europe

20 May 2011
I sometimes ask myself why I spend so much time training & traveling to do one of my favorite things for the least amount of time possible. Just think about it - we spend hours a week on the water and in the gym to shave fractions of seconds off our times on the regatta course. Although going as fast as possible is what we dragon boaters like to do, sometimes it seems crazy how little time we actually spend racing versus the time we spend training. Luckily, there are a number of long distance events in Europe throughout the year where paddlers can enjoy (or endure) the pain and exhilaration of racing for longer stretches of time. Some are for dragon boats only, such as the Winter Series races held in both Great Britain and the Netherlands, and some are for all kinds of human-powered water craft such as Switzerland´s Armada Cup in Bern and the well-known Great River race along the Thames, through London.

Although extremely long distance races are not part of the official IDBF or EDBF program, some of the events are organized by our members. Other events are organized by various fellow water sport lovers and offer the chance for dragon boat, kayak, outrigger, and canoe paddlers to paddle alongside rafters and rowers.

One of the most beautiful of these long distance human-powered craft races is the Vogalonga, in Venice, Italy. Claudio Schermi, Sr. VP of the EDBF and President of the Italian DBF sent along this report:

"Many Dragon Boaters from all around the world attend this amazing event every year. The Vogalonga is a 30km paddling/rowing race through the city of Venice and the lagoon up to Burano. There are usually well over one thousands boats in the race, of many types.

It starts from St Mark´s Basin. After going round St. Helen Island, it follows the coast of the Island of Vignole, Sant´Erasmo and San Francesco del Deserto. Burano is reached halfway through the route; then, passing the Islands of Mazzorbo, Madonna del Monte and San Giacomo in Paludo, the line of boats enters Murano and crosses its Grand Canal. After reaching Venice, the boats go through the Cannaregio Canal, reach the Grand Canal and, finally, they pass the finish line located at the Punta della Dogana, opposite St. Mark´s Square.

The Vogalonga is an act of love for Venice and its waters, for its lagoon and its islands, for Dragon Boating, Rowing and its Venetian Boats. The Vogalonga retains over time its original purpose: to disseminate knowledge, awareness and respect for the essence and culture of our city. The Vogalonga is a celebration for the entire ´people of the oar´, and today, just as in the beginning, it is a peaceful testimony against the wave-motion, so dangerous for the city and the lagoon.

The Vogalonga embraces local history and traditions, but also features an international dimension, bringing amateurs from all over the world together with the locals who spend their time in the lagoon, as well as belong to the lagoon. The Vogalonga is born out of the fondness and perseverance of a group of Venetians who, for over thirty years, have kept it alive in a completely non-profit way and thanks to the cooperation of the public administration and with the full support of the world of rowing - and now also of dragon boating."

Claudio says he gets lots of requests from teams for information on this race, so passes this information along: crews that still need to book a Dragon Boat should contact Mr. Vincenzo Rizzo owner of Dragon Boat Experience srl (vincenzorizzo(at)dbexperience.it), official supplier of the Italian Dragon Boat Federation. He may still have few dragon boats available for rental (Swift Dragon Boats).

For more info visit the Vogalong website or contact the organizing committee: Comitato Organizzatore Vogalonga - S.Marco, 951 - 30124 Venezia Ph. +39 0415210544 - Fax +39 0415200771 e-mail: info(at)vogalonga.it - for enrolment: iscrizioni(at)vogalonga.com

Czech Republic started a tradition of long distance dragon boat races five years ago with the annual "Tragically Long Distances" races hosted by the women´s dragon boat club Tragedky of Prague. While the racing distance is not as long as the Vogalonga, the races take place near Prague which vies for beauty and history with its Italian cousin. Last year in addition to Czech teams, teams from Germany, Hungary and Slovakia joined their Czech dragon boat colleagues for an event that was certainly more fun than the "Tragically Long Distances" title implies.

Tragically Long Distance race, Czech Republic

Hana Kavankova sends along this report on last year´s race and invites teams to join them for this year´s race on 15 October.

"This year the Tragically Long Distances mark already their 5th anniversary. It will be a great race and we would be more than happy to welcome you here in Prague! In 2010 the Slovak crew Dračia Legia Trenčín won the Open category in an unprecedented time 20:10,12 - the fastest time in the history of the race. The second place was taken by the newcomers, the Prague based Haka Dragons followed by the previous year winners Uckermark Dragons from Germany. We hope to see a lot of newcomers to challenge the winners of 2010!

Winners of the 4500 meter race as well as 450 meter fun race will be awarded cups and prizes. All are welcome to a closing party, which in traditional Czech style, will include a roast pig and plenty of good pilsner beer! There will be heated tents and a snack bar in place."

For more information on the race, contact Hana Kavankova via e-mail (hana.kavankova(at)gmail.com) or visit Tragedky´s website.

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