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Budapest Dragon Boat Festival

3rd EuroLeague 2008-series Race

06 August 2008 - 
The Hungarian Dragon Boat Federation gave a preview of what awaits crews planning to attend next years European Club Crew Championships during the Budapest Dragon Boat Festival held at Lagymanyosi Bay on 12 & 13 July. The festival was also the site of the third EuroLeague race of the 2008 season.

With nearly 40 crews in total, the event was well attended by both novice and experienced teams from Hungary. Nearby Czech Republic entered 6 crews in the event for the EuroLeague.

Budapest Lagymanyosi Bay
Nokia Cup participants relax between
races while HDBF President,
Laszlo Sziklenka (Sr.) looks on.
Photo: K. Beckwith.

The race was held at the Lagymanyosi Bay, a new entertainment complex on the edge of the center of Budapest. According to Budapests mayor, who was at the opening day of the event, the bay was once a ship repair and cargo wharf and home to an assortment of fishing shacks, dilapidated warehouses and ship carcasses rusting in the water. The city has cleaned up the area and a team of architects, landscape designers and builders has created a beautiful, modern park with good access to the water, plenty of accommodation for restaurants & cafes and an open-air performance podium on the water overlooked by wide grass and gravel terraces. But a big question facing race organizers Peter Jarosi and Laszlo Sziklenka of the Hungarian DBF, was: What will foreign teams expect in the run up to next years European Club Crew Championship?

Premier-level paddlers from both Hungary and Czech Republic attending the festival agreed that not only was the facility beautiful, but more important, "The racing water is good and deep. No interference from waves from the sides." They also thought that visibility over the race course was good for spectators, although felt that there should be more buoys marking the race lanes during the ECCC races. That, and other recommendations, will go from EDBFs ComSpec Chair, Bridget Walter, to the organizers so they can finish preparations for next years championships.

The Festival was well organized with some very good performances from novice local and Nokia Cup teams competing against each other. The Dragon Active Cup, part of Hungarys premier national circuit, shows that dragon boat racing has been growing steadily since it was established in Hungary only a few years ago. Attending the race weekend were 9 open crews, 6 mixed crews and 6 womens crews (including crews from Czech Republic).

"The competition is growing in Hungary," said Fulop Viandt of team Arrabona. "There are teams from a canoeing background and teams like ours, who started in festival racing and are now doing serious racing." Viandt and a number of his teammates first came into contact with dragon boat racing when Phillips employees in Gyor entered a team in the local festival. The competition and team spirit proved addictive and Arrabona, which still counts some Phillips employees in its ranks, is now in its second year as a premier level racing team.

Moravian finishes first
Moravian is over the finish as Prague Selection,
Kojetin and unidentified team vie for a close second.
Photo by Zsanett Sziklenka.

This was the third race for the season in the EuroLeague series, with the Czech crews and veteran Hungarian crews doing the best. EuroLeague top three results for the weekend were:
Open:

  1. Moravian Dragons, Czech, 41.28
  2. Dragon Team Kojetin, Czech, 43.56
  3. Stesz Szodliget, Hungary, 44.28

Mixed:
  1. Prague Selection, Czech, 44.76
  2. Moravian Dragons, Czech, 45.88
  3. Stesz Szodliget, Hungary, 47.02

Women:
  1. Wild of Prague, Czech, 49.54
  2. Wigs of Dragon Kojetin, Czech, 50.57
  3. Raba Dragonasz, Hungary, 54.10
Full race results can be accessed here.

It was a good weekend for paddlers and spectators alike, with warm weather, good racing, entertainment and plenty of cold beer at the friendly party at the end of the first racing day. But it was an especially good race weekend for Moravian Dragons and Prague Selection. "We wanted to use this as a try-out for the World Club Crew Championships in Penang," said a smiling Jaromir Manak of Moravian Dragons after Moravians crews won gold in the open 200m, silver for the mixed 200m and silver in the 2000m. "We trained hard and I have to say that we are in good condition, probably our best ever!"

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