Building on the success of its debut appearance in 2013, Headway Somerset will once again be holding its Charity Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday 8th of June on the River Tone in Taunton. The festival offers the chance to participate or simply stand as a spectator of this growingly popular water sport.
Fast becoming a phenomenon in the world of competitive water sport, dragon boat racings history stems from ancient China. A symbolic creature in Chinese culture, boats designed to resemble the mythical dragon were originally used for acts of religion. The art of dragon boat racing began in homage to political activist Qu Yuan, who drowned in the Mi Lo River, his followers holding festivals in commemoration. Today the sport is as much fun for spectators as it is participants, with bold, colourful, traditional style boats decorating the river in a competition of strength and speed, all set to the sound of beating drums.
People of any age and level of fitness can take part in dragon boat racing. Success on the water will be the result of strong teamwork. The festival rules state that each team can be made up of 20 or more people, with a maximum of 16 paddlers and one drummer taking part per race. Launching from the jetty next to Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre, the race will begin at The Bridge and run for around 250 metres to the finish line adjacent to the County Cricket ground. A series of qualifying rounds will be held throughout the day with teams being ranked according to their fastest time. The event culminates in one last mad dash race to the finish line, crowing the dragon boat champions. For those wishing to stay on dry land the day holds plenty of excitement and action to observe, with the spectator support adding as much to the atmosphere as the races themselves. Whether taking part or cheering on, the Taunton Dragon Boat Festival 2014 promises to be a great day out for all the family.
Headway Somerset, a branch of its countrywide parent organisation Headway UK, is an independent charity aiding individuals affected by brain injury. Working with adults in the Somerset area, Headway aims to improve the quality of life and independence of those who have suffered brain injury, as well as helping to support the friends and family who care for them. The Charity Dragon Boat Festival is a new annual addition to an ongoing programme of fundraising events held by the charity. Last years Dragon Boat Festival raised nearly £22,000, split amongst Headway Somerset and other local charities.