From employees to friends, dragon boat race brings teams together

Published 12:07 am Sunday, July 31, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

HIGH ROCK LAKE — Suddenly, a horn sounded.

Propelled by the power of their passengers, three boats, sitting yards apart, lurched forward. Under the Saturday sun, the boats zipped across High Rock Lake in no time.

This pattern repeated a number of times throughout the day among the 25 teams gathered on the banks of the lake. By the end of the course, even the more experienced teams were tired.

It was the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s third-annual dragon boat race, and an estimated 3,000 people showed up to spectate, cheer on a friend or participate in the races.

Local businesses and organizations represented a significant portion of the 25 teams. Each team included 20 rowers and a drummer. Coming from other cities, and even other states, some teams simply consisted of people who enjoy dragon boat racing.

Dee Bauer, a member of Charlotte team Fearlessly Authentic, said her group traveled to the dragon boat race on High Rock Lake because it was relatively close for the team’s members. Bauer’s group is a newly formed and aims to be “the most inclusive dragon boat team.” It includes Charlotte area residents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Bauer and teammate Mac McLaughlin said they enjoy dragon boat racing because it helps build camaraderie.

“You literally live and die in the race because of your team on the boat,” McLaughlin said.

Gary Blabon, senior director of operations at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, echoed McLaughlin’s sentiments. The Chamber’s annual dragon boat race is a team-building activity for Novant, which assembled two total teams for Saturday’s race.

“At the hospital, we have so many different teams,” Blabon said. “You know, when you think of hospitals, you think of doctors and nurses, but we have respiratory care, plant engineering, nursing, biomed. We work together on the periphery in our work, but for us to come together and depend on each other during the race makes this event really fantastic.”

Novant Health has participated in the race and been a sponsor every year, he said.

This year, the event drew about 500 dragon boat racers, a number of spectators and 12 vendors.

Chamber of Commerce President Elaine Spalding said the event has “gotten bigger and better” every year. During the first year, organizers had to explain how dragon boat racing works. Since then, Spalding says she has received positive feedback from businesses, who say the event is “the best team-building exercise they have done.”

Spalding said the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce decided to start a dragon boat race when contemplating the creation of a fun, summer event.

A golf tournament was one possibility.

“But there were already enough golf outings, so we looked at other activities that may fit,” she said.

The annual dragon boat race helps show off High Rock Lake, Spalding said.

Results for Saturday’s dragon boat race are as follows:

Division A Major

• 1st- Runners Oar Rowers, 1:13.86

• 2nd- Anger Management, 1:14.19

• 3th- Crossfit Albemarle, 1:14.86

• 4th- F&M Strokes of Genius, 1:15.11

Division A Minor

• 1st- We’re Sexy and We Row it, 1:19.45

• 2nd- Manic Propulsion, 1:20.85

• 3rd- Power Paddlers, 1:21.75

Division B Major

• 1st- Life Boat, 1:21.45

• 2nd- Fearlessly Authentic, 1:21.80

• 3rd- Imagine Dragons, 1:22.50

Division B Minor

• 1st- Anchors Up, 1:19.06

• 2nd- VAEA Warriors, 1:25.09

• 3rd- Healing Dragons of Charlotte, 1:25.59

Division C Major

• 1st- One World Dragon Boat, 1:26.65

• 2nd- Gigaboat City, 1:27.17

• 3rd- Salisbury Post Gnus, 1:27.75

Division C Minor

• 1st- Dragon Boat at the Beach, 1:30.44

• 2nd- Trinity Oaks Dragon Slayers, 1:31.02

• 3rd- Healing Waters, 1:38.17

Division D Major

• 1st- Senior Games Boomer Powered, 1:28.91

•2nd- Rowan County Rockin’ Rowers, 1:31.47

• 3rd- HRLA, 1:31.46

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.