Dubai Padel Club
Members of the Dubai Paddle Club during a training session. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Dubai Paddle Club crew are eagerly looking forward to an experience of a lifetime when they compete against the best in the International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships in Sarasota, USA.

“It’s a great feeling being able to take part in the World Championships of a sport that you love - just to actually be there is a fantastic experience and it’s a privilege to be able to race against some of the best teams in the world,” said Marianne Parks, one of the coaches for Dubai Paddle Club and who has also competed for Team GB. “We want every member of the team to have an awesome experience at the championships, trust in their training, race their best race and then see what happens.”

A total of 2,500 athletes from 70 teams across 11 countries are going to take part in the 13th championships in Florida in premier mixed, premier women’s and senior mixed teams in the 200, 500 and 2,000-metre races.

Mike and Marianne
Coaches Mike Bevan and Marianne Parks during a training session for the World Championships in Florida. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai Paddle Club, based at Dubai Offshore Sailing Club with 45 members from 15 countries, has raced at World Championships in Hungary and qualified for the World Championships in France in 2020, which had to be cancelled due to Covid.

Fast growing sport

Dragon boat race is one of the fastest growing sport in Dubai. In the last 10 years, the teams have increased from around 10 to around 30-plus now and the racing has become incredibly competitive, feels Mike Bevan, another coach of the team and a former Welsh rower, who feels the team will learn more about the sport by competing against the best in the business.

“It will be a great experience for our paddlers, which has made them better paddlers technically and a better team,” said Bevan as the team are taking part in their first heat on Wednesday.

Dubai Paddle Club
Dubai Paddle Club members during a training session in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Both Parks and Bevan feel winning the men’s and mixed boat titles and runners-up in the women’s crown at the end of season’s races in April in Abu Dhabi as their best moment. “It was a culmination of a lot of hard work throughout the year by every member of the team,” Bevan added.

Dragon boat racing is the ultimate team sport and every member of the team plays a key role in the success of the team. Dubai Paddle Club is taking part in the 10-man boat racing categories at the the world championships.

“Hopefully, we will attract more people into the sport here in the UAE, so we will be able to enter the standard boat (20 man) at the next world championships in two years’ time,” concluded Parks.