The 13-member seniors contingent representing the UAE in the Hungary championship Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Thirteen women from the UAE are taking part in a dragon boat world championship – The 11th Club Crew World Championship (CCWC) - in Szeged, Hungary this week.

The women, who are all above 40 in the senior women’s team from the UAE, are participating in three races – 200 metres, 500 metres and two kilometres in the championship which will be held until July 22.

One of the team members Jo Owen, 47, told XPRESS over the phone from Szeged: “Our first 200 metre race was very tight. The difference in time between the second place and us was only 0.4 seconds. It was a photo finish. We hope to do better in the 500 metre race.”

Team coach Melissa O’Brien, 51, earlier said, “We are competing with 17 other teams from all over the world. CCWC is the highest level of competition in dragon boat racing. It is a matter of great pride that we are representing the UAE.”

Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese sport which has gained popularity in the western world in the last decade. It is a paddle sport, not a rowing one. In the rowing sport, the participants sit in the centre of the boat and use both their arms to row on either sides. In paddling, they share a bench with the two partners paddling on either side. A standard boat accommodates 20 paddlers and a small one 10.

Preparing for the race

O’Brien said, “Dragon boat is a team sport that requires working in synchronisation. We are competing in the small boat category. Our team comprises 11 paddlers, a drummer and a steers person. The drummer’s job is to keep the timing and the rhythm of the paddling on the boat. The steers person steers the boat.” She said the team started preparing for the championship way back in September. “We hired a personal trainer who put together a fitness programme for us. This involved doing cardio and weight training, eating a balanced meal and sleeping early. We also did a lot of yoga and meditation. The idea has been to be fit and in optimal weight as we don’t want the boat getting too heavy,” added O’Brien.