TEMPE, Ariz. -- The 2013 Arizona Dragon Boat Festival is celebrating 10 years at Tempe Town Lake and four teams are joining in to celebrate this milestone of dragon boat racing on the lake.
The Arizona Gila Dragons along with the Killer Guppies, L.A. Thunder Dragons, and Mayo Clinic were awarded Saturday for 10 years of participating in the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival.
Baco Otero joined the Killer Guppies Dragon Boat team in December and the sport grew on him very quickly.
“At first I was doing it just as a good workout,” he said. “And then they sucked me in, you know, they got me hooked.”
But there is an art to dragon boat racing. Gary Cumberland knows this more than anyone as the coach for the Arizona Gila Dragons, a team that has won medals and traveled as far as Hong Kong for the sport.
“There’s a certain placement that people fit in the boat. Generally lighter people with longer arms at the front so that everybody can see them behind and the stronger more powerful people tend to go towards the back,” said Cumberland.
But the festival is not just for the pros. It is a great opportunity to get involved whether you have been training for years or just looking for some team building fun.
"It's all about team building," said Binal Patel, co-chair of the 10th Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival. "It's all about the fun and the spirit of dragon boating."
The festival allows teams to sign up and compete in the Corporate Divisions. Wells Fargo and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) were among the corporate division teams competing this year.
The festival also benefits the Special Olympics of Arizona.
"Our organization itself gives back to Special Olympics," said Patel, who also added that breast cancer survivor teams participate at discounted rates.
Nearly 70 clubs will be competing in the races this weekend.
“Anywhere from California to Portland, Oregon to Colorado,” said Patel. “We got some team paddlers themselves that are flying in from Canada to paddle with other teams here.”
Those who missed the event Saturday can still catch the final races and awards ceremonies on Sunday. Vendors and entertainment are at the festival throughout the weekend.
The Arizona Dragon Boat Festival will be at Tempe Town Lake Marina on the North Shore Lake from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free.
For more information call 602-284-8780 or visit The Arizona Dragon Boat Association website.