A friend of mine has been part of a Dragon Boat team for quite some time and it so happened that I had an opportunity to go and see her team race this morning. The various stars and planets were aligned to make it so that I had no other plans; my wife and the kids were all elsewhere so I could go and explore and take my time.
I awoke early and got there by public transit in a quicker time than Google said it would take me, so before the races started I could see the boats all lined up.
Before the teams get into the boats, they collect here so that they are ready to go to the next stage as soon as possible; this is the first queue station, so as a race is going on, the teams show up in their appropriate queue station.
The next queue station is where they line up in preparation for getting into the boat, so here you can see for each lane there is a tent, so the team moves from the queue station one above, to the lane queue station you see below.
Once a race is over and a boat is emptied, the team now gets into the boat, as you see below. Boats are always loaded with the people in the front first, and then are unloaded with the people in the front getting out of the boat last. I don't know why, but that is how it is done.
While the current race is running, the next set of boats passes them on an outside empty lane reserved for this, and then once the boats in the current race have passed, the next race boats can move out into the lanes to get into the starting position, so here you can see boat 0 and 2 moving towards their starting position.
This is where you see all of the boats now ready in their start position.
I didn't notice that my camera wasn't on a very good video setting, but no matter, I filmed the start of a race (race 2), the middle of a race (race 3) and the end of a race (race 4) to give an idea of what it all looks like. Sorry about the poor quality, but at least you get an idea of it. Youtube cut out the audio which is too bad as you can easily hear each boat's caller yelling at the crew to keep going.
The motor boats trailing the racing boats are there to tell boats to get back to the center of their lane if they end up swerving out of true.
Near the end of the course there is an enormous Parc Jean-Drapeau sign; you can tell the size of it by the people walking beneath it.
On a panel they show the list of races including what teams are competing and when they are competing. As results come in, they staple a new sheet on top of the existing one that shows all of the same information, but not including the results.
You can see that it took about two minutes and ten seconds for most teams to complete this 500m race.
In the end I didn't see my friend; I forgot to ask what team she was on. She mentioned that her race was at 8:44 or 8:56 or something like that, but as I didn't know what team it was I couldn't easily seek her out. I did wander among all of the teams, but there were so many people it was hard to find a specific individual.
It was pretty neat to see the variety of people that were participating; there were some teams that were really young, in their late teens while other teams had a few members who were in their 50s. Most of the people looked extremely fit with slim, well toned bodies. As this league (?) is very competitive, the teams must train very hard and very often.