TAMPA — Competitors paddled it out in Garrison Channel on Saturday during the annual Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Races.
Rowing teams from Tampa and elsewhere raced up the channel past a staging area and concurrent Asia Fest in Fort Cotanchobee Park along the Tampa Riverwalk. Each boat carried about 20 paddlers, who rowed in tandem to the beat of a loud drum until they crossed the finish line 440 meters from the starting point.
Dragon boating is a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that celebrates patriotism and group integrity, according to the International Dragon Boat Federation.
The local races, in their 12th year, were hosted by the Tampa-based Pan American Dragon Boat Association. Touted as the fastest-growing team water sport, dragon boating promotes team-building, health and fitness, the organization said.
Tampa is host to another dragon boating event in October, the Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Classic. The event, put on by High Five Dragon Boat LLC in conjunction with the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, raises money for breast cancer awareness.