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Water sports fest hits city

Watch a dragon boat race and surf ski kayaking pros at the Mumbai Ocean Championship 2012 today.

entertainment Updated: Jan 29, 2012 16:12 IST
Pooja Maheshwary

If you are a water-sports junkie looking for a thrill, head to Mumbai Ocean Championship 2012 and catch contestants competing in dragon boat racing and surf ski kayaking.

A visual delight for spectators, the championship, held at H2O Water Sports Centre at Girgaum Chowpatty today, is organised by sports company Rae Sport. “We hope to demystify water sports for Mumbaikars, who think these activities can be enjoyed only outside city limits. We have boats that are approved by the International Dragon Boat Federation,” says Rajiv Bhatia, founder of Rae Sport. He adds that the highlight of the race is that the winning 12-member team will get to travel to Thailand to participate in the Asian Championship this year.

The three-day event, which started on January 27, will see teams from around the country row their boats, including four women’s teams from Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

A noteworthy spectacle at the event is the paddling sport of dragon boat racing. According to Bhatia, dragon boat race was first introduced in Asia, but has become popular in Europe and is now catching on in India. Talking about the majestic, long boat, he says, “Dragon boats are either 12 or 24-seater paddle-powered boats. The dozen or more members that make up the team include a drummer and a navigator. The participants paddle on every beat made by the drummer, who sits at the front of the boat.”

So, where can dragon boat enthusiasts start paddling in the city? “We train amateurs at H2O. Those looking for a crashcourse can enrol for the six days session that comes at Rs 4,400, others can go for 10 or more sessions in a month for a basic fee of Rs 1,000,” says Bhatia, adding, “Typically, the sea is windy with currents and constant movement. People who engage in this sport on open seas can easily compete at races on flatwater.”

Bhatia feels that there is a lack of options for water sports in Mumbai: “We have an abundant coastline and it’s free. There are a lot of beaches, where you can enjoy camel and horse rides, but no water sports. We need the government’s support to encourage people to engage in activities like canoeing and kayaking.”

Mumbai Ocean Championship will take place at H2O Water Sport Centre, Girgaum Chowpatty. From 12 noon to 2 pm.