INTRODUCTION: To the thumping of giant drums and the banging of gongs, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival opened in Hong Kong on Saturday (6 June), the auspicious Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon.
GV & LV Dragon boats racing as crowds watch from shore. (2 SHOTS)
SV Governor Sir Murray Maclehose arriving and being greeted by supporters.
SV Dragon boats moving out to start line. (2 SHOTS)
GV Crowd watching under umbrellas.
GV PAN Six dragon boats racing to finish ZOOM IN TO CU OF winning boat and oarsmen raising oars above heads in celebration.
LV & SV Crowd watch as winning boat comes to shore ahead of others.
SV & CU Crowd watch as Sir Murray Maclehose presents trophy to winning team. (3 SHOTS)
SPORT: BOAT RACING
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Background: INTRODUCTION: To the thumping of giant drums and the banging of gongs, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival opened in Hong Kong on Saturday (6 June), the auspicious Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon. For more than 2,000 years colourful boats up to 15 metres (50 feet) long and sporting a carved dragon head at the bow, and a dragon tail at the stern, have competed for racing honours.
SYNOPSIS: This year more than 70 teams representing virtually every local fisherman's society, some villages, factories, clans from China, and European sports organisations are taking part in the Festival.
Over the years much has changed. Competitors once crossed the finishing line to feast and pray. Now local industries award the prizes, and on Saturday Governor Sir Murray Maclehose presided over the events.
The origin of the boat races is both spiritual and political. Spiritually the boats were meant to pacify the fishermen's Queen of Heaven, Tin Hau. Politically the races were held to commemorate a legendary Chinese minister an poet who drowned.
Fifty teams competed in this race, held over the traditional 700 metre (yard) course. The crowds lining the shores to cheer on their favourite team beneath a roof of umbrellas were not disappointed by the bad weather; it is a traditional Chinese belief that the day's festivities bring rain.
There are 25 crowded oarsmen in each boat, a steersman, a team leader and, perhaps most important of all, a drummer to set the pace.
Race practice began in early May. But first the boats were dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea and the eyes on the dragon heads symbolically dotted to bring them to life.
The winners of this race will now represent Hong Kong in a big international competition on June 14. They will race against boats from Singapore, Japan, Hawaii, Malaysia and New Guinea.