Packed grandstands today at the Idroscalo in Milan. The huge Rowing/Canoeing facility of the Lombard capital is full with a thousand people on the stands and at least as many on the banks of the basin for the beginning of the Dragon Boat World Championship. Fourteen nations have already started measuring themselves against each other in the eliminatory races: Canada, Philippines, Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Hungary and the United States of America.
During the elimination races on the first day it was the Hungarian team to have the “lion’s role” - Hungary is maybe the only nation where the sport of canoeing, in all of its specialities, is considered a national sport, just as soccer is in Italy – they have boats in all categories and were able to reach the finals with nine crews. Inevitably the host nation, the Italian team were honourably able to get to the final in the ten-seated dragon boat category for Masters Men. Italy also did well n the semi-finals of the 20 person seated Dragon Boat, whereas they will have to fight in the repechages for the other races.
Good results for the Canadian teams who managed seven boats in the finals, and for the Russians, with five dragon boat finals to look forward to. Other countries in the finals include Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Czech Republic and Poland.
A Weekend of Dragon Boat Racing Ahead
Continuing Friday morning will be the elimination races for the 500m and in the afternoon the first finals. Saturday includes finals for the 1000m and first heats for the 200m. Sunday is sprint-day with the semi-finals and finals of the 200m distance.
The scheduled races are numerous and come fast and furiously. Boats challenge each other on three distances and in two kinds of boats - 10 or 20 persons. Crews are made up of male teams, female teams or mixed teams. Mixed teams must have a minimum of four women for a 10 seater boat and eight for the twenty seated boats. At the World Championships there are three age groups also: junior, senior, and masters (over 40).
The Opening Ceremony – started after eight pm with a summer thunderstorm which did not facilitate the job of the fireworks team and their pyrotechnic games. Only after the rain stopped the marvellous show could start. Following the greetings of the President of the Italian Canoe Federation, Luciano Buonfiglio the President of the Province of Milan, Guido Podestà, presented the event accompanied by the Sport Councillor Cristina Stancari.
In addition to the World Championships, the crews of the Italian University will compete in the event making this part of the Dragon Boat Festival. It will be the eleventh time the Universities have competed.
Also, on the schedule is the competition between the teams of Forza Rosa and the legendary Breast Cancer Survivors. These courageous women who have undergone breast cancer surgery compete in Dragon Boat and have become iconic in the paddling world.
The competition this weekend will be broadcast by RAI (ITA) and SKY (private international TV).
Find information, schedule and results on the official website of the 2012 ICF DRAGON BOAT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: www.idroscaloclub.org/dragon/eng/live.html