The Lewes Dragon Boat Festival has quickly become one of the most exciting and competitive events to hit Lewes, Delaware. During the second weekend in September, Lewes’ Canalfront Park is transformed into a coliseum set for a sport unlike anything you have ever seen before.
Teams formulated from some of Southern Delaware’s most prominent businesses and organizations all gather at the park with one common goal in mind, winning the Coveted Dragon Boat Race Title. I’ve participated in the Lewes Dragon Boat Race for the past two years now, and I can safely proclaim that this event is arguably becoming one of the best days of the year for both the Lewes and Rehoboth communities.
Now, I’ve been a competitor my entire life, and I thrive on both the adrenaline and the intensity that comes along with every aspect of head to head competition. But to be honest, the competitive spirit associated with this event trumps any tournament, championship or nail biting game I have ever participated in. That morning, a sea of people flooded into the park, and you could feel the intensity in the air. Teams were having dry practices, practicing cadences and formulating game plans all the way until the first teams were marshaled off to the dock. Schell Brothers was lucky enough to sponsor two teams this year, the Schell Fire Breathers and the Echelon Dragon Hearts, both fitted with some of Schell’s most elite athletes. After finishing 2nd place last year, our teams had something to prove, and both teams were equally as hungry and driven to place and earn those important bragging rights.
Hundreds of people lined the banks of the canal waiting for the distant drums and cadences to become clear as the boats rapidly approached the docks. I can’t tell you what it felt like to turn the bend and hear the crowd go absolutely nuts as we would approach the finish line at record speeds. Both teams finished top ten; however, it was team Dragon Heart that pulled the photo finish to earn a place on the podium!
That sense of camaraderie and community that was exhibited by all the teams during the races is something that I will never forget and undoubtedly gives all new meaning to the word competition. It was not only a day filled with competition, but one that was consumed by laughter, smiles, and an all-around good time. But the most incredible aspect of this competition is the money that was raised to benefit one of Delaware’s local Charter Schools, Sussex Academy of the Arts and Sciences (of which I am a proud Alumna!). In less than 24 hours, $82,000 was raised to benefit Sussex Academy and its students—which is an absolutely incredible feat in itself! At the end of the day, it becomes apparent how supportive our community can be, and to me, just knowing this is better than any medal I have ever won.
Until next year, PADDLES UP!