First Israeli Dragon Boat Race Paddles into History on the Sea of Galilee
More than 900 Paddle Their Way Through The Kinneret
Dragon Boat Israel (DBI) held its first ever race and festival on Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) on Friday, May 18.
Thirty-nine teams, totaling over 900 paddlers, took part. Twenty of the teams were Israeli and 19 were international -- from Canada, the US, Holland, Italy, Australia and Taiwan. The winning team was Tailgaters from Canada, followed by Ohalo College (Israel), L’Chaim on the Mayim (Canada), Degania Bet (Israel) and Kinneret College (Israel).
Many of the overseas participants were visiting Israel for the first time. In addition to taking part in the race, they enjoyed a ten-day guided tour of the country.
No less than eight teams were comprised of breast cancer survivors (six from North America and two from Israel). They held a moving ceremony at the end of the breast cancer survivors’ race, in memory of those who had lost their battle to the disease, and threw pink flowers into the water.
The race was the focal point of a two-day “happening” on the shores of the lake. Other attractions included musical performances, sporting activities, Tai Chi workshops, drumming workshops and craft and food stands.
The race - a joint Canada-Israel initiative, was conceived to introduce the sport of dragon boat racing to Israel and to bring people to northern Israel for an exciting, team-focused event that builds community. Participants raised over NIS 200,000 for educational charities, including Net@, which provides computer training for teens, and Youth Futures, an intervention program for teens-at-risk.
Debbie Halton-Weiss, founder of Dragon Boat Israel and chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, was moved to see that more than 1,000 spectators had come from all over Israel to watch the race. “I am delighted by the warm sporting spirit which has embraced the race. I am pleased that people abroad will be watching and will see Israelis enjoying sporting events while contributing to the community. Next year’s dragon boat race will take place on May 9 and 10, and I hope that it will attract even more paddlers.”