World Dragonboat Championships: Opening Day

The Weather Clears for IDBF World Crew Championships

One week ago participants and spectators would have found the World Dragonboat Crew Championships catching the tumltuous end of a horrendous heat wave. But Odin and the Weather Gods agreed to smile on the Championships bestowing sunshine emanating through the lowering clouds with a cooler but windy opening evening for the Championships. And the weather should hold throughout the weekend.

The Championships racing started with the Grand Dragon crews, that is teams that are 50 years of age or over for the Women , Open (any mix of 20 men and women paddlers in the boats) and Mixed (at least 8 men or at least 8 men in the boat’s 20 paddlers – admittedly, you have to think twice about this class) classes.
By the time the Grand Dragon Women started, even the wind had becalmed and spectators were treated to some amazing paddling as the Grand Dragons posted times around the cusp of 50 seconds that many a team taking part in the Toronto Island Dragonboat Festival or the upcoming Great White North Dragonboat meet would gladly latch onto.After the Grand Dragon Races the 0ver 100 Dragonboat teams from 12 countries departed for the opening ceremonies in downtown Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square. Right from the get go, both athletes and about 800 spectators were treated to some fine performances by the Toronto Dragoneer and the Toronto Ballet Company .
Toronto Ballet Company

The over 2000 athletes from 120 Dragonboat crews had the best view of the performances from the lower roof of the New City Hall overlooking Nathan Phillips Square. After this performance aperitif, the Parade of Athletes commenced as the teams were led down from the roof on the spiral staircase by the Toronto Pipe and Drum band.
Parade of Dragonboat teams

Each DragonBoat team was introduced as they marched into Nathan Phillips Square. Then, unfortunately, the politicians at all levels of government in and around the GTA-Greater Toronto Area took over. They had some serious self-congratulations to do. They had managed somehow to agree how to spend 23 million dollars on the new DragonBoat Basin at Marilyn Bell Park – so they needed to toot their horns. This intelude gave our photographer the opportunity to examine the visual and architectural delights surroundng Nathan Phillips Square.
The Clock Tower at Old City Hall

Ooops … City Alderman Joe Pantalone still droning on and on …. uhhhh speaking. So our intrepid photographer tries another novel view of New City Hall.

Novel View of New City Hall Where Joe Pantalone Works

Enfin.. with the political speeches at an end, the fine entertainments of the Opening Ceremony re-commenced and our particular favorite was a depiction of the Dragonboats done the Chinese Theatrical Company. But there were entertaining performances by Indian native singers, Tophat Dance Team, and the Toronto Ballet with another entertaining dance number
Chinese Theatrical Company

My only concern was that as the old City Hall Clock struck 11:00PM it was getting a little late for our photographer and perhaps not a few crews that had to be down at the waterfront by 8 or 9:00 AM Friday morning. Nonetheless, sans politicos speeches, this was a very entertaining Opening Ceremony.