Thousands of dragon boat athletes and supporters will compete in Adelaide when it hosts the 2016 Club Crew World Championships.
Adelaide has been announced as host city for the week-long event, following a successful bid by Events South Australia, Dragon Boat SA and the Australian Dragon Boat Federation (AusDBF).
Up to 5000 paddlers, coaches, managers and supporters are expected to attend the championships, which will be held on the AM Ramsay Regatta Course at West Lakes in 2016.
It is estimated the event will inject $4 million into the South Australian economy.
Crews representing clubs around the world compete in regional and national competitions to qualify for the Club Crew World Championships, which are held by the International Dragon Boat Federation every two years. The championships were held in Hong Kong last year and will be held in Italy in 2014.
Events South Australia general manager Hitaf Rasheed said hosting the event would continue to boost South Australia’s profile as a sporting and tourism destination overseas.
“Dragon boat races are always an exciting spectacle, so the chance to host an event of this scale is a great opportunity for the sport and for the state,” Ms Rasheed said.
“It will benefit the local economy, with thousands of athletes and supporters staying in South Australia, and is also a chance for South Australia to show what it has to offer the rest of the world.”
Originating in ancient China, dragon boats have a carved dragon’s head at the bow, a tail in the stern and painted dragon scales on the hull. In dragon boat racing each boat carries up to 20 paddlers, a helm and a drummer and competes against other boats over distances varying from 200m to 5000m.
The sport has spread to every continent since the first international races were held in Hong Kong in 1976. Today there are approximately 25,000 individual dragon boat paddlers and more than 200 crews across Australia.
Australian Dragon Boat Federation president Kel Watt said the announcement was another coup for the sport’s growing popularity in Australia, following the national team’s recent record medal haul at the World Championships in Hungary.
“We are setting ambitious recruitment and retention goals over the next three years to make sure our local clubs are in the strongest possible state to take on the world’s best,” Mr Watt said.
“The event could not have been secured without the support and work of the South Australian Government, and Events South Australia in particular. AusDBF is grateful for their faith in this project, and we are delighted with the work they have already started to ensure the event is a big success and showcases Adelaide to the world.
“We hope to see Adelaide small business benefitting from the many tourists and athletes the event will bring to South Australia in 2016 and hope our role as event hosts will help our sport grow and develop even further.”