WASHINGTON – On Sunday, boats with dragon heads at the bow and large, furiously paddling crews took over the Potomac River once again, as the Dragon Boat Festival came to the District for the 12th year.
More than 80 races were held over the weekend, involving 20-member teams from all over the country and around the world.
It’s a matter of hard work and teamwork.
Grace Genecia, a member of a Florida team called the Tarpons, sets the pace for her crew. “My job,” she says, “is to really scream and get everybody on time and in sync to kick some butt out there.”
The D.C.-based Out of Sight Dragons are a team of visually impaired paddlers, and for them the race is about more than winning. Team member Sam Joehl says there aren’t many athletic opportunities in the area for the visually impaired, and Ed Bordley calls paddling “an opportunity to use your body for sports,” adding that “the hardest part is practice.”
Still, his teammate Tajuan Farmer says “it’s about coming together, but as you can see it’s also about the competitive race.”
The Out of Sight Dragons joined the league about four years ago. They haven’t won any races – yet – but on Sunday their sighted competitors expressed their admiration.