Dragonboat races success despite storm

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By Kat Walsh

Instead of kicking off with a Friday night concert featuring the Sweetgrass Angels, DragonBoat Race Day weekend hosted an uninvited guest: Tropical Storm Hermine.

Not only did the storm cancel the free festivities at Waterfront Park, it also prevented volunteers from setting up on Friday, Sept. 2, or early Saturday, Sept. 3.

“We were supposed to have all the infrastructure in place on Friday – tents, signs, race course, docks everything – but Tropical Storm Hermine had other plans,” said Greg Rawls, marketing director for DragonBoat. “I am amazed that we got all of it all done and started only two hours late on Saturday.”

Hermine wasn’t the only challenge for DragonBoat Beaufort; this was the first festival without the sponsorship and exposure of the Water Festival. As a result, Rawls says that expenses were higher and the workload was greater, but despite this, the organization is pleased that the weekend was very successful in both fundraising and fun.

Cheered on by a positive turnout of spectators and cheerleaders, 22 teams – made up of cancer survivors, supporters and community members – took part in the race.

All money raised will go to help local cancer patients, whether that be through the opportunity to participate in dragonboat racing or through one-on-one grants to help patients with needs they are unable to afford.

“We don’t know the exact number yet, but no matter how much money we raised, we are very grateful for the support for our cancer survivor paddling program and outreach program,” said Rawls.

Top photo: The annual DragonBoat Race Day was fun in spite of the storm that hit the area the day before the races. Photo by Greg Rawls.