Royal couple make a splash in dragon boats

Jim Day
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Prince William gives his wife Kate a big hug after the dragon boat race on Dalvay lake Monday afternoon. The prince's team beat his wife's in the race.

The royal battle of the paddle went to William.

The greatly hyped dragon boat race Monday pitting the prince against his new bride was over in a mere minute or so.

Light rain and less than light wind seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of spectators that watched the two boats cover the 200-metre course on Dalvay Lake.

Kate, though, remained in good spirits after getting out of her boat and playfully pushing Will as if to send him into the water.

Local hockey hero Adam McQuaid of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins has no regrets about being on the losing side.

He was positioned in the middle of the boat so he was not able to witness Kate's admirable paddling effort in the back.

However, he was fortunate enough to meet Kate briefly. He found her to be very personable, though quiet and reserved.

He says hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup and paddling with the Duchess of Cambridge all within the past month is hard to wrap his head around.

"Even though I lost the race,'' he adds, "some people might argue I won because I got to be in her boat.''

Paddling in William's boat, Premier Robert Ghiz took on his wife Dr. Kate Ellis who was competing with her namesake.

And, as Stephen Gallant, co-owner of Dragon Boat East can attest, so much about this race was far from the norm of dragon boat racing that emerged in modern times as an international sport in Hong Kong in 1976 and is part of a larger Chinese cultural tradition that dates back 2,400 years..

The Nova Scotia-based company typically makes a splash at festivals, fundraisers, and corporate events. This royal race clearly was never going to be run-of-the-mill.

First, Dragon Boat East had to sign non-disclosure forms when approached about six weeks ago to do the event in front of the 2,400 guests invited to the grounds of Dalvay By The Sea.

Then there was the crush of dragon boat enthusiasts numbering about 200 volunteering to paddle in either boat once word of the royal race was officially announced.

There were unique logistics for royal race.Gallant's paddlers, for instance, needed to know what to wear so they could mingle with other garden party guests before changing into their dragon boat gear.

Driving home the magnitude of the unique circumstances for Gallant also came when police checked his credentials at four different points before he finally got on the grounds. And a bomb squad checking out the two dragon boats also was a first for the company.

"It's the world stage,'' said Gallant.

"It's not a small event.''

Geographic location: Cambridge, Hong Kong

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  • jim
    July 05, 2011 - 07:11

    So who were the paddlers on the boats, I only ever heard about couple athletics, like Adam, and Jarrod