ZooBiz - Komodo Dragon Race

Taronga supports Chinese New Year and wins the race.

Bleary-eyed at 6:30am on Sunday the 6th February, Taronga’s newly-formed Dragon Boat racing team, the Flying Komodos, began to focus their energy at the water’s edge of Darling Harbour for what was going to be a very big day of Dragon Boat racing.

As the official charity partner of the City of Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival, the Taronga Foundation was invited to take part in the annual race and support the Komodo Dragon.

The Flying Komodos, aka Team Taronga, featuring 10 male and 10 female staff plus two reserves, had been training hard for a least a week alongside the Sydney Fish Markets at Pyrmont thanks to the expert assistance of the FFB Dragon Boat Club. 

From all areas of Taronga, staff came together to learn paddling technique, timing and a start formula to beat any other competitors in the corporate and community race day at Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour.

Taronga’s first race, with very little warm up, highlighted that under race pressure the team’s timing was off in what we later learnt was called the ‘caterpillar’, where a gentle ripple of paddles moving up and down travelled from the front to the back of the boat. The key to dragon boat racing is a team which is perfectly in time in order to push the, pencil thin, 200kg + boat forward. The Flying Komodos realised that this needed to be streamlined for the remaining races so an alternative start was devised. Saying this, Taronga still placed third in lane six which is one of the slower lanes overall.

In Race Two, Taronga competed against some very strong teams which had months of training and a very competitive edge. The team pushed through the 250m race to place fourth overall despite the slight handicap of another boat steering into our lane.

The third and final race for the day was the Sponsors Challenge, known for its rivalry among sponsors of the Chinese New Year Festival and Dragon Boat event. Again, Team Taronga was placed in lane six on the western side of Cockle Bay. With their start combination streamlined and a team that was in time stroke for stroke, Taronga planed ahead of the other teams, parting the glassy surface on one of Sydney’s rare sunny summer days. Fatigue took a back seat and there was no sign of slowing as the Flying Komodos  passed the finish line in a clear first to the ecstatic excitement of all on board and the cheer squad on the quayside.