The DBS Marina Regatta is touted as ‘Singapore biggest water sports festival’. Launched in 2012, the Marina Bay takes on a new life every May or June as many local and international dragon boat teams, compete for glory and price money. This is part of the event title sponsor – Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) ongoing efforts to engage the community and showcase the vibrancy and dynamism of Singapore’s financial downtown district. In 2016, more than 230 international and local teams slugged it out for cash prizes totaling some SGD 230,000, the highest in a dragon boat race.
Held this year from the 1-4 June, the 6th edition 4 days event is not just for those into dragon boating. From the pop-up urban beach and pool, to the food village, to various kids activities, there is something for everyone of all ages. And for me as an avid shutterbug, the event was fertile ground for sports photography.
The Regatta thrills and spills
Since its inception, the regatta drew healthy crowds in the thousands comprising rowers, supporters, tourists and local people. It certainly gave me the great opportunity to capture some of the action of dragonboat race without having to go overseas for such experience.
A team coming in fast to the finishing line. Under the season high heat and humidity, the rowers have to work doubly hard to be in prime condition.
It became apparent which are the stronger teams just by observing the prowess, speed and synchronicity of individual teams.
This is one sports that calls for absolute team work and camaraderie. Anything less will compromise the team performance.
The drum beats produced by the drummer may be considered the “heartbeat” of the dragon boat. The drummer paces the paddlers throughout the race using rhythmic drum beats to indicate the frequency and synchronicity of all the paddlers’ strokes. The drummer communicates commands to the crew through a combination of hand signals and verbal cues to urge the crew towards peak performance.
All ladies-team churning the waves at the bay.
The burst of power of the 10 rowers to gain acceleration is what make the capturing this sport all the more exciting, as the effort are written over the rowers’ faces.
Dragon boat races were traditionally held as part of the annual Duanwu Festival or Duen Ng observance in China. Not comprehending the significance of Duanwu, 19th-century European observers of the racing ritual likened the spectacle as a “dragon boat festival”. This is the term that has become known in the West.
Rowers walking around the bay venue. It takes great mental patience as each team waits for their turn at the competition.
The event always draws out the big lenses by camera interest groups. In this case, it’s from the Canon Professional Services (CPS) camp.
The punishing heat during the regatta (about 36’C but feels like 40’C) necessitates appropriate attire for the occasion. A sun hat helps plenty.
Rowers exiting the bay after a race session. It’s tough work in that hot and humid weather.
Boats all lined up at the bay pontoon during competition rest interval. Perfect for a nice angle.
Above all, it’s the camaraderie among the team members that is important.
I like to wrap up this article with some tips for photographers looking to capture the action at future regatta.
a) Shutter speed – panning : 1/15s – 1/30s . For motion stopping : 1/1000 and above
b) Lens focal at this venue : 200 -600mm range for close up of the action
c) Type of camera : full-frame, APS-C , etc. With manual control.
d) Tripod : recommended for smoother panning motion. For long lenses, a gimbal head would be useful.
e) Bring sun block, UV block arm sleeves, sunglasses, sun hat, drinking water.
f) Best time for shoot : 1.30pm-4pm (from 430pm onwards, the bay will be in shadow area due to skyscrapers shielding the setting sun.
h) MRT station to alight : Raffles Place MRT
i) Admission : Free (except for certain activities, food and beverages)
Till the next DBS Marina Regatta, do stay tuned to the event calendar. Many thanks for coming along the read trip.
Footnote : The pictures used in the article are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and all rights reserved.