‘Dragon masters’

THE five-month preparation of Gruppo Habagat Dragonboat Team paid off and they soared high in the 2016 Puerto Princesa International Club Crew Championships in Puerto Princesa, Palawan over the weekend.

The 33-man crew of Gruppo Habagat Dragonboat Team won two gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals in the two-day dragon boat fest, which had crews from Berlin, Los Angeles, Chinese Taipei, Japan Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Batangas, Palawan, Tacloban, Iligan and Cebu.

Gruppo Habagat dominated the 500-meter Masters Mixed short boat category, completing the course in 2 minutes, 18.99 seconds. It beat the Salt Water Dragons, who came second in 2:23.102, and Team Pyros, which got third place in 2:24.007.

Gruppo Habagat continued its dominance in the masters’ division as it bagged another gold medal in the 200m Masters Mixed short boat category in 58.219, outlasting Team Pyros and Salt Water Dragons, which completed the course in 59.296 and 59.474, respectively.

Gruppo Habagat snagged a silver medal in the Standard Boat Mixed 500m category in 2:03.094. The Philippine Titans won the gold medal in 2:02.329, while Team Pyros nabbed the bronze medal in 2:04.294.

In the All-Women’s 500m small boat category, Gruppo Habagat won a bronze medal with a time of 2:28. The Philippine Titans reigned in 2:23 and Team Pyros got the silver medal in 2:26.

Gruppo Habagat placed third in the 200m short boat mixed category, with the PH Titans taking the gold medal and Speed Devils of Manila taking the silver medal.

“It’s very fulfilling for us. We have prepared so hard for this event and trained five times a week. The team’s hard work really paid off,” said Gruppo Habagat head coach Noonie Lopez.

Gruppo Habagat was part of a handful of Visayan teams that joined the tournament as most of the participants were from Manila and abroad.

“We are proud to bring the name of Cebu and Visayas. There were only four teams from Visayas and we’re glad our team made it to the podium,” he added.

Lopez pointed out that the team’s strength is the masters division, which is for paddlers 40 years old and above. Gruppo Habagat won two gold medals in the masters’ division.

After a successful stint in Palawan, the Gruppo Habagat squad will now prepare for a local dragon boat race in Dumaguete two weeks from now. The next big race for the team is the international dragon boat competition in Boracay on April 22 next year.

The club crew race in Palawan was spearheaded by the Philippine Canoa Kayak Federation (PCKF), which also staged the 2016 Asian Dragon Boat Championships last Nov. 11 to 12.
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