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Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival Participants Begin Training

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TWC News: Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival Participants Begin Training
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The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is being held later this summer, and teams spend months preparing. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

Ask any racer—a drumbeat and it's rhythm are the key to a successful dragon boat run.

"You have to be in sync with your teammates and there's no use no matter how strong you are to paddling on your own," says dragon boat team member Nick Lee.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park isn't until August, but the preparations are well underway.

Teams practice for months, and some year round. More than 180 teams will compete.

"It's very competitive. I mean, some teams practice from the beginning of March all the way to the end of the season in October," says Daniel Chang of Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival NY.

For many squads, the sessions like this Sunday practice are about building camaraderie.

"This is a team sport, so we really need to be in sync here," says team member Betty Lam.

Dragon Boat racing originated in Hong Kong, but it's turned into a competitive sport in the United States—complete with a national team.

Gigi Copeland is on that team. She picked up the sport eight years ago.

She's heading to Poland for the World Championships later this summer. She says professional or amateur—it's a workout.

"These boats weigh about 1200 pounds and you paddle with about 12 people so you're talking sitting in a tank, trying to paddle a tank with a little bitty oar like that," Copeland says.

Races are 250 or 500 meters and generally last 90 seconds. Any of these racers will tell you. though, all the hard work is worth it.

"When you're at that starting point and you know that horn blows off and that's when you feel that tension. And then once you actually win, it's even better. So winning is sweet," says team member Aldo Solares.

The races themselves are August 9 and 10. There's a cultural festival too.

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