Regatta – The event Sarawakians should not miss

January 24, 2014 by  
Filed under General

Regatta is a type of sport gaining popularity in Sarawak especially in Kuching and Baram, Northern Sarawak. Regatta is held annually in both places. This sport usually has 15 to 20 peddlers and 1 person is the leader of the team guiding them. According to Sarawak Tourism, it is held on 12 – 14 September 2014 this year for the event in Kuching and on August 2014 for the one in Baram.

A longboat with its paddlers in front of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kuching
A longboat with its paddlers in front of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kuching

Multicultural and peaceful as it is nowadays, there was a racial war in Sarawak among local tribes a long time ago. To solve this, Sir Charles Brooke proposed the boat race to change the way of their dispute against each other. Instead of headhunting, they battle each other in boat race to prove their strength and power.

Enough with history. Let’s focus on the main event.

In 2013, the race category was divided into 4 categories. They are Balok Boat, Bidar Boat, Kenyalang Boat and Tambang Boat. Mostly the races were in Bidar Boat category.

Dragon boat race was introduced last year and foreign teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asian countries participated in this race as well. The boats were shaped like a dragon, featuring the head and tail of a dragon.

Boats in Sarawak River in front of Astana
Boats in Sarawak River in front of Astana

Different races have their own unique attributes of their boats. Boats that are used for the race are usually the longboats. For example, the Malays have their Perahu Balok (Balok Boat) that is originally created from a whole timber tree trunk using simple instruments such as the “parang” and “beliong” to cut down the tree. The Melanau Community has a few types of boats, known as Bahong, Badong, Bakong, Buangan and Bidar. Orang Ulu’s boats are called “Haruk Adang usung Tingang” which means “flying boat with hornbill bow”. There are many other boats that belong to the other races. Since each of the boats have their own unique features, it would take an entire different article to be written about it.

The boats were given interesting names such as Burong Raja Wali Senang Hati (Happy Kingfisher), Tidak Disangka (Unexpected) – that sounded cooler in English, Seri Bulan Pelandok Dara (Moon Virgin Mousedeer) and Bendera Baru Note Sarawak (Flag New Note Sarawak). Most of the names sounded intriguing, and kudos to them for coming out with such names.

The roads leading to the area are usually closed to give way to the event. Hundreds of local vendors could be seen at the roadside along Waterfront. Furthermore, many other activities held during the event such as duck catching event, kayaking and Brooke Swim. For those who wonder what the duck catching event was, well, you should not be. The name says it all. Ducks were released into the river for people to catch. It must be fun to watch people chasing ducks in the river while the ducks only think about running for their lives. Brooke Swim is an event where 20 people swim from Sapi Jetty to Waterfront grand stand.

Duck catching event in Sarawak Regatta
Duck catching event in Sarawak Regatta

Traditions, old and ancient as it is, are priceless. People learn from their past. In this case, instead of battling in a war, they battle in a race. Now, we can live in harmony and understand each other albeit having different race and culture. Win or lose is an experience people had at least once in their lives, and by working together, it makes the victory sweeter or the losing less painful.

People viewing the race from Kuching Waterfront
People viewing the race from Kuching Waterfront

Well, we sure cannot wait for this exciting event. Hope to see you there this year!

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