Ocean to City 20km Race at Ireland Cork Harbour Festival

As the sun casts a golden hue over the tranquil waters of Cork Harbour, our hearts raced with anticipation. We, Thames Dragon, a spirited dragon boat team hailing from the bustling heart of London, were about to embark on our very first journey at the Cork Harbour Festival’s Ocean to City event – An Rás Mór race.

We love races and we just can’t wait!! Two weeks after the intense London BDA race, 15 of our team members flew to Ireland for another fantastic race!

What’s with the Cork Race?

An Rás Mór is Ireland’s famous long-distance race attracting hundreds of participants from Ireland and beyond annually. Started in 2005, it has grown from its origin as a race for traditional fixed-seat boats into an all-inclusive rowing and paddling event, embracing everything from traditional wooden working boats, currachs, skiffs, gigs, and longboats, to contemporary ocean racing shells, kayaks, canoes and even stand-up paddle boards – and most importantly, DRAGON BOATS!

Check out the Highlight Reel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guX1nUF0aik

(Picture of us at 0:14! This was right before we started the race)

The Race Itself

Our hearts pulsated with a blend of excitement and determination as we were at the race start in Crosshaven preparing ourselves to embrace the 20k challenge that lay ahead. 20k distance was daunting itself, as many of us never paddled more than 8k, and some even joined the club only a few months ago. Despite this, for us, this event was more than just a race; it was an opportunity to unite our passion for the sport with the breath-taking backdrop of Cork’s stunning harbour. As our paddles sliced through the water, the rhythmic cadence of our movements mirrored the synchronisation of our collective resolve.

As we navigated the racecourse through Cobh (The Promenade) and Blackrock Harbour, we encountered both anticipated challenges and unexpected surprises. The unfamiliar waters of Cork Harbour presented their own set of hurdles, demanding our unwavering attention and adaptability. This included switching seats while the rest of the crew was still paddling plus we had the oldest wooden boat and not our usual drummer class at the front. Yet, it was in these moments that our unity and determination shone the brightest, propelling us forward with every surge of the tide.

Though not seasoned professionals, the bond forged through countless training sessions prior to the race and shared determination was our strength. With every stroke, we harnessed the spirit of camaraderie that had been nurtured during countless training sessions at the London Regatta Centre (LRC). As our paddles cut through the water, we felt the synergy that only a united team can experience. The rhythmic beat of our drum fuelled our energy, reminding us that we weren’t just Thames Dragons; we were representatives of our city, our team, and our unwavering passion.

Triumph coming in FIRST!!

We made the 20k race in the end.. and within 2 hours!! Despite our tiredness, it was such an amazing achievement that we all were very proud of – Hurrah!!

Crossing the finish line back at the Cork city was a moment of triumph that went beyond mere victory. It was a testament to our team’s dedication, the culmination of months of preparation, and the embodiment of our shared spirit. The cheers of the spectators along the race course, resonating with the satisfaction of our accomplishment, affirmed the significance of our journey.

The Ocean to City event encompassed more than a competition; it encapsulated the ethos of global unity and maritime heritage. As we connected with fellow participants from across the world, we were reminded that the dragon boat, a symbol of time-honored traditions, resonated with us on a profound level, bridging cultures and embodying the multicultural essence of UK.

Our time with Thames Dragons at the Cork Harbour Festival’s Ocean to City event will forever be etched in our memories. It was a voyage of self-discovery, collaboration, and the exhilaration of striving towards a common goal. Our journey was a testament to the power of perseverance, unity, and the enriching experiences that emerge when diverse cultures converge in the pursuit of a shared passion.

Special thanks to Elle

Huge thanks to Elle for orchestrating an unforgettable event. Gratitude to the Cork dragon boat team for their warm hospitality at the Cork Harbour Festival. Our journey was enriched by your efforts, making memories that will last a lifetime. Until our paddles meet again – sincere appreciation!