It will be a colourful week at Lake Kawana when more than 2500 paddlers competing in a 2000-year-old sport visit the Sunshine Coast for the Australian National Dragon Boat Championships from March 3-8.
The championships are Australia's premier dragon boating event and bring together a cross section of paddlers, coaches, officials and volunteers from 70 clubs across the country.
As well as the spectacle of competition, dragon boat racing has a significantly rich history which will be on display with the staging of the traditional Awakening the Dragon and Laying the Dragon to Rest ceremonies open to the public.
Sunshine Coast Council Tourism Sport and Major Events Portfolio Councillor Jason OPray welcomed the Aus Champs back to the Sunshine Coast.
"Today we are delighted to announce the return of the Australian Dragon Boat Championships, and its 2500 competitors plus an estimated additional 5000 supporters, officials and volunteers, to the Sunshine Coast," Cr OPray said.
"It's going to be an amazing sight to see and hear with each boat carrying 20 paddlers, a steerer and a drummer.
"We will have paddlers visiting from all over Australia and I'm sure they will enjoy racing at Lake Kawana and appreciate the facilities of our premier sporting venue, the Sunshine Coast Stadium.
"This event will be one of the largest events hosted here on the Sunshine Coast this year and is expected to generate significant economic returns.
"Events like these deliver fantastic economic benefits for our local businesses and community and provide great exposure that generate future tourism opportunities for our region.
"We know that many of the paddlers and their supporters are staying on past the event to enjoy everything that the Sunshine Coast has to offer."
Event organiser and marketing director for Dragon Boat Queensland Ross Boyce said that the paddling contingent were excited to be coming back to the Sunshine Coast.
"The opportunity to compete at the highest level is important to the development of the sport in Australia and what better place to host the event than on the Sunshine Coast," Mr Boyce said.
"AusChamps are always tough and uncompromising and the 2018 Australian Championships promises first-class racing.
"Similarly, State pride is on the line as Australia's top crews fight it out on State versus State day to win the title of the best state in Australia.
"We are also proud to be supporting a range of local Sunshine Coast and Queensland businesses through the hosting of the event here.
"Staging a large national event like this requires the services of a wide range of local businesses including cold room suppliers, document services providers, marquee companies, equipment and fencing hire companies just to name a few."
Andrew Murray, from ERMS Emergency and Risk Management Services, said national events like Aus Champs provided a boon for his business.
"With events like the National Dragon Boat Championships coming to the Sunshine Coast, it demonstrates the importance of how many opportunities there are not only to host an event, but for local businesses to also get behind and provide services," Mr Murray said.
"Let's see more local businesses supporting these amazing events across the beautiful Sunshine Coast for more years to come."
The event starts on Saturday, March 3 with races staged through until March 8.
For more information on the event visit www. http://www.sunshinecoaststadium.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/
About the event
· Day 1 boasts the State v State battle of the best dragon boat teams each State and Territory has to offer.
· Days 2 and 3 is when the clubs' Premier and Junior teams and Breast Cancer Survivors (BCS) categories race for gold.
· Days 3 and 4 will see Australian club senior crew categories A B & C ; Australia's most experienced paddlers – show us how it's done.
· The event was last staged on the Sunshine Coast in 2009 and 2014.
About Dragon Boat racing
· For those unfamiliar with the sport, dragon boating simply put, is a boat of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steer person paddling to cross the finish faster than their competition. It's a team sport in its purest form that encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization and endurance.
· Dragon Boat racing has been around for over 2000 years and it estimated that over 50 million people worldwide regularly hop in a dragon boat making it one of the fastest growing international team water sports.
· It is a sport for all ages and crosses all cultural divides bringing people together around the globe.