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Wilmington, NC (WWAY)— On Saturday at the Sawmill Point Marina nearly 1,000 people gathered to watch or participate in the first ever Cape Fear Dragon Boat Festival.

“I think the visuals are one of the best things about dragon boat racing,” said event organizer Arnie Cullipher.”Dragon boats seat 20 people, have a drummer on the front that beats the cadence, you have a steer person on the back that is a professional who is provided. It looks kind of like a gondola but painted like a dragon.”

In order to win this inaugural event you have to have the best time in this 225 meter row. Many participants had similar strategies.

“The strategy is timing. If the boat is moving synchronized the boat moves much faster so timing is key to this whole paddling event,” said Lee Tran, a participant in the races.

“You think big strong guys, big strong rowers, but really its all about teamwork. All one team together, rowing together, all in sync,” said participant Bobby Schaffer.

Some teams had better luck than others…

“We ran into the bridge…two times,” said Linda Greco.

Regardless it seemed to be a good time for all involved.

“I think what’s been great about here is the location. Its in between the two great bridges, its a beautiful day, lots of music, lots of drumming, and everyone is having a great time,” said Jen Pullum.

The entry fee for each rower goes to two local non-profits, Step up for Soldiers, and the Sunburst Foundation.

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