Manchester Pandas ‘took it away’

31 May 2016

Tough competition and pouring rain didn’t stop us to have a fun day at Liverpool Watersports Centre.

On Saturday 21st May 2016, The University of Manchester Confucius Institute travelled to Liverpool to compete in the 4th annual North West Confucius Institute Dragon Boat Race. This year, it was hosted by Edge Hill University at the Liverpool Watersports Centre who, together with 4Dragons Ltd put on a well organised and fun filled day despite the typical English weather of pouring rain!

Our Manchester team consisted of CI staff, friends, family, CI students and colleagues from the University. We were all complete amateurs and some of us had attended one training session to prepare for the race. Our competitors were teams from Edge Hill, UCLAN, Liverpool and Lancaster University and over the course of the day we raced each against team at least once.

Each team was briefed and given some quick refresher training and then we were off against Liverpool and Lancaster for our first race. We then raced the other universities in 3 races and competed in the minor final against Liverpool again. UCLAN were the ultimate victors in a very tense final against Edge Hill and Lancaster.

Although we did finish in 5th place, our team spirit was high across the day and we had a great time. Taking inspiration from our team t-shirts, we really enjoyed channelling our ‘inner Panda’. Our focus was to improve on our own race times which we did – our longest race time was 2 minutes 36 seconds and we got this down to 2 minutes 19 seconds in our penultimate race. This was substantially faster than we had achieved in training and I was very proud of our team for this and all their hard work and enthusiasm throughout the day. A particular highlight was the whole rowing team shouting their numbers in Mandarin that accompanied the rhythmic beat of the drum for the final race. The day was topped off by a prize ceremony headed by local dignitaries and each university celebrated with some team photos and well deserved ice cream!

Two of our rowers have put into words their experience of the day:

“Being part of the ‘Manchester Pandas’ was brilliant fun! I had not done much rowing before – let alone rowed a dragon boat – so it was fab to have the training day and the tips from the pros at the start of the regatta. It was amazing how much we improved once we put the advice into practice. Xie xie to the organisers - you can count me in for next year!” - Sonja Bernhard

“I have never been on a Dragon Boat, or taken part in any kind of rowing race before, so I was a little apprehensive but as soon as we all got there and got in the boat it was fine. There was a real sense of ‘all in it together’ and I felt part of the team. As the day went on I think we started to work more as a team; shouting encouragement etc. as we were rowing. I think my rowing really improved over the day and I am so glad I attended the training session earlier in the month although I think we would have definitely benefitted from more training sessions. I really enjoyed the day and I hope I can sign up again next year.” - Vicky Turner

Next year, it is our turn to host the Dragon Boat Race so if you think you could row us to victory then watch this space!

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